The New York Giants will be hosting the Chicago Bears in their second preseason game tonight. The Giants are coming off of a preseason week one 31-22 win against the Jets. Daniel Jones stole the show last night with an impressive debut. But he was not the only player to turn in a solid performance last Thursday.
Corey Ballentine, T.J. Jones, and Jake Carlock were other standouts from week one. These players surprised many spectators with various impact plays. Here some more players to keep an eye on in Friday’s contest against Chicago:
The Giants have had a rocky offseason at the wide receiver position. Obviously, they traded away their best receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., in a shocking and controversial fashion. They then went and signed a 31-year old veteran receiver to replace him, Golden Tate. The injuries struck.
To open training camp, Corey Coleman went down with a season-ending injury while Sterling Shepard is still dealing with a thumb fracture. To top it all off, Golden Tate has been suspended for the first four weeks of the season.
Fortunately, the Giants have a lot of depth at this position. Lesser-known receivers like T.J. Jones and Alonzo Russell have been turning heads. But one player to keep an eye on against the Bears is wide receiver, Russell Shepard.
Shepard had the offense’s play of the game against the Jets last week. At the beginning of the second quarter, Shepard beat his man on a slant route from the slot and caught a rifled pass by Alex Tanney, then broke free and ran away for a 52-yard touchdown:
Russell Shepard was on the Giants’ roster last season but was a backup who was rarely given the opportunity to make an impact. This explosive play against the Jets could lead to more targets for Russell Shepard against the Bears. A few more big plays like this and Shepard could see himself getting some serious playing time in the regular season, especially during the first four weeks with Golden Tate suspended.
The New York Giants have the best running back in the NFL in Saquon Barkley. Barkley lead the league in scrimmage yards with 2,028 as a rookie last season and is primed to have an even better year in 2019. He is obviously locked in as the starter and should see no playing time this preseason.
But behind Saquon Barkley there is a positional battle forming for the second-string running back job. Currently, it is a three-way race between Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, and Rod Smith. None of the three looked very good against the Jets but Gallman had the job last year so it is his to lose.
Wayne Gallman received five carries against the Jets and mustered out only 13 rushing yards for an average of 2.6 yards per carry. Not a strong outing but luckily for Gallman, Perkins, and Smith had equally bad or worse nights.
Wayne Gallman needs to separate himself from the pack and secure the second-team running back position. Tonight against a tough defense like the Bears’, Gallman could win the job with a strong outing. Look to see if Wayne can improve his yards per carry and maybe even score a touchdown to secure his position.
Julian Love had an inconsistent game against the Jets last week. He got off to a very poor start but did rebound later in the game with some solid plays. It will be vital for Julian to work out some of those mistakes in tonight’s game.
Against the Jets, Love was beaten in coverage a couple of times early on and made a poor decision on a goal-line pick play to allow the Jets to score a touchdown. Love seemed to settle down towards the end of the first half, though, making an excellent pass breakup with under a minute to go in the second quarter:
The Giants moved Julian Love around the defense a bit last Thursday. He started the game at corner but later moved over to free safety. This adds to the rookie’s professional learning curve since he needs to learn how to play two positions instead of one.
The Giants might need to commit Julian Love to play one position until he gets acclimated, but if they choose not to, Julian Love will continue to demonstrate a high level of versatility for the Giants’ defense.