The New York Giants hit the field for their first preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. It was a first look at a lot of things for the Giants — a new coaching staff and new schemes on offense and defense — and it was the first time the rookies were on the field against another team.
Playing time varied for the rookies, but they all got a chance to showcase what they might bring to the roster in 2018. Let’s take a look and see how each of the first-year players fared in their first preseason action of the season.
Saquon Barkley, RB
6 offensive snaps (8 percent)
Barkley, of course, was as expected. He played just six offensive snaps and received carries on four of them. The standout play was his 39-yard run on his first touch of the game. Barkley showed a little bit of everything on that play. He bounced outside a tackler in the interior, then cut back inside to avoid a defensive back crashing down, and found a hole for a big gain.
His three other runs went for a total of four yards, which gets overshadowed by the long run. There was some talk about how Barkley bounced some runs outside when he shouldn’t have, but that could be more on the offensive line, which we’ll get to in a bit.
Overall, that flash is what you’d like to see from Barkley and something the Giants will hope continues as his playing time increases throughout the preseason.
Will Hernandez, OG
16 offensive snaps (16 percent)
Hernandez took all the reps with the first-team offensive line at left guard. This isn’t a surprise, he’s been in that position all offseason. What was a little more surprising was some up-and-down play from the second-round pick.
On the Giants’ first drive, they ran an outside zone to the right. While the whole play wasn’t blocked particularly well, Hernandez never got a full grasp on defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (65), who was able to at least throw himself in front of Barkley’s path to stop the running back’s feet and cause a loss of 2 yards.
On a play Myles Garrett jumped offsides, there was a miscommunication between Hernandez and Jonathan Stewart picking up a blitz from Mychal Kendricks. Hernandez’s pickup of Kendricks wasn’t smooth and the linebacker spun away for what would have been a sack without a penalty.
Later on the second drive for the Giants, Barkley got a handoff that was intended to go up the middle. Hernandez shot out of his stance, but too quickly committed to a double team of Myles Garrett (95) with Nate Solder. That allowed Mychal Kendricks (54) to plug the gap Barkley was supposed to hit, which caused him to bounce the run outside.
These aren’t blown blocks or poor play, per se, but it’s clear there might still be some communication issues that need to be worked out as this new offensive line gets used to working with each other. That should come with time.
Lorenzo Carter, EDGE
38 defensive snaps (55 percent)
Carter was one of the Giants who got the most playing time during the game. Only Chris Lewis-Harris (74 percent) and Leonard Johnson (65 percent) played more.
Most of Carter’s time was playing as an EDGE rusher, either standing up or with his hand on the ground. He showed there’s still some refinement needed in his game — something expected when he was drafted. Many of Carter’s reps came against former first-round pick Greg Robinson, who is now apparently a Brown. Carter struggled to win the one-on-one matchup, which isn’t necessarily a knock on Carter.
One way Carter tried to compensate was to use his speed. That created some problems with getting too deep behind the quarterback. On a fourth-and-2, Carter lined up against right tackle Shon Coleman (72) and tried a speed rush around the edge. It wasn’t quick enough and it opened a lane for Baker Mayfield to scramble for the first down.
Overall Carter was credited with three tackles — one solo and two assisted. He’s someone who is going to need some time to adjust from the position he played at Georgia, so it’s good he played over half the team’s defensive snaps.
B.J. Hill, DL
9 defensive snaps (13 percent)
Hill was treated like a bonafide top-end starter. He started on the first-team defensive line and played just nine snaps. Only Dalvin Tomlinson (five) and Kristjan Sokoli (three) played fewer snaps among Giants defenders who saw the field.
On those nine snaps, Hill made one tackle — an assist with B.J. Goodson on a run for no gain by Nick Chubb. Hill played the end on three-man lines and kicked inside a few times when the Giants had four down linemen.
Kyle Lauletta, QB
18 offensive snaps (24 percent)
Perhaps the best thing about Kyle Lauletta’s performance was it wasn’t Davis Webb’s. Lauletta played the end of the third quarter and into the fourth. He went 6-of-9 for 48 yards — of the top three quarterbacks, Lauletta led the way with 5.3 yards per attempt. That’s not great, but again, this is a work in progress all around. There also wasn’t a lot of scheming done on the offensive side of the ball to open up plays for the quarterbacks like there would be during the regular season.
Lauletta’s first pass was under pressure off play-action and he found tight end Scott Simonson on a dump off that allowed the tight end to gain some yards after the catch. His next pass was a nice touch pass over the shoulder of Amba Etta-Tawo that probably would have been completed, but cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon played coverage a little too tight and was called for pass interference.
His best pass — and almost half his passing yards — came off a play-action pass in rhythm to an open Roger Lewis down the sideline for 23 yards.
Overall, Lauletta looked way more comfortable with the tempo of the offense than Webb, who never appeared under control.
Grant Haley, CB
32 defensive snaps (46 percent)
In a competition for the nickel cornerback role, undrafted free agent Grant Haley made a nice impression against Cleveland. He played almost half the game with most snaps coming as an outside cornerback. He worked a lot against Antonio Callaway, who had some flashes before Haley came in the game.
While Haley played against Cleveland’s second-team offense, his coverage held up enough that he made Baker Mayfield move to reads on the other side of the field multiple times. That’s a good impact to have on an offense.
He made a nice tackle for loss in the run game, where he quickly read run and broke on running back Nick Chubb for a one-yard loss.
Haley also has a pass defensed early in the fourth quarter against Cleveland’s third-team offense and the quarterback-wide receiver duo of Brogan Roback and Damion Ratley.
Robert Martin, RB
22 offensive snaps (29 percent)
It’s unknown if the Giants will keep four running backs on the roster, but Robert Martin made a case. He got some run with Lauletta and the third-team offense. He ran five times for 39 yards and added two receptions for 11 yards on five targets.
His highlight play was a 19-yard run in the fourth quarter on a well-blocked play against an eight-man box.
Sean Chandler, S
35 defensive snaps (51 percent)
The undrafted rookie safety out of Temple got a lot of playing time in the second half, though he only had two tackles on the night. But those two plays were good ones.
He had a nice tackle on punt coverage in the fourth quarter, which stopped a return after just five yards. He also had a run tackle for no gain in the fourth while basically lining up as a linebacker in a box safety look. He also had a couple missed tackles and bad angles in the open field.