NY Giants Preseason: Week 4 Stock Report
With the first round of roster cuts due to happen by 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, it’s time for an update on the New York Giants' stock report.
This report is based on the progress, or lack thereof, made by the players selected. It also precedes my first post-training camp attempt at forecasting the initial 53-man roster.
Who’s turning heads? Who’s turning the coaches off? Read on to find out.
Stock Up: QB Ryan Nassib
After a slow start this summer, the light switch finally went on for quarterback Ryan Nassib, who each week has gotten better and better in Ben McAdoo’s offense.
In addition, 8.3 percent of his passes have gone for touchdowns, one of which being a 73-yard bomb to receiver Corey Washington.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Nassib, who sewed up the backup job last week against the New York Jets, is how comfortable he’s looked when he’s had to go on the run.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Nassib has completed 15 of 22 pass attempts for 190 yards when under pressure by using his legs to buy time to find an open receiver. That’s an impressive 68.2 completion percentage.
In the preseason finale, Nassib will finally get a chance to work with most of the starting unit, as head coach Tom Coughlin on Monday told reporters that starter Eli Manning will only see about 15-18 snaps.
It will be interesting to see how well Nassib performs with the first string.
Stock Down: CB Charles James II
Cornerback Charles James II is the kind of player you want to toot for—an underdog type whose young life has been all about beating the odds.
However, the young man who is in his second summer camp with the Giants has not been consistent this summer as both a cornerback and on special teams.
Let’s start with his defensive play, where, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he has a minus-2.7 overall rating.
James has allowed eight of 12 passes thrown at him to be completed for 94 yards, 49 of which have come after the catch, and one touchdown for a 118.2 NFL rating—not good.
He hasn’t been that much better on special teams either, where he has a minus-2.1 grade, per PFF, thanks in part to two missed tackles on coverage.
James’ chances of sticking will come down to how many corners the Giants keep. Currently, that number is projected to be six, which will probably help his chances.
If he does stick, though, he’s going to need to be much better than he was last week.
Stock Up: OT Rogers Gaines
If you haven’t heard the name Rogers Gaines before, it’s about time you did.
This first-year offensive tackle out of Tennessee State has been a quiet, yet solid, contributor as part of the third-team offense.
Primarily lining up at right tackle, Gaines has been consistent and quick to set up on the pass block to where he rarely has needed help on his side. He also has shown himself to have good balance and power on the run block, where against the Jets, he helped to push the pile.
At 6’6”, 334 pounds, Gaines has steadily improved from the first preseason game, where, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he finished with a minus-1.6 overall grade to his most recent grade of 2.7.
He’s given up just one hurry, that in the second game against Pittsburgh, and he currently is PFF’s highest-graded Giants offensive lineman with a 3.6 mark, which just edges out Justin Pugh’s 3.2 grade.
With James Brewer far from being a lock and Charles Brown dealing with a shoulder injury, Gaines just might quietly slide onto the initial 53-man roster as a backup tackle if he can close out the preseason with another strong showing.
Stock Down: OL James Brewer
Normally an injury isn’t enough to drop a guy’s stock, but when that same guy has a golden opportunity to secure a roster spot and just doesn’t deliver, that’s a problem.
That’s the situation that James Brewer, a four-year veteran, finds himself in. He had a chance to secure the starting left guard spot last year, but instead he turned in an average, error-filled showing that prompted the team to bring in Geoff Schwartz as a free agent.
Now that Schwartz is potentially looking at missing a significant amount of time due to a toe injury suffered in last week’s game against the Jets—Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reported that Schwartz could miss the entire 2014 season—the Giants' depth at guard is suddenly very thin.
Brewer’s sitting on the side with a back ailment. That, along with his mediocre play—per Pro Football Focus, his overall grade against the Jets was a minus-1.0—will likely make his case for a roster spot more of an uphill battle.
Stock Up: WR Corey Washington
So how good has receiver Corey Washington really been?
Besides leading the Giants in receiving touchdowns with four—in fact, that total leads both the running backs and receivers—Washington is the highest-graded Giants receiver, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required) with a 3.7 mark.
The Giants’ tallest receiver also, per PFF, has the highest pass-reception percentage (81.8) of the Giants' receivers who have taken at least 50 snaps and has caught a touchdown in each of the Giants' four preseason games so far.
The only thing that has been missing from Washington’s summer is a chance to show what he can do against the opponents’ first- and second-string teams. That opportunity might come this week, however.
Stock Down: WR Odell Beckham Jr.
The frustration was very hard to miss in head coach Tom Coughlin’s voice.
"I would like the next time someone asks me that to have him out here practicing, so I don't have to answer it. You know as much as I do. You are out here watching him every day, too," he said.
"That's all I can tell you. I would like to see the young man practice before he got into the regular season. That would certainly be a good thing."
The “young man” Coughlin is referring to is first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr., who after finally getting back on the field last week, tweaked his hamstring again and hasn’t been heard from since.
Time is running out for the rookie, who in a statement made on August 20 (via the team’s web site), didn’t classify his latest stint on the sideline as a setback.
We have progressively built up my workload. I was sore this morning, and I didn’t work today because we didn’t want a setback, and I don’t consider this a setback. I see it as another step in getting back to full strength.”
The problem is that every day Beckham misses is indeed a setback, as if you're not moving forward, you're either stuck in neutral or moving backward.
As Coughlin has often said, the classroom work is only half of the battle; the practice reps are just as important as anything if a player is going to get better at his craft. Beckham's inability to practice, which goes back to the spring, is making his chances of contributing as a rookie appear dimmer and dimmer.
Stock Up: WR Preston Parker
With Trindon Holliday unlikely to make the roster—he’s missed much too much time this summer—the Giants turned their attention to finding another viable option for a punt returner and for a bottom-end receiver.
That option appears to be Preston Parker, a four-year pro who initially was thought to be camp fodder coming in. Thanks to the injuries at receiver—Holliday, Marcus Harris and first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr.—the Giants are likely to keep six receivers.
Parker, who is currently averaging 7.3 yards per return, could very well be one of those projected six. He has shown himself to have good vision and has done a nice job with making the first man miss.
With better blocking in front of him and a continued emphasis placed on ball security—he has six career fumbles as a punt returner—the Giants might just have themselves something with Parker.
Stock Down: WR/PR Trindon Holliday
Trindon Holliday looked so promising back in the spring, when he was dazzling onlookers with his performance as an outside receiver.
However, a summer-long hamstring injury has limited his practice opportunities and has kept him from appearing in any games.
That, along with the emergence of Preston Parker as the Giants' likely punt returner likely means that Holliday will soon be looking to catch on elsewhere.