One of the biggest question marks the New York Giants have at this point is who will emerge as the team’s slot cornerback. Let’s take a look at some of the candidates.
Probably not. Gay, 33 and entering his 12th season, might not even be part of the cornerback picture anymore. Gay looked like the guy the Giants wanted in the slot during spring practices. Since training camp began, though, that has changed. Gay has been working at safety, and as far as I could tell took reps exclusively at free safety. Friday, Gay left practice with a hamstring injury and he watched from the sidelines on Sunday.
Head coach Pat Shurmur has been asked about Gay’s safety reps.
“I think we’re trying to make sure we do what’s best in the secondary. We really still feel like he could play corner, but we also feel like we want to take a look at him at safety and see if he can give us something there,” Shurmur said. “I think he’s very instinctive, he’s a good player, very veteran player, and we’re trying to take advantage of the fact that he’s played a lot of football.”
With Gay playing safety, Teddy Williams requesting his release for personal reasons and injuries piling up, Webb has taken many — if not all — of the first-team reps in the slot. During practice last week, he intercepted Davis Webb in back-to-back practices.
“I think he’s competitive, I think he gets his hands on balls,” Shurmur said of Webb. “Typically, when you’re playing on the interior, the interceptions that you see are tipped balls and overthrows and he’s done a good job of finishing. I’m very fond of any player that can catch, which he has displayed the ability to do and he is really showing us that he knows how to play corner.”
Webb, 27, has played in 49 NFL games for four team. His most extensive action came for the New Orleans Saints in 2016, when he had an interception and 11 passes defensed in 14 games, including 8 starts. Per Pro Football Focus, quarterbacks had a 100.1 passer rating when targeting him in 2016. Webb was with the Cleveland Browns last season, but never appeared in a game.
An undrafted free agent out of Penn State, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Haley might be the UDFA with the best opportunity to make the 53-man roster. The picture at corner remains muddy, and Haley has been impressive at times.
Haley told me recently that not being drafted “definitely hurt.” He knows, however, what he has to do to erase that sting and prove the doubters wrong.
“You’ve gotta perform to play. Every single day I have a chip on my shoulder and I also have in the back of my mind ‘you have to be great today,’ ” he said. “If you want to be part of this team, if you want to play football, if you want to keep living your dream you have to be great today.”
In his third season, Deayon is still trying to prove both that he is good enough and that he is durable enough for the Giants to rely on him. He has ended both of his seasons with the Giants, one on the practice squad and one having spent part of the season on the active roster, on injured reserve. He has had good moments in training camp, but has been on the shelf for the past week with a hamstring injury.
Needing cornerback depth, the Giants added the six-year veteran to the roster on Friday. He has played in 77 games for four teams with 27 starts. The 5-foot-10, 198-pound Johnson worked in the slot during his first practice with the Giants on Saturday.
“We’re going to do everything we can to improve every group on our team,” Shurmur said. “He’s a veteran player, we liked the way he moved around, we like how he played a year ago and we felt like he was a good guy to add to our group.”