5 New York Giants Who Helped Themselves This Summer
With the first round of roster cuts fast approaching—teams will need to reduce their training camp rosters from 90 to 75 on Wednesday, Aug. 27—players will have one last opportunity to convince their respective coaching staffs of their worthiness for a spot on the 53-man roster.
Here’s a look at five members of the New York Giants who, coming into the summer, were thought to be nothing more than camp fodder but who have actually turned out to be pleasant surprises and have made strong cases to survive the first roster cuts—and possibly beyond.
WR Corey Washington
At 6’4” tall, Corey Washington stands as a giant among the Giants receivers, offering a nice target, reliable hands and a sound understanding of where he’s supposed to be and when he’s supposed to be there.
As a result, he’s the team leader this preseason in receiving yards (116) as well as the only receiver, tight end or running back to have multiple touchdowns—he has three, all game-winners.
A big reason for Washington’s increased reps has been the injuries to first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. and Trindon Holliday, both of whom have dealt with hamstring issues during camp. Veteran Mario Manningham, who is trying to regain his old form after struggling through a knee injury, has fallen short of his goal.
Washington is certainly no dummy. After failing to latch on with the Arizona Cardinals, he understands that you might get only only chance with a team to make a positive impression.
“I planned on coming out here and playing special teams and New York didn’t have that big wide receiver on the depth chart,” he told reporters. “My main focus is making the 53-man roster and helping Victor Cruz and the other guys have a great receiver corps.”
The amazing thing with Washington, who has gone up against the first-team defense at times and who this week has taken snaps with the starting offense, is that he’s managed to remain humble throughout the process thanks to advice he received from Cruz.
“He just told me to take it day by day, one day at a time. Don’t worry about what’s going on in the outside world; just focus on me. Work every day, come out and understand the playbook. Just work hard,” he said.
Working hard describes Washington in a nutshell and this ethic is why he’s more than likely to survive this upcoming first round of roster cuts.
WR Preston Parker
If a player is going to make a roster as a fourth, fifth or sixth receiver, usually the expectations are that he’ll have to contribute on special teams.
That’s exactly the approach that receiver Preston Parker, a 6’0”, 200-pound four-year veteran has embraced.
Parker has been the Giants’ primary punt returner this season, and he’s averaging 8.0 yards per return with a long of 15 yards.
While that average appears to be pedestrian, it at least approaches the production of Rueben Randle—who now moves up to the No. 2 receiver on the team’s depth chart—who finished with an 8.2 average last season.
For as good as Parker has looked so far, it needs to be mentioned that in 2011 as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he had six fumbles on punt returns.
“He has experience in the league,” Giants special teams coordinator Tom Quinn told reporters earlier this month. “He’s kind of picking up. He’s got to focus on ball security, which is his big thing.”
So far, so good in that regard, which is why Parker might just make it past the first cut.
TE Kellen Davis
With the Giant’s tight end situation still a work in progress, one man who appears to be well on his way toward making the team is seven-year veteran Kellen Davis.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Davis is the only one of the Giants five tight ends to have a positive overall score (2.5) and a solid run-blocking score (1.7).
That should come as no surprise. Davis, who spent the first five years of his career with the Chicago Bears before hopping over to the Seattle Seahawks last year, is an impressive physical specimen at 6’7”, 265 pounds who, for whatever the reason, hasn’t been able to put everything together just yet.
He’s played in 95 games and has career receiving numbers of 50 receptions, 561 yards and 12 touchdowns. His former coach, Lovie Smith, told ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson in 2012 that Davis is the type of tight end who can be a featured player in an offense.
I think if you want to feature Kellen Davis you can do that. Great size, great in-line blocker, skilled enough of an athlete to be able to move outside and do some things. I really like him.
The Giants coaches seem to like him as well, which is why Davis will more than likely be the in-line tight end for the team this year.
WR Marcus Harris
Receiver Marcus “Soup” Harris is right behind Corey Washington as being the most productive of the Giants receivers this preseason.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Harris, who currently leads the team in receptions this preseason with eight, has graded out as a 2.2 overall. He also leads the receivers who have at least five receptions this preseason in yards after the catch with an average of 4.9.
Because of the injuries in front of him, Harris has had chances to work with the starting unit, and he has not disappointed.
He has done a nice job of fighting off the jam and has been credited by PFF with having made three would-be tacklers miss him in the open field.
The most frequently targeted Giants receiver this summer, Harris has caught eight of 12 passes thrown his way (66.7 percent), reinforcing the idea that he is a sure-handed wideout who can help move the chains.
DT Kelcy Quarles
Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles is an undrafted free agent who came into Giants camp with a lot to prove.
A productive college player at South Carolina, Quarles finished his collegiate career with 105 tackles (66 solo) with 13.0 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss in and eight quarterback pressures.
However, NFL Draft Scout noted that Quarles was often able to take advantage of the single-coverage he received because he played on the same defensive line as Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
So how has life been for Quarles now that he’s not lining up on a line that features Clowney?
His Pro Football focus (subscription required) grade isn’t very good—he’s at a minus-3.3 overall after taking 36 snaps—but that seems to be as much a result of the three penalties he drew last week (two of which might have been the product of rookie overzealousness) as poor play.
However, he’s also made some plays late in the game, such helping to force a fumble last week against the Indianapolis Colts.
Plays like that might just earn him a chance to stick around past the initial cut, though ultimately he’s likely more of a practice squad candidate.