Making the Call on New York Giants' Hardest Remaining Cuts
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The end is coming quickly for nearly two dozen members of the New York Giants.
By 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, Big Blue will need to jettison 22 players in order to get down to the 53-man roster that will start the regular season.
While some positions appear set like at linebacker and cornerback, others will require hard decisions and tough goodbyes.
The following slides reveal five Giants players who will likely be out of a job on Saturday night. These are the guys that the coaching staff and front office will spend the most time on in contemplating their fates.
The players are ordered by how hard the cuts will be to make for the Giants, from both an emotional and performance standpoint. Where the player was drafted and how long they have been with the team, among other factors, are also used to determine their spots.
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The Giants will likely keep four running backs on their 53-man roster. They did so last year in coming out of the preseason and the need to do so again this year seems even greater since their No. 2 running back, Andre Brown, has proven to be injury-prone in his short NFL career.
With Big Blue currently only carrying five running backs, the numbers are in Da'Rel Scott’s favor. Unfortunately, he appears to be the odd man out.
After two unimpressive seasons where he didn’t get much of an opportunity to flash the talent that motivated general manager Jerry Reese to select him in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL draft, Scott has failed to stand out in training camp.
He has amassed a measly 12 rushing yards on 11 carries in two preseason games, missing the game against the Indianapolis Colts due to a shoulder injury, while his competition, veteran Ryan Torain and rookie Michael Cox, each has one impressive performance to their credit.
Scott’s main problems are balance and strength. He has a hard time staying on his feet after contact, even through arm and ankle tackles.
New York will feel more comfortable keeping a player with a track record in Torain and a younger player like Cox, who appears to have more upside.
This cut is the easiest of the five discussed. While Scott played in 15 games over two seasons, he had low expectations entering the league as a late-round pick. In addition, his poor preseason performance won’t have the Giants feeling like the 25-year-old will come back to haunt them by playing well for another team.
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The Giants have excellent depth at the defensive end position with four players—Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Damontre Moore—all locks to make the team.
Since they will likely carry only five defensive ends, that leaves just one spot to fight over for Justin Trattou, Adrian Tracy and Adewale Ojomo among those with NFL-caliber talent.
Matt Broha is the other player in consideration. His performance, however, has fallen off considerably this preseason after a strong 2012 preseason that saw him get three-and-a-half sacks. He hasn’t taken the signal-caller down once in three preseason games this year and only has one quarterback hit along with one quarterback hurry despite playing a robust 83 snaps.
Besides Broha, Trattou will be a casualty of New York’s deep stable of edge defensive linemen.
Trattou has actually played well in game action this preseason with two sacks. The coaching staff will be fine in parting ways with him, though, because he is a one-dimensional player. He has good speed off the edge, but that is about it.
Trattou is not particularly strong at only 255 pounds and lacks refined pass-rush skills. His speed alone allows him to be successful against lesser talent in the preseason, but he’ll struggle with his limited repertoire against starters in regular season games.
Trattou is a tougher cut than Scott because he has actually had a good preseason. It’s hard to tell a player who has performed well that it just wasn’t good enough to make the team.
Trattou was an undrafted free agent in 2011, though, so he carried no expectations in his two seasons with Big Blue. To be blunt, but truthful, the organization isn’t surprised this day has come for a player who barely made it into the NFL in the first place.
Adrian Tracy will be the other defensive end to not make New York's 53-man roster, allowing Adewale Ojomo to secure a spot.
Tracy’s only strength, like Trattou, is his speed. He is even lighter at 245 pounds and often gets eaten up by tackles if his first step is not successful. He also has had a ho-hum preseason with a 0.3 Pro Football Focus rating (subscription required) in 84 snaps.
Ojomo, on the other hand, has the physical tools to be a complete player. He is 270 pounds and is quick and powerful. He is also putting together his second consecutive strong preseason, amassing a 3.7 Pro Football Focus rating, including a 3.9 mark against the run. As a pass-rusher, he has one-and-a-half sacks and three quarterback hurries in only 55 snaps.
Saying goodbye to Tracy will be hard. The 26-year-old has been with the team for three years after being a sixth-round selection in the 2010 draft and played in 16 games last season. It is time for his tenure with the team to end, though, so room can be made for the more-talented, multi-dimensional Ojomo.
The Giants kept six wide receivers coming out of 2012 training camp, but they will not have the same luxury this August.
With the need to keep three quarterbacks instead of two due to the presence of rookie fourth-round pick Ryan Nassib, Big Blue must trim down at another offensive position. Wide receiver makes the most sense since they have two rock-solid starters in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks and good depth with Rueben Randle and Louis Murphy.
That leaves the fifth and final spot to be won by either Ramses Barden or Jerrel Jernigan. Based on the needs of the team and who has had the better preseason, Jernigan gets the nod.
The Giants only have one player with Jernigan’s skill set and that’s Victor Cruz. In terms of big, physical, receivers, Big Blue has both Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle.
Therefore, Barden’s assets are redundant. When you include the fact that Jernigan contributes on special teams while Barden doesn’t, Jernigan is clearly the more logical fit.
He has also been significantly better in preseason games. Jernigan has seven catches for 94 yards while Barden has caught five passes for a pedestrian 38 yards.
Parting ways with a player who was a third-round pick in the 2009 draft is not easy. Barden’s 6’6” frame held a lot of promise coming out of Cal Poly, but he was never able to meet expectations. He struggled to get separation and was oddly not a good red zone target despite his height. He does not have a single touchdown in his career among 29 total catches.
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Like defensive end, the defensive tackle position is deep and competitive.
The Giants will keep a maximum of five defensive ends. Cullen Jenkins, Linval Joseph and Johnathan Hankins should all plan on being in Dallas to play the Cowboys in Week 1. With Frank Okam gone and Markus Kuhn soon to follow due to his inability to get on the field, that leaves a battle between Marvin Austin, Mike Patterson and Shaun Rogers for the two remainingspots.
Austin rolls snake eyes here, mainly because his competitors have been better stopping the run in preseason games. Rogers has a 4.6 Pro Football Focus rating against the run while Patterson isn’t far behind with a 3.6 mark. On the flip side, Austin’s rating against opposing rushing attacks is only -0.8.
One of Big Blue’s goals this past offseason was to be stronger in the trenches. A big reason for the popularity of this mantra was that the Giants were awful in stopping the run last year, allowing 129.1 yards per game on 4.6 yards per carry.
It stands to reason then that head coach Tom Coughlin and company are going to look more favorably on good run-stoppers in choosing among relatively evenly matched players.
Austin is the toughest cut New York will have to make this preseason. A lot was expected of the 24-year-old when he was chosen in the middle of the second round in the 2011 draft. However, he has failed miserably to live up to his draft position, managing only eight tackles in his time with the Giants. His main problem has been injuries, but he is now the healthiest he has ever been in his NFL career, and he has still failed to impress.
Giving up on a young, promising player after only two years is difficult, but it is clear that Austin does not have a place on this team.