The New York Giants played their first preseason game in almost two years last Saturday against their cross-town rival, New York Jets. Gang Green defeated Big Blue for the first time in the preseason since 2015. Though the starters did not play many snaps, a lot of questions turned into hopeful answers and concerns.
The offensive line depth is questionable, the quarterback play behind Daniel Jones is not great, and so on and so forth. Here are five players to watch for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
New York Giants: Five Intriguing Players To Watch Against The Browns
Quarterback Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones is the most intriguing player to watch coming into Sunday’s game. He has had an up and down camp with the starting offense. With Joe Judge’s strategy on preseason games, Jones was held out of last Saturday’s matchup.
Barring any peculiar strategic moves by Kevin Stefanski, Jones will be seeing the Browns’ first-team defense on hand in a live game, rather than the joint practices. This will be a test for both Jones and the starting offensive line. Though the defensive playbook will be bland, pressure is likely to be dialed up on the 3rd-year quarterback, testing his ball security and the offensive line’s play strength.
Though these games do not count as wins, Jones needs to prove he is a better option than Mike Glennon, who struggled in his first preseason outing, and Brian Lewerke, who has never played a preseason game.
Offensive Tackle Nate Solder
The last time Nate Solder was on a football field was before the COVID-19 pandemic. He took the 2020 season off due to personal issues.
Solder struggled in his last season on the field (2019), allowing 11 sacks and 57 pressures on both Jones and Eli Manning. The New York Giants opted to draft over him and took Georgia offensive tackle, Andrew Thomas, with their 2020 first-round pick.
Unlike some offensive linemen so far, Solder has stayed the course throughout minicamps and training camp under Joe Judge. Surprisingly, Judge held him out of last week’s game.
With Matt Peart and Andrew Thomas easing into the picture as the starting offensive tackles, Solder needs to prove he can still play at 33 years old. The offensive line depth is not too great on the team, as the second unit allowed Clayton Thorson to get sacked four times last Saturday. Chad Slade and Jackson Barton played the tackle spots.
The presumption is that even though Solder took an off-year, he is better than any backup offensive tackle on this team. However, he needs to prove it come Sunday.
Running Back Gary Brightwell
Surprisingly, Joe Judge held Gary Brightwell out of last Saturday’s game against the New York Jets. This past week when the Giants cut down to 85 players, the team released Alfred Morris. Morris held the fort down in 2020 along with Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis as the backup running backs. The Giants selected Brightwell in the sixth round of April’s draft out of Arizona.
This past week’s game saw Morris, Devontae Booker, Corey Clement, and Sandro Platzgummer share carries. With Morris now gone, and Saquon Barkley not playing in the pre-season, Brightwell’s opportunity has arrived.
Besides being a developmental running back, Brightwell also offers value on special teams – which is Judge’s specialty. Seeing him on Saturday should answer some questions about the sixth-round pick.
Offensive Linemen Jonotthan Harrison
As of right now, the New York Giants do not have a clear-cut backup center. Spencer Pulley was the backup for the prior three years and now he is gone. The Giants signed Jonotthan Harrison back in February to a reserve/futures contract. With no other major signings on the offensive line, many presumed Harrison to be the backup center due to his experience.
The Giants signed veteran interior offensive linemen Zach Fulton and Joe Looney, decreasing Harrison’s chances of making the roster. Both linemen retired during training camp, so Harrison is back where he started with Big Blue.
An injury held Harrison from playing against his former team last week. He is back practicing this week, as there are expected to be personnel switches on the second team unit after last week’s horrendous performance. Brett Heggie played center on the second team last week.
If healthy, Harrison’s veteran experience should give Big Blue the much-needed depth on the offensive line.
Cornerback Adoree Jackson
With the preseason approaching the second full week, many are waiting to see what Adoree Jackson has in stock. The Giants signed Jackson on a three-year, $39-million contract back in March.
The Tennessee Titans originally drafted Jackson in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. After a few years, the Titans released Jackson in March, declaring him a bust. Inconsistencies and injuries spouts spoiled his first-round draft hype. Now, he has a fresh start in the big apple.
While weaknesses were the causes of Jackson’s career downfall in Tennessee, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has a reputation to play players to their strengths, much like he did with Isaac Yiadom and Ryan Lewis in 2020. Jackson has more upside, being more physical and presenting more speed.
Unlike in Tennessee, Jackson will be the second cornerback opposite Pro Bowler James Bradberry. Though Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry are not likely playing Sunday, Baker Mayfield will throw a few test passes at the former USC Trojan.
From there, the Giants can start to evaluate whether they made the right signing at cornerback.
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