For the second consecutive practice, the New York Giants tight end Evan Engram working on the side with trainers. After suffering a calf injury against the New England Patriots in the final preseason game of the season, Engram has been working his way back slowly, rehabilitating and hoping for a potential Week 1 appearance. However, the likelihood that Engram plays against Denver is quickly becoming improbable.
In his absence, TE’s Kaden Smith and Kyle Rudolph are expected to take a much bigger role, and this might be the perfect opportunity for them to utilize their qualities against a strong Denver defense. One could make the argument that Engram missing this contest is a positive, as the Giants will likely be forced to operate within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, given an incredibly strong Broncos secondary and solid pass rush.
Last season, quarterback Daniel Jones had little time to allow his receivers to develop their routes, especially when looking vertical. It forced him to check the ball down and coordinator Jason Garrett to call far too many curl/hook routes. Unfortunately, the Giants didn’t do much to improve their offensive line, so Jones is expected to be under duress for the majority of Week 1’s contest.
With that being the case, Smith and Rudolph may present far better options compared to Engram. Last season, Engram dropped eight passes, with six of them coming in the middle of the field within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. In fact, he was connected to six interceptions thrown by Jones in that area, and with his inability to catch fastballs, this might be the perfect opportunity for Jones to locate Smith and Rudolph, who have far better hands in that portion of the field.
Smith, who has two years of NFL experience to his name, only caught 18 passes for 112 yards last season. Back in 2019, he hauled in 31 passes for 268 yards and three scores when Pat Shurmur was calling plays. Smith has three drops in his career, far less than Engram’s mind-blowing 10.4% drop rate.
Rudolph, on the other hand, has only dropped one pass in the last three years. Rudolph’s most lethal zone is from 0 to 10 yards, where he had over 200 yards last season over 12 games. In addition to Smith and Rudolph’s receiving abilities, they are both better blockers than Engram, which should aid in 12 personnel packages for the Giants. If there was any game for Engram to miss, it’s this one, as he is eyeing a Week 2 return against Washington next Thursday.