– by Alexander George
As we approach the end of training camp, which started on July 25th and will end tomorrow on August 7th, the stories below can dictate either the success or failure of the 2018 season.
1) B.J. Hill : A Jack of All Trades
It has been already established, from OTA’s, that rookie B.J. Hill already is considered an established starter in the Giants organization. With his ability to avoid blockers by moving in a laterally agile way, management wants to check him out in other defensive line positions as well. Most notably is the move from defensive end to nose tackle to see if this may be his eventual starter position if and when Damon Harrison leaves via free agency.
2) Jon Halapio: The Underdog Center
Originally, Brett Jones was supposed to be the starting center for the Giants in the 2018 season. Jones stepped in for Weston Richburg to play center for 12 games last season. But head coach Pat Shurmur, who was once a center himself in the NFL, recognized Jon Halapio’s ability to snap the ball with ease and the ability to communicate effectively the defensive alignment to the rest of the offensive line. Halapio was given every opportunity to be the center for first team reps in OTAs and training camp.
3) Any Giants Secondary Players not Injured?
One of the most revealing situations of the Giants training camp is their depleted secondary, due to nagging day – to – day hamstring injuries. Some injuries are due to aging veterans signing a 1 or 2 year deal with the team, such as (S) Curtis Riley or (CB) William Gay. Others involve players who have not conditioned well, such as (CB) Donte Deyon. Granted these injuries are not serious enough for these players to currently miss any regular season games, but they do cause a certain dread as to how fragile they really are. One of the direct blows to the team’s secondary is a season ending shoulder injury for cornerback Sam Beal, who was drafted in the Supplemental NFL Draft. Granted the organization was able to plug that hole with free agent cornerback Leonard Johnson, from the Bills. But a paper-thin secondary at this point of the 2018 season will needed a few more secondary acquisitions in order to solidify the defense.
4) The Shuffling Game of the Second and Third String Offensive Lineman
The starting offensive lineman are pretty much set. Nate Solder, acquired from the Patriots will be playing left tackle transferring Ereck Flowers to right tackle. Rookie Will Hernandez and Patrick Omameh will be at the guard positions while Jon Halapio will fortify the center of the offensive line. The back-up positions are in constant flux. Chad Wheeler, originally right tackle, and Nick Benton flipped tackle positions on second team drills. John Jerry switched from second team guard to third team right tackle while switching back to his original position once newly acquired Victor Salako, from Browns, took the third right tackle spot. So any stability in determining back up positions will not be resolved until after the pre-season games.
5) Saquon Barkley Used as a Receiver
As you can see from the videos provided by broadcast journalists Matt Lombardo and Jordan Raanan, Saquon Barkley has been matched up with various defensive coverages from Alec Ogletree, Janoris Jenkins, and Olivier Vernon as a wide receiver. Barkley was successful during each 1 on 1 confrontation. His ability as a wide receiver in college (102 REC., 1,195 YDS & 8TDs) gives head coach Pat Shurmur an added dimension to carry out his offensive game plan of using running backs, in this case Barkley, as wide receivers.
6) Eli Manning : Still Strong at 37
A lot has been said about questioning Eli Manning’s arm strength. One look at this video though of the quarterback delivering an airmail perfect pass to Russell Shepard will quiet non believers.
7) Davis Webb: Clearly the Back – Up
Picking up right where he left off, Davis Webb has clearly separated himself from recently drafted Kyle Lauletta to be the back-up quarterback to Eli Manning. Webb has been accurate most of training camp highlighted by this video of a scrambling Webb throwing a deep pass to Kalif Raymond. At this point in the depth chart, Kyle Lauletta and Alex Tanney are competing to just make the team.
8) Evan Engram: The Jekyll and Hyde of Tight Ends
Last season, Evan Engram (64 REC, 722 YDS, 6TDs) was clearly the team’s best wide receiver. However, he also led all tight ends in the league with 11 dropped passes. Incorporated in the Shurmur plan, by lining up on the outside, Engram has matched up well with secondary players Landon Collins and William Gay on passing plays. His full-team reps in training camp, which have unfortunately led to a few dropped passes in the later half of camp, is a testament of the organization’s confidence in Engram to produce as a great tight end receiver this season
and accumulate Gronk and Travis Kelce type yardage.
9) Kalif and Atta: The Supplemental Wide Receiver Package
Cody Latimer, acquired from the Broncos, was considered as the third positional wide receiver in OTAs. However, the mindset of the organization has changed now where there will be a supporting cast of personnel sharing the spot. Both Klaif Raymond, the deep threat weapon, and Amba Etta-Tawo, the speedster who finds the open spot, figure prominently as the two leading candidates to accompany Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard as the additional receving compliment.
10) Field Goal Kicker Aldrick Rosas Stays With the Giants for now
Despite Aldrick Rosas struggles last season, kicking only 72% of his field goals with 3 missed extra points, it seems that the Giants will give him another chance. The veteran kicker that the team may have matched Rosas with, Mike Nugent, just signed with the Oakland Raiders over the weekend. Also, salary cap limitations and other essential field position issues took priority over acquiring a veteran kicker. Rosas does competition though from an undrafted free agent acquired by the Miami Dolphins in 2016 named Marshall Koehn who has not played a game in the NFL. Rosas is expected to be the starting kicker on opening day.
After tomorrow’s training camp session, the pre-season starts for the New York Giants this Thursday with a home Met Life game against the Cleveland Browns at 7:00pm EST.