New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur wouldn’t say whether the third preseason game — the annual meeting between the Giants and the New York Jets — was a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the regular season.
But even if he wouldn’t say it, he sure is acting like he is getting his team ready to play in a regular season game.
Shurmur did admit early in the week that the team would be game planning for the Jets. More than any week before a preseason game he has been running “card” practices against scout teams to simulate what they have seen on tape from the Jets. So while Shurmur may not say that this game, and week, has been a dress rehearsal for the regular season, it definitely has that look. Because of that, we have to think that this is the week for players in position battles to step up and make an impression. There is no better time for a player on the fringe of the 53-man roster to prove that he belongs than to show that he can be a contributor in a regular season situation.
Can Davis Webb extend his lead over Kyle Lauletta?
This wasn’t even considered a real competition before Webb’s bad performance against the Cleveland Browns, but after that it had to be on everyone’s radar.
From Lauletta’s perspective, there really isn’t any pressure. The team isn’t going to cut a fourth round quarterback who could be in the running as Eli Manning’s heir.
Webb answered critics with a fantastic performance in his start against the Detroit Lions, but he will need to show that he can be consistent and build on that performance this week. He isn’t likely to lose the competition outright, but the Giants would certainly feel better about their quarterback position as a whole and looking toward the future if Webb can be the quarterback he showed himself to be in Detroit.
Hunter Sharp needs to stave off Kalif Raymond (and others)
Turnovers on special teams can be a backbreaking mistake. So it wasn’t good when Hunter Sharp nearly had two against the Lions. Sharp had a strong spring, propelling him to reps with the starting offense and getting the first crack at the punt and kick returner job. He hasn’t done much with his opportunities as a receiver and has left something to be desired as a returner.
Kalif Raymond has been the second option behind Sharp at both returner and receiver. He hasn’t set the world on fire either, but Sharp’s issues with ball security might open the door for Raymond if he can prove dependable.
Meanwhile, the Giants’ coaches are beginning to look elsewhere for options beyond Sharp or Raymond. Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Saquon Barkley, and Cody Latimer have all gotten looks as returners, and could be options. The coaching staff likely wouldn’t want to look up the depth chart for a returner, but will if they have to.
There is, of course also the waiver wire as well. There are dozens of receivers, running backs, and defensive backs around the league, and Sharp (and Raymond) are in competition with all of them.
If Sharp wants to keep the shot at a roster spot he earned with his off-season work, he will need to step up.
Can Patrick Omameh be the Giants' best option at right guard?
At this point it appears that the battle at center, between Jon Halapio and Brett Jones is all but over. Halapio has gotten the starts and was named the game-day captain against the Lions while Jones saw just 13 snaps in Detroit.
But next to him, there might still be competition for the right guard spot. Patrick Omameh hasn’t impressed, not distinguishing himself as a run blocker or pass protector. And on the play where Davis Webb was almost sacked for a fumble, Omameh was beaten badly, preventing Webb from avoiding the pressure coming from around Ereck Flowers.
John Jerry remains on the team and could be an option at the right guard spot. As well, the coaching staff seems enamored with John Greco, who has gotten snaps at both guard and center, and has played well at both spots.
Omameh has a (relatively) large contract — and while it shouldn’t, that DOES matter — but he will need to play well against the Jets to stay ahead of any competition for his job.
What can Wayne Gallman do to surpass Jonathan Stewart?
At this point it seems unlikely that Saquon Barkley will see the field against the Jets. He returned to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday, but hamstrings can be tricky and there is no need to take a chance in an unpredictable game environment.
With Barkley continuing to nurse his hamstring, the question now becomes whether Jonathan Stewart or Wayne Gallman will become the backup running back behind Barkley — and starter for the game.
Stewart has the experience and a big contract on his side, but while he has only had 7 carries, he has looked slow and unable to find holes. Gallman, on the other hand, has proven to be an effective — if not especially dynamic — weapon as both a runner and receiver.
Stewart has remained the starting back in practice, so it might be that Gallman will need a strong showing against the Jets. Gallman has been one of the Giants’ best offensive players so far this preseason, but he has yet to convince the coaches that he should be handed the ball in most situations when Barkley is being rested — or just to change things up for the opposing defense.
We should also watch and see if new addition Jhurell Pressley can make some noise since being added this past week. He has already gotten reps with the starters and his raw athleticism is eye-catching.