The New York Giants preseason opener vs. the New York Jets on Saturday night will end with a winner and a loser on the scoreboard. That, though, won’t be important. What will be important is how things play out at several positions where there are ongoing competitions for roster spots.
With that in mind, here are some of the storylines for Saturday night.
Offensive line depth
This has been the story of training camp for the Giants. The retirements of veteran backups Zach Fulton and Joe Looney, expected to be quality depth pieces behind a young and still unproven offensive line, have left the Giants in a bit of disarray.
An early injury to Shane Lemieux didn’t help. Neither did Matt Peart beginning camp on the PUP list. Both of those presumptive starters are back, but the depth is still a mess.
The Giants did sign veteran Ted Larsen on Friday night, but he won’t play vs. the Jets. Nate Solder injured an arm or shoulder on Wednesday and we don’t know if he will play Saturday. Same with veteran reserve center Jonotthan Harrison, who has missed considerable practice time recently.
Beyond those guys, the Giants are left with journeymen Chad Slade and Kenny Wiggins, and a collection of untested undrafted players.
GM Dave Gettleman knows he will likely need to supplement the depth on the line, but wants to see players in live action before he starts shuffling the roster.
“Everybody wants decisions made yesterday. Can we please get in pads and play a game? Can we try that on for size,” Gettleman said this week on Sirius XM NFL Radio.
We should know more about how well the current backups fit after Saturday’s game.
Wide receiver competition
Kenny Golladay isn’t going to play. John Ross did not practice the past few days and probably won’t play. Austin Mack hasn’t practiced for a couple of weeks. If first-round Kadarius Toney plays at all, it will likely be a cameo of just a couple of plays. Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are probably not going to play.
This is a huge opportunity for guys like Dante Pettis, David Sills and Alex Bachman to show they deserve strong roster consideration. Sills has had a great camp. Let’s see if anyone can take advantage.
On the edge, the Giants have a host of players competing for roster spots and playing time. We should see a lot of guys like Cam Brown and Niko Lalos on Saturday, maybe a little of second-round pick Azeez Ojulari and Oshane Ximines, as well. Inside, Tae Crowder is the likely starter. Can Carter Coughlin or Reggie Ragland take the job away from him?
The picture behind James Bradberry, Adoree’ Jackson and Darnay Holmes is unsettled. Sixth-round pick Rodarius Williams has had an excellent camp, and at this point it will be an upset if he doesn’t make the roster.
Ryan Santoso’s chance to shine
The NFL season is a long one — with 17 regular-season games the longest in league history. Graham Gano is a top-notch, veteran placekicker. He knows what he needs to do to be better, and to stay in top form. As such, he has done little live kicking in training camp thus far.
Ryan Santoso, who spent last season on the practice squad, has handled most of the kicking. That figures to continue Saturday night.
Santoso had cups of coffee with the Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions before joining the Giants. He made six of seven field goals on Wednesday night during Fan Fest, including two 54-yarders. He missed only a 58-yard try.
The first preseason game or two could be Santoso’s best chance to put some quality kicks on film for another kicker-needy team.