The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 40-38 on Thursday night in an overall thrilling game.
Now that the preseason is just wrapping up, the Giants have important decisions to make in regards to their Week 1 53-man roster. There are a lot of roster decisions to be made by Giants head coach Ben McAdoo by the Saturday deadline.
In this article, I look at Giants’ players who stood out in their performance on Thursday night.
In an underwhelming backup quarterback battle throughout the preseason, Geno Smith showed up when it mattered most. Especially when his job is on the line.
Smith completed ten of 11 pass attempts for 111 yards and one touchdown in first half action. Smith looked poised in the pocket and picked apart New England’s backup defensive squad. Normally that would be enough to secure a job on an NFL roster. However, he had competition on Thursday night.
It looked to be a tough act to follow for Josh Johnson after stepping in for Smith. However, just like Smith, Johnson stepped his game up to solidify the second-string QB spot on the Giants roster.
Johnson completed 11 of 14 pass attempts for 135 yards and one touchdown in relief of Smith. Johnson not only threw a touchdown, but he helped lead a touchdown drive which saw Shaun Draughn run it in for a one-yard touchdown.
With Eli Manning’s and rookie Davis Webb’s spots secured from the start of the preseason, head coach Ben McAdoo has a tough decision to make after strong performances from both Johnson and Smith.
Let’s look away from the quarterbacks and look at a true star-making performance from career practice squad tight end Matt LaCosse.
LaCosse played a major part in the Giants’ offense, where he hauled in two touchdown receptions, a 25-yard catch from Smith and a two-yard catch from Johnson. Not only that, but LaCosse made crucial blocks in the running game. In fact, one of those blocks helped lead to Draughn’s one-yard touchdown.
With Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, and Jerrell Adams likely to make the squad already, LaCosse is giving McAdoo no choice but to keep him. LaCosse’s case was further helped when Will Tye had a costly fumble in the first quarter. LaCosse might have sealed the fourth TE position on this Giants team.
As mentioned earlier, Draughn scored a one-yard touchdown run in this preseason game. But now, let’s look at Draughn’s total numbers in this game.
The six-year veteran rushed for 54 yards on 14 carries, as well as hauling in two receptions for 25 yards. Those are strong numbers for Draughn, but it may be too little, too late. Thursday night was Draughn’s first bulk of preseason action, as he was recovering from ankle surgery in June, and from a concussion suffered last week against the Jets.
It will be tough for the Giants to keep Draughn due to his limited performance throughout the preseason. Orleans Darkwa is the favorite to be the No.3 RB after his 40-yard performance on six carries.
Although his stint with the Giants appears to have come to an end, Draughn will certainly draw interest from the other 31 teams in the league.
The linebacker position was once the weakest part of the Giants. Now, it is one of the deepest positions on the defensive side of the ball.
That point was solidified by J.T. Thomas, who has been lighting it up on his return tour after suffering a torn ACL in last season’s opening game against the Dallas Cowboys.
After a strong game last weekend against the New York Jets, Thomas followed it up in Foxboro, where he dominated at weakside linebacker. Thomas proved that in one particular play, where he punched the ball out of fullback Glenn Gronkowski hands, leading to a fumble recovery from fellow linebacker Stansly Maponga.
With this play, Thomas clutched his way to a roster spot in Big Blue’s final preseason game.
The Giants kicking situation looked to be iffy after Robbie Gould left for San Francisco in free agency. Big Blue answered that by signing former undrafted free agent Aldrick Rosas.
Still concerned about Rosas’ ability to kick at a professional level, the Giants brought in 14-year veteran Mike Nugent to compete with the 22-year-old.
Throughout the preseason, Rosas and Nugent rotated through the first three games, and were both successful. On Thursday night, McAdoo gave Rosas his true test, playing an entire preseason game. Rosas passed that test with flying colors, where he was successful on all four of his field goal attempts. What sealed the deal for Rosas was his clutch, last-second 48-yard field goal to give the Giants the victory.
This game may have been the confidence booster that Rosas needed, as he now appears to be Big Blue’s kicker not just this season, but for the future.
With the preseason officially over, Ben McAdoo now has to trim his roster down to 53 players by this Saturday, 4 p.m. ET.
Stay tuned, as Double G Sports will keep you posted once the official 53-man roster is released on Saturday afternoon.