Making Calls on the New York Giants' Hardest Remaining Cuts

Patricia Traina@Patricia_TrainaFeatured Columnist IVAugust 17, 2015

Making Calls on the New York Giants' Hardest Remaining Cuts

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Ask any NFL head coach what he dislikes most about his job and chances are he will tell you that it is having to tell any one of several dozen training camp hopefuls that they just aren’t good enough for the initial 53-man roster.

    Well the soon-to-be 69-year-old Tom Coughlin, head coach of the New York Giants, who has been at this for a long time, will soon find himself again in that position, and some of his decisions are going to be beyond difficult, as is usually the case.

    Injuries, player performance and player fits will all be considered, as will needs at certain units (hello, offensive line?). Toss into the equation that certain young players are making the decisions even more difficult by their play, and it would be no wonder if Coughlin has a few sleepless nights leading up to making some of those final decisions.

    Let’s look at five young players who are really making a strong case to be included on the roster and whether they actually have a realistic chance of doing so.

RB Orleans Darkwa

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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    In an ideal situation, the Giants would keep four running backs and a fullback on their roster, just as they did last season.

    It’s actually hard to fathom the Giants not doing so, considering the pounding the players take at the position. Starter Rashad Jennings has yet to make it through a 16-game season in his career, while Shane Vereen has only accomplished that feat one time, in 2015.

    But the Giants might have to go without their usual four at this position. Injuries in the defensive backfield may force them to steal from another spot, such as running back.

    That could potentially be bad news for running back Orleans Darkwa, who, after one week, leads the Giants in rushing and has consistently been a solid player at the position.

    While it’s believed that Darkwa would be eligible for the practice squad, if he continues to put a solid showing on tape, he might just not last very long on the waiver wire if he does indeed not make the final cut.

    Prediction: Makes the Cut

TE Daniel Fells

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Daniel Fells is the closest thing that the Giants have to a complete tight end—a guy who can run block and be effective in the receiving game and who was the best graded tight end on the Giants roster last year, per Pro Football Focus.

    So why then is he on the bubble? Two reasons.

    First, Jerome Cunningham, a first-year player out of Southern Connecticut, has been impressive. Cunningham is a younger and faster version of Fells as a receiver and a highlight machine waiting to happen.

    While Cunningham hasn’t shown himself yet to have Fells’ ability as a blocker, what the youngster has shown is an ability to get in the way of a defender just long enough to slow him down—a maneuver that has been quite effective.

    The second reason why Fells is probably on the bubble is the presence of Adrien Robinson, the team’s 2012 fourth-round draft pick who, to date, has been a disappointment.

    General manager Jerry Reese has admitted to reporters in the past that the team is willing to give a draft pick every chance to fail before pushing him out the door.

    Well, with Robinson showing signs of being a solid blocker at the end of last season, chances are that he isn’t going to be sent packing quite so soon. Not if the front office believes that he has a chance to continue in his development.

    Since it’s highly unlikely that the team will keep four tight ends—they won’t be able to afford that many—Fells appears to be the odd man out in the equation, even if he shouldn’t be. 

    Prediction: Doesn't Make the Cut

WR Corey Washington

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    Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

    Last summer, receiver Corey Washington burst onto the scene with his big-play making ability, which instantly made him a fan favorite among those who believed that the 6’4”, 214-pound Washington could be the next Victor Cruz.

    Washington’s rookie season, however, didn’t quite go according to plan. He apparently didn’t earn practice reps by doing the little things, particularly special teams, which head coach Tom Coughlin told reporters is a requirement for players who are at the bottom of the depth chart at their respective positions.

    This year, Washington is back with a much-improved attitude and has been drawing praise from the coaching staff about his approach to his job.

    The results, however, haven’t always been there in terms of consistency, as for every play Washington makes, he seems to miss one or two in between.

    With the Giants having added receiver Geremy Davis via the draft and veteran James Jones shortly after camp, there is a very good chance that only one of the Davis, Jones and Washington trio will be added. The roster projects to carry six receivers, four of whom will be Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle and Dwