The New York Giants soundly beat the Detroit Lions, of Friday night, never trailing after their second possession and winning, 30-17. But, as the coaches will be the first to tell you, the win-loss totals are not the point of preseason. Most of the time they aren’t even interested in the final score.
Instead, preseason games are for marking the progress of the team as a whole, for coaches to try things out, and for position battles to be played out on the field. With two preseason games in the books, we can begin to draw trend lines and start to get a glimpse into the coaching staff’s thought process.
And with that in mind, let’s check in on some of the Giants’ biggest position battles.
This wasn’t included in the battles last week, but after Davis Webb’s Week 1 performance, it is a position we have to keep an eye on.
Winner: Davis Webb might be THE big winner for the Giants on the night. After a bad, unsettled performance against the Cleveland Browns, Webb got the start and looked composed, decisive, and accurate. He responded to the faith from the Giants’ coaching staff by slinging the ball all over the field with touch and accuracy, finishing with stat line of 14-for-20 (70 percent) for 140 yards and a touchdown. Webb had a few highlight plays, but this one stands out:
Center: Jon Halapio vs. Brett Jones
Last week I thought Brett Jones came away with the better performance — and the win. The Giants, apparently, disagreed and Halapio remained the starting center through the next week of practice.
It is difficult to say whether either center established an advantage over the other. It did stand out that Halapio failed to snap the ball despite Webb calling for it, resulting in a delay of game penalty.
The Giants have a horde of young receivers and journeyman vets looking to carve out roles on the depth chart. These preseason games are important for all of them as they seek a place on both offense and special teams.
- Cody Latimer - Latimer finally stepped up and showed why the Giants made him a free agent priority. He displayed great body control and subtle route running to create separation and make plays on the ball.
- Russell Shepard - Shepard showed solid concentration through coverage to make deep reception. Shepard didn’t have much separation, but in a crowded wide receiver room, being able to make a play despite being covered could be a difference maker.
- Kalif Raymond showed some upside as a returner, as well as some sharp route running and nice hands on a high pass over the middle.
- Hunter Sharp once again got the first team chances as the starting kick and punt returner, and struggled with ball security. He also failed to make an impression as a receiver, with one catch on two targets for no yards.
Who will man the slot corner position? Who will back up Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple? Are those players even on the roster right now? The Giants need answers to those questions by the final preseason game, and they got another set of data points against the Lions.
- B.W. Webb - Webb has showed a reassuring combination of veteran savvy and solid fundamentals. Last week he used the sideline as an extra defender to prevent a touchdown pass, this week he was solid as a sub-package defender with the first team and with the second team.
- Grant Haley - The UDFA rookie struggled at the end of the game. He missed some tackles and played sloppier as the game wore on. He made a nice play to prevent a touchdown at the end of the fourth quarter. He showed that he is a rookie, but a rookie with some upside.
- Mike Jones - The Lions continually picked on Jones, a rookie who just signed a few days ago, resulting in several receptions and two pass interference penalties.
Who is going to be the other starting safety beside Landon Collins? Curtis Riley has been that throughout the off-season, but the the Giants have featured a lively rotation of potential starters through camp.
- Michael Thomas - Thomas was, once again, all over the field. Not only did he make a nice play in coverage to prevent a touchdown, but he was active coming downhill in run defense.
- Darian Thompson - Thompson is here not because of anything he did in the game, but simply by viture of being injured. He is in a fight for his job and you can make the team from the trainer’s table.