The New York Football Giants face several difficult decisions in their quest to get down to the NFL mandated 53-man roster by next Saturday. Training camp injuries muddied an already murky situation, which was then worsened by two serious injuries (Geoff Schwartz and Marcus Harris) against the New York Jets on Friday night. New York will have to get down to the league-mandated 75 player roster by 4:00 p.m. (EDT) Tuesday.
Let’s take a look at what may transpire over the next week.
QUARTERBACK: Eli Manning is the starter, and given the fact that Curtis Painter did not play on Friday, we can assume that Ryan Nassib has locked up the backup job. Painter has acquitted himself well in training camp, and he should be able to find work with another team at some point this season. Painter will stay through this round of cuts, if only to play against the New England Patriots on Thursday. Keeping only two quarterbacks saves a roster spot for New York to use in keeping another offensive lineman, defensive lineman or wide receiver. In addition, Nassib’s base salary of $495,000 is less than Painter’s $730,000, according to OverTheCap.com. The Giants may want to scour the waiver wire for a practice squad eligible quarterback, in case they want to rest Manning or Nassib during the season.
CORNERBACK: The Giants will likely keep six cornerbacks: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond II, Trumaine McBride, Prince Amukamara and Zack Bowman would appear to be the first five. Number six might come in the form of second-year cornerback Charles James II. The free agent from Charleston Southern is the thing that would not leave. The kid maximizes his talent, despite the fact that his size (5-9, 179 lbs.) does work against him. Given the fact that Jayron Hosley is facing a four-game suspension at the beginning of the season and also played poorly before getting hurt, I expect James to be on the final 53-man roster when all is said and done. in addition to James. Rookie sixth round draft pick Bennett Jackson might be a candidate for the practice squad, and Ross Weaver is likely to be cut o Tuesday. What the Giants do with Hosley is anyone’s guess at this point.
RUNNING BACK: This is another area where a training camp injury causes some shuffling. My guess is that the G-men keep five running backs, which includes Rashad Jennings, Henry Hynoski and Andre Williams for sure. Peyton Hillis has not practiced or played in several weeks, but he is expected back this week (where have we heard that before?) Kendall Gaskins played against the Jets, but Michael Cox did not. Gaskins was a late addition to the Giants’ practice squad last year after being in camp with the Buffalo Bills, so reading the signals, he stays. Cox will likely be kept around past Tuesday as a hedge against the health, or lack thereof, of Hillis. We will only know the truth once we see Hillis on the field this week, or not.
LINEBACKER: In terms of being locks to be on Saturday’s 53-man roster, there are three linebackers at this point: Jameel McClain, Jacquian Williams and Devon Kennard. Where is Jon Beason? Not yet on the field, which means he still could be a candidate to start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and miss the first six weeks. Just like the Hillis injury, believe what you see, not what you hear. My sense is that if Beason goes on the PUP list, then the Giants may only keep five linebackers initially. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has been using a lot of three safety sets in practice, so the team could make adjustments. Chances are that the team hangs onto Spencer Paysinger, like a kid hanging onto a security blanket. This is a case of someone not playing themselves off the roster, but what has he done that makes him a given either? Mark Herzlich is valued because of his special teams play, but the idea that he is an NFL starter no longer exists. Could rookie Devon Kennard take Herzlich’s place on special teams? Absolutely. But Kennard is becoming too valuable to risk injury in that way.
I believe that Spencer Adkins and Terrell Manning might be included in the first round of cuts on Tuesday, and that Justin Anderson or Dan Fox are good practice squad candidates.
Tomorrow I will be looking at some other positions.