5 NY Giants Who Have Earned More Playing Time in the Preseason
With training camp rosters swelling to 90 so that teams can get through drills and evaluate talent, it can take just a few days for players to begin separating themselves from the pack at their respective positions.
In this presentation, we look at some of the young veterans and/or unheralded rookies who have taken advantage of this opportunity to show the Giants coaches that they belong on an NFL playing field.
These are players who have had little to no work with the starting units but whose individual performances certainly warrant a look against better competition for the rest of the preseason.
Wide Receiver Corey Washington
With Marcus "Soup" Harris already having had a chance to work with the starters in practice, it's time for the Giants' leading receiver to get his chance.
That, of course, would be Corey Washington, the 6'4", 214-pound rookie out of Newberry who has been on the receiving end of the Giants' last two game-winning touchdowns.
Washington, whose 96 yards and two touchdown receptions lead the team's receivers and tight ends, brings a certain level of physicality to the offense that the Giants really haven't had from their receivers in recent years.
One of the most noticeable aspects of his game, in addition to his reliable hands and durability, is that he actively fights off the jam and uses his size downfield to shield the ball.
NFL quarterbacks typically like having big receivers to target in the passing game—Curtis Painter, who threw the latest game-winning touchdown pass to Washington, told reporters as much after the game on Saturday.
"He’s doing a great job. He’s been doing that in practice a lot," Painter told reporters after the game, via Michael Elsen of Giants.com. "He’s a big target, which makes it easy for quarterbacks."
If he makes the 53-man roster, Washington would likely be a fourth or fifth receiver who probably wouldn't get much in the way of game-day action unless there were injuries to the depth in front of him.
Still, given his performance in practice thus far, it can't hurt to see how he might fare against better competition in order to determine if he is indeed ready to play full time at the next level.
Offensive Lineman Weston Richburg
Second-round pick Weston Richburg was drafted by the Giants to eventually play center. However, with veteran J.D. Walton holding steady at that position, the coaches have been looking to play Richburg at either guard spot.
The transition hasn’t always been smooth, at least not according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), which has given the rookie a minus-2.7 overall grade through two preseason games and 70 snaps.
Richburg, remember, never really played guard when he was in college, so he is learning a new position.
The good news is that he is making steady progress as he looks to increase his versatility.
“It’s been good for me to kind of grow as an overall lineman and playing guard, setting up differently in the run blocking and in pass blocking then at center, having to snap the ball so that changes things up a bit," he told Inside Football.
“From a learning standpoint, it’s really helped being all over the board because it challenges me and requires me to do more than I would if I were just at center or at guard.”
His position coach, Pat Flaherty, told reporters earlier this camp that he’s been pleased with Richburg’s development thus far and thinks the sky might be the limit for the young man.
“If and when in fact Weston continues to develop, he’s going to be a good offensive lineman…but he’s got to get in there and grow into that position,” he said.
“There’s a sense of urgency about being able to grow into a position, and the only way you’re going to be able to do that is if you have an opportunity to continue to play and we all have gone through growing experiences that aren’t so good. You just have to learn from them.”
Defensive Tackle Jay Bromley
Although he was a high draft pick for the Giants, defensive tackle Jay Bromley came into camp generating the most questions about what he might be able to contribute to the defensive line rotation.
Those questions included inquires about his strength and technique.
It also didn’t help much that defensive line coach Robert Nunn, in the first week of camp, described the rookie out of Syracuse to reporters as being “real raw.”
“(He) really needs to work on his technique and he needs every rep he can get,” Nunn said at the time, via Michael Elsen of Giants.com. “But he’s very eager, has a great attitude, good personality (and) fits in the room. He’s off to a good start but he needs time.”
Since the pads have come on, Bromley has done a good job getting to the middle of most every scrum.
After two games and 48 snaps, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) has graded him with an impressive 4.5 overall mark, which includes a 4.4 as a pass-rusher, where he has one quarterback hit and four hurries.
Having received a few snaps already with the starters, Bromley has been aggressive in getting upfield.
He has done a nice job in controlling his gap and has fought his way forward to collapse the pocket on several occasions.
