Friday night’s Blue-White Scrimmage in MetLife Stadium will be the apex of the COVID-19 altered training camp for the New York Giants. What should we expect from the event, which begins at approximately 7:15 p.m.?
Coach Joe Judge said that without the benefit of preseason games, the Giants will make this as close to a game environment as possible.
“There are certain scenarios I want to make sure that we build in. At some point, I may want to see a two-minute end of half, two-minute end of game, a four-minute situation. I may want to see some low red zone work if that doesn’t come up. I have the freedom to kind of flex it and say spot the ball at a certain point,” Judge said. “But I’m going to start with the mentality that we’re going to go out there and play ball. We’re going to simulate this game as much as we can and we’ll let it be natural. Start with a kickoff, kick return, wherever the ball lies, we’re just going to play it from there. It’ll be offense vs. defense. If they go three and out, we punt, we bring out the twos, they go ahead and play.”
The Jason Garrett-led offense will be on one sideline. The Patrick Graham-led defense will be on the other. The Giants will have some of their coaches upstairs communicating with the sideline, as they would in a regular game. There is expected to be artificial crowd noise in the empty stadium.
“We’ll get our first taste of what the game situation is going to feel like on Friday when we have that artificial noise. That will be our first sample as coaches and players of exactly how loud that’s going to be,” Judge said. “We are going to simulate everything for the game as it will be on September 14th, with a few exceptions obviously. It’s going to be as close to a game as possible.”
Believe it or not, teams have to cut their rosters to the regular season 53-man limit on Sept. 5, just eight days from now. That makes Friday night the last best chance for players competing for both starting starting jobs and roster spots to make their cases. Let’s look at a few of the position battles to focus on during the scrimmage.
A few days ago we took a “stock up/stock down” look at the group of young players competing for reserve roles at this position. Nothing has really changed here, except that Tony Brown is no longer on the roster.
David Sills V, Alex Bachman and Austin Mack have all had excellent training camps. Binjimen Victor and Derrick Dillon probably have to make a splash — and soon — to have a chance at a roster spot. There are likely only a couple of roster spots available. Who will grab them? The practice squad is an option for any of these guys who don’t make the 53-man roster.
This is another position where we recently did a stock report. I have been lumping cornerback and safety together when considering the roster simply because of the flexible way in which Graham is likely to employ coverage players.
What looms over this position is the impending additions of cornerbacks Brandon Williams and KeiVarae Russell, both of whom have been undergoing COVID-19 testing protocols and awaiting physicals, to the 80-man roster.
That puts added heat on some of the young cornerbacks to perform. Undrafted rookie Jarren Williams has gotten the Giants’ attention. Right now, he would seem safe. Players like Grant Haley, Christian Angulo, Prince Smith and Dravon Askew-Henry could all use solid performances.
At safety, the injury to Xavier McKinney opens a spot. Can the Giants keep both Montre Hartage and Sean Chandler on the 53-man roster?
This is another spot where I am lumping two groups together for the purposes of considering eventual roster construction.
Inside linebacker has gotten complicated. David Mayo will miss a few weeks with a torn meniscus. Best guess is the Giants simply carry him on the 53-man roster until he is ready to play.
The status of second-year linebacker Ryan Connelly is also a concern. Connelly was back at practice on Thursday, but sat out for a roughly a week as he continues to recover from a torn ACL. Can he be relied upon at the start of the season?
Defensive leader Blake Martinez missed Thursday’s practice. Judge said he was “not overly concerned,” but it would be comforting to see Martinez in action Friday night.
Devante Downs, an afterthought a year ago, could emerge as a regular player at this spot.
Is there room for both rookie seventh-round picks Tae Crowder and T.J. Brunson on the roster? What about Josiah Tauaefa?
Outside linebacker is crowded with Markus Golden, Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines and Kyler Fackrell. Is there room for both Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin? Can one of them make a splash Friday night?
Those of us who have witnessed at least a handful of practices believe the center competition between Nick Gates and Spencer Pulley is settled. The Giants insist that it’s not, that it’s “scratch even” to use a Judge phrase. Pulley has been sidelined for the past few practices and likely won’t participate on Friday. That would seem to mean this is Gates’ chance to grab the job once and for all.
With a couple of backup spots potentially open, undrafted players Tyler Haycraft and Kyle Murphy have chances to impress Friday night.
A few more questions
- Can the Giants find roster space for both Wayne Gallman and Javon Leake at running back. How does newly-signed rookie Tavien Feaster fit in?
- With Austin Johnson and Daylon Mack on the roster, will former Giants’ draft picks R.J. McIntosh and Chris Slayton get bumped?
- If the Giants keep a third quarterback, will it be Cooper Rush or Alex Tanney?