The calendar flipped to September today, bringing to mind returning to school, the autumn wind, and, of course football. Summer is in full force in New Jersey, with temperatures in the upper 80’s and humidity high, as the Giants took to the practice field to begin preparations for their season opener against the Detroit Lions one week from tonight.
The first depth chart of the regular season was out on giants.com and most of the starters are as expected, there were a few surprises. Keep in mind, this is subject to change and likely will before the team takes the field next Monday Night, and the starting defense against the Lions high powered offense will probably feature a nickel package with two linebackers and extra cornerback Walter Thurmond.
The offensive line lists Weston Richburg as the starter at left guard, with Dallas Reynolds backing him up. Richburg is also the backup to J.D. Walton at center. Brandon Mosley, who is nursing a sore back and did not practice today, is the listed starter at right guard, backed up by John Jerry. Charles Brown, who returned to practice from a shoulder injury, is the backup at left tackle to starter Will Beatty, while James Brewer, who also missed time with a back injury, returned to practice and is backing up starting right tackle Justin Pugh.
Coughlin said that Mosley is better today than we was on Saturday, and if he continued to improve, “Perhaps” will be able to practice later in the week. He also noted that John Jerry “With 50 some snaps, did well” in Thursday night’s preseason finale against New England. Facing a tough challenge against the Lions talented front four, the offensive line will have to “Communicate their way through it.” Here’s hoping that communication is not looking back at Eli Manning and telling him to “Look out.”
The starting tight end is Larry Donnell, backed up by Daniel Fells. Adrien Robinson is the third tight end on the roster. Tom Coughlin cautioned that the team is not settled at the position and has not determined the starter for the Detroit game.
Corey Washington is listed as fifth wide receiver behind Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Jerrell Jernigan, and Preston Parker, but said he has been working in four receiver red zone sets where his height would provide him with an distinct advantage. He did not receive playing time with the starting offense during the preseason, and therefore it will be doubtful to see him on the field at other times early in the season, barring injuries. Washington said he knew he made the team when Giants Director of Player Development David Tyree sent him a text early on Saturday morning. He tweeted the good news, alerting astute media and fans to his good fortune.
On defense, a mild depth chart surprise is Jonathan Hankins being listed as one of the starting defensive tackles ahead of Mike Patterson. Hankins has been starting presumably due to Patterson’s shoulder injury, but in Thursday’s game, Patterson entered the game after the second year defensive tackle, tipping the team’s hand on this move. With Cullen Jenkins, Hankins, and Patterson, the Giants have a solid trio of defensive tackle to rotate during games.
The starting linebackers are listed as Jacquian Williams (weak side), Jameel McClain (middle), and Devon Kennard (strong side), although Jon Beason returned to practice, as expected, today. Coughlin addressed Beason’s return and said he is practicing with a set amount of reps this week, and depending on how he look and feels after, the team will determine how much he will play against the Lions. Expect to see him on the field to defend against the run in the game.
Beason talked to the media as well, and expressed satisfaction at being back on the practice field, especially with his being able to work on his tackling form. Although able to work on moves and coverage while on the PUP list, these drills don’t replace live tackling. Beason also said “You can’t lead if you’re not in the fire with the guys. How can I tell you what to do when I’m drinking Gatorade.”
Jason Pierre-Paul was more emphatic about the impact Beason has on the defense, “We were 0-6 and then we started winning when we had him at middle linebacker… That’s the middle man. He’s got to get us all our calls. Without a middle linebacker, we got nothing.”
Prince Amukamara also returned to practice, and should start at his right cornerback spot on Monday night.
Final note on the depth chart – as expected, Quintin Demps is the kick returner, along with Parker and Jernigan. Parker will return punts, backed up by Randle. Odell Beckham, upon his return, will ascend to the top of the punt return list in short order.
Beckham was on the sidelines working with trainers again today, but don’t ask Coughlin about him, he will let the media know when Beckham’s ready, “Settle down and let the kid get better,” pleads Coughlin. When pressed further, he elaborated, “Every day, it’s the same question over and over. He is not ready to play. It may be a couple, three weeks before he’s ready. We have a game to play. Can we talk about the guys that are playing in the game instead of the guys on the injury report? Thank you for bearing with me on that.”
Giants360 is calling for Beckham’s return no sooner than week 3 against the Houston Texans. If he misses that game, the next is a short turnaround Thursday Night affair at Washington, therefore won’t play until week 5 at home against the Atlanta Falcons.
Mathias Kiwanuka sees a lot of potential in the 2014 Giants defense, saying “If healthy, we can be one of the best defenses in the league.” Giants360 agrees and will tell you why when we publish our season preview later this week. Kiwanuka recognizes a familiar fire burning within Coughlin, “You can see it in his eyes. He wants to win. Now.” The defensive end also expressed confidence in Manning, “With Eli on the roster, there is always a chance for a comeback.” Kiwanuka had the quote of the day when he teased the press, “I hate to break it to you, but what you guys write doesn’t influence anything that happens on the field.” And here I thought my roster projection was must reading for Jerry Reese and Coughlin before Saturday’s cuts. Way to burst my bubble, Mathias.
There are a few miscellaneous notes – offensive tackle Roger Gaines cleared waivers and reverted to the Giants injured reserve list. Linebacker Justin Anderson, defensive tackle Emmanuel Dieke, and cornerback Travis Howard are not listed on the injured reserve list, indicating they likely received injury settlements and their outright release. Other than Kelcey Quarles, who was claimed by the Patriots, all the other waived Giants cleared. The Giants have not announced any waiver claims or active roster changes since Saturday. Offensive tackle Mark Asper was announced as the eight player on the team’s practice squad. The other seven can be seen on Giants360.com
Pugh moved into hallowed space in the locker room, Chris Snee’s old locker. Before Snee resided there, it belonged to Rich Seubert. Two player changed number – Washington now wears 88, he was 6 in the preseason, and defensive end Kerry Wynn is wearing 72 after being 69 for the preseason.
Guard Adam Gettis, fifth round pick of the Washington Redskins in 2012, who played in 13 games last season, with no starts, is scheduled to try out for the Giants tomorrow. He visited the Packers yesterday and left without signing a contract. Gettis, 6’2″, and 293 pounds, played college football for Iowa.
Practice is more restricted as the regular season is underway and the team is in full game plan mode for upcoming opponents. There are more closed sessions and information is more guarded to avoid giving away any perceived advantages. Giants360 is committed to bringing you all the latest news, notes, and rumors available in one easily digested format, and will continue search for new and unique sources for everything Giants related.
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