“I like where he is as far as his eagerness and he is very aware, on top of everything, has picked up on everything, done an outstanding job picking up the defense,” Nunn said. “He’s a really exciting prospect.
While Bromley hasn’t been as proficient against the run—that part of the game will take some time—but in the few opportunities he did get, he showed himself to have the size and strength to battle.
He will need to work on consistent leverage, but with time and hopefully a few more snaps, perhaps against the starters, that will start to fall into place for him.
Running Back Kendall Gaskins
Don’t look now, but running back Kendall Gaskins, a first-year player out of the University of Richmond, appears to be turning some heads in Giants camp.
Based on the running back rotation in Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 6’1”, 238-pound Gaskins is currently the third man on the running back totem pole, behind starter Rashad Jennings and fourth-round draft pick Andre Williams.
He’s also jumped ahead of last year’s seventh-round pick, Michael Cox.
Gaskins has certainly made the most of his opportunities, showing an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield—he has three receptions for 19 yards—as well as run the ball. His 15 carries for 51 yards has yielded a respectable 3.4 yards per carry.
Want more to like about Gaskins? He has experience playing fullback and could potentially serve as a backup at that position.
In short, Gaskins’ skill set is identical to what Peyton Hillis brings to the table. However, Gaskins is younger, faster and far more explosive than Hillis, which no doubt is appealing to the coaches.
Then there is the durability issue.
While every injury is different, Hillis has had some durability issues since being signed by the Giants in-season last year, including a concussion suffered in 2013 and, most recently, an ankle injury that currently has him sidelined.
Gaskins? Thus far, his only injury has been to his hand—on the same night that Hillis suffered his ankle sprain, Gaskins jammed his thumb.
However, Gaskins took the old-fashioned approach. He came out after his series was over, had his hand re-taped and went back to work.
“I have a bunch of fingers,” he told Tom Rock of Newsday. “I may only have one opportunity.”
Defensive End Damontre Moore
The biggest thing that people sometimes forget when they think about second-year defensive end Damontre Moore is that he came into the NFL at a very, very young age.
Moore was only 20 years old when he was drafted, which, to put into perspective, is under the legal drinking age in New Jersey and is well under the required age to rent a car without having to pay all those extra fees.
The point being is that the man who bears the moniker “DaMonsta” for his ability to terrorize opposing quarterbacks had some growing up to do as a rookie.
The good news is that Moore, who was slowed down by a shoulder injury last year, is completely healthy now. While also still a very young 21, he’s seemingly matured way beyond his years in that he finally has a better understanding of what it takes to be a professional.
Thus far, Moore has six tackles (four solo), one quarterback sack and three tackles for no or negative yardage in 54 defensive snaps.
"I’ve been pleased with my performance but there’s always room for improvement," he told reporters. "I’ve done some things good and ... it’s translated onto the field. I’m happy with where it’s going, but I always want to get better."
There’s reason to be optimistic that Moore, who is still trying to develop his run-stopping skills, can develop into an overall defensive end.
Head coach Tom Coughlin told reporters two weeks ago that Moore has developed a relationship with Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan, who has been trying to help the youngster every chance he gets.
Art Stapleton of The Record reported that Strahan, who spoke to reporters prior to being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, shared with Moore little tricks to help him turn into a student of the game.
"How is the tackle’s hand? How are his feet? How is the stripe on his helmet when he’s going in certain directions?” Strahan said. “How’s the quarterback, does he do anything special before the ball is snapped to him? Does the center squeeze his off-hand before he snaps the ball?”
Moore is apparently taking that advice to heart, and it’s not going unnoticed by his coaches.
"He continues to grow every day and takes advantage of each opportunity he has to get better," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell told Stapleton.
Indeed. Against the Steelers, Moore had a see-saw showing, at times failing to react to the proper gap, while at others managing to successfully fill a hole to take away a cutback lane.
"At the end of the day, I’m going to go out there and play against the ones, twos, threes, whoever I’m playing against and just try to be the best person I could be," Moore said, adding that there's not much of a difference between first-team and second-team offensive tackles.
"I feel like if I do everything I can, everything will take care of itself. At the end of the day, we’ll see what happens."