Even prior to their first preseason clash with the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday night, the New York Football Giants have had their fair share of turmoil before and during training camp. In fact, the team lost two critical starters to injury in left tackle Will Beatty and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul before they even suited up on the practice field. While many eyes will be on Beatty’s replacement Ereck Flowers, and depth chart starter Kerry Wynn at defensive end, at Paul Brown Stadium on Friday, other players should be playing like their roster spot is at stake, because it might be.
Let us take a look at the players who will have to prove themselves early and often on Friday night:
- JAYRON HOSLEY: As far as being noticeable on the practice field, Hosley is, but for the wrong reasons. At Saturday’s practice Hosley was knocked down twice trying to block in special teams drills. Then he took over for Chykie Brown, when Brown went down with an injury on Saturday and promptly blew a coverage. One has to think that Hosley has exhausted his nine lives as a Giants with injuries, a drug suspension and poor play, but yet he remains. With starting cornerback Prince Amukamara and back-up Chykie Brown out on Friday against the Bengals, Hosley will undoubtedly see the field a lot. Given the fact that journeymen Tevin Wade and Mike Harris have competed well in training camp, it would not be out of the realm of possibility that Hosley gets his walking papers this summer, but we have said that before. When asked if he thought Hosley would progress this season, Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin replied, “I’m hoping. He certainly came back in excellent condition and I think he’s very serious about it right now and he’s trying and he senses this is a critical, critical camp for him. We’re all hoping he comes through in the fashion we thought of him when we drafted him.”
- PRESTON PARKER: Parker was a terrific safety net for Big Blue last season at the wide receiver position and on special teams. His ability to return punts and kickoffs was helpful to the team in 2014, as return artists Quintin Demps and Tridon Holliday did not provide anything special. In fact, Holliday never suited up for the G-men, so Parker filled an important void last season. This year, the Giants have brought in Dwayne Harris from the Dallas Cowboys to handle both kickoff and punt returns, and by trade, Harris is a wide receiver, thus eliminating one potential roster spot for Parker. With Odell Beckham, Jr., Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Dwayne Harris locked into positions, and veteran James Jones, youngster Corey Washington and rookie Geremy Davis in the mix, Parker may be on the outside looking in the next few weeks, even if he did have 36 catches for 418 yards and two touchdowns last season. Most would figure on the Giants keeping six wideouts on the roster.
- RYAN NASSIB: For the most part, the Giants almost always keep only two quarterbacks on the roster, and this season should prove no different. Heading into his third year, Nassib understands what is expected of him during preseason practice and games. “They’re pretty important,” Nassib said yesterday to the Associated Press about this week’s workouts and game in Cincinnati. “It’s going to be a big evaluation tool for our coaching staff, but really I have to go out there and prepare like it’s any other opponent.” At Saturday’s practice, it appeared that third stringer Ricky Stanzi had a stronger arm than Nassib, and Stanzi also seemed to throw the ball on the run better than the former Syracuse Orange signal-caller. Nassib beat out Curtis Painter in the quarterback competition last year, largely on a stellar effort against the Indianapolis Colts, but back-ups are only as good as their last outing, so Nassib will have to prove himself again this year.
- BRETT JONES: The first thing that stands out when you see Jones on the field is how much shorter he is than the other lineman. Jones, who is officially listed at 6-2, only took repetitions at center on Saturday, and most, if not all with the third unit. With veteran Dallas Reynolds installed as the back-up to Weston Richburg at center; the Giants will not be keeping three players in the middle of the offensive line. Given the fact that Reynolds can play guard in a pinch, it seems like the best lineman in Canada may not be long for the game south of the Canadian border.
- ADRIEN ROBINSON: Another player like Jayron Hosley who continues to beat the odds, Robinson has been largely invisible for a man of his size (6-4 265 lbs.), since he came into the league in 2012. Robinson finally shook off injuries to play in 16 games last season, after only playing in three in his first two years in the NFL. On the downside, Robinson only caught five passes for the entire 2014 campaign, and you see that his career has been more sizzle than steak. With undrafted free agent Jermaine Cunningham making an impression at the tight end position, Robinson will need these preseason games to prove his worth to the coaching staff. Given the fact that Stony Brook product Will Tye has not distinguished himself in camp, Robinson will likely see a plethora of playing time in all four preseason games to make his case to the coaching staff, but don’t hold your breath.