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New York Giants Preseason Week 1 Preview: Cleveland Browns

Televised New York Giants football returns on Thursday night. It certainly has a lot of buzz, as the Giants face off against the new-look Cleveland Browns.

While yes, it is preseason, there is still plenty to pay attention to and keep an eye out on.

Saquon Barkley on Snap Count?

Just this past Saturday, first round pick Saquon Barkley didn’t take a single rep in practice. Many thought he suffered a mysterious injury, but that wasn’t the case.

Head coach Pat Shurmur said Barkley is healthy, and he is managing the rookie’s workload. So what does that mean for Thursday night?

Barkley has been adamant in recent days that he will play against Cleveland. Based off of Shurmur’s comments, the rookie could be on the field for a very limited amount of time, about the same Eli Manning normally plays in a preseason game. Injuries can happen in preseason, so don’t expect the Giants to risk it.

Will OBJ Play?

Speaking of, Odell Beckham Jr is all the talk of Giants training camp, but mostly for his contract. There have been many conflicting reports. Some say Beckham’s agent left over a “lowball offer” and others are reporting the Giants would make Beckham the highest paid wide receiver in the league.

Putting the contract talks behind, it appears very unlikely Beckham will see the field on Thursday. He is coming off a fractured ankle, and he had an injury scare last preseason, ironically, against the Browns. As mentioned in the topic before, Shurmur is highly unlikely to risk injuries to his starters.

Right Side of the Offensive Line

The left side of the offensive line is essentially solidified with free agent acquisition Nate Solder and second-round pick Will Hernandez. So what about the right side along the line of scrimmage?

The ever-long project with Ereck Flowers continues. The left tackle experiment was a colossal failure, but now the Giants will look to see if Flowers can perform at a higher level at right tackle. So far at training camp, the results have been mixed. At times he looked good, and at other times, he looked bad.

Behind him on the depth chart are Chad Wheeler and Victor Salako, who we should get a better look at as the game progresses.

In terms of right guard, Patrick Omameh is the main who will get the start, as New York signed him from the Jacksonville Jaguars, shortly after they signed Andrew Norwell. Omameh has had a lot of work this training camp partnered up next to Flowers. Both have seen pressure on blitzes and stunts, which gives them more time to adjust to those moves the deeper we get into camp.

The other options at right guard is John Jerry and Chris Scott. We should get a better idea of who wins the jobs on the right side of the line once we get closer to the start of the regular season.

Secondary Depth

It’s no secret that the Giants secondary took a massive hit this offseason. Their supplemental draft pick, Sam Beal, is done for the season with a shoulder injury. Teddy Williams requested his release from the team in order to deal with a family health issue.

Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple are the starters, there’s no question about it. But what about the rest of the corners?

Donte Deayon was having yet another strong training camp, but has been dealing with a hamstring injury for the past week. The team did sign veteran Leonard Johnson, formerly of the Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers, to compete for a roster spot. Not to mention they have B.W. Webb and Chris Lewis-Harris as well.

Recently, however, the Giants signed Mike Basile of Monmouth University on Wednesday, who has notably put up stronger shuttle and three-cone drills than any safety that participated in the scouting combine. Not to mention he was the program’s all-time leader in tackles (433). Basile is a name to watch, as he has the chance to earn a spot as the team’s nickelback.

Third Round Picks on the Defense

Besides Barkley and Hernandez, defensive lineman B.J. Hill was the only rookie to land on top of the team’s first unofficial depth chart. Hill has been the surprise of camp, as he exuded speed and aggressiveness throughout drills, catching the eyes of coaches and starting nose tackle Damon Harrison.

As Hill said, he’s “excited to hit people,” and he gets that chance on Thursday.

Then there’s Lorenzo Carter, who has been called one of the more consistent defensive performers at practices, earning the praise of defensive coordinator James Bettcher. The Giants have long lacked a strong presence at linebacker. Now, they have a young player like Carter, who knows all about success, especially this past season at Georgia. Not to mention, he lines up alongside a fellow Bulldog in Alec Ogletree. He may not be a starter now, but he has the chance to earn that spot as the preseason continues.

A Whole Lot of Baker

While all eyes are on Barkley, the same can be said for the first overall pick of this year’s draft, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

For the Browns, Tyrod Taylor is going to be the starter at the start of the season. With that in mind, he will not see a lot of snaps on Thursday night, and Mayfield is in line to play in two-plus quarters, which makes for must-see television.

Now, it’s a matter of how the Giants defense will handle him. The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner is an elusive quarterback, who can move with his feet and throw on the run, which in turn, creates explosive plays. While, yes, he will be playing against the second-team defense, you can bet a lot of eyes will be glued on him, and as a result, attention will be on the Giants defensive squad.

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Scott Rogust
General Editor and New York Giants Lead Writer.
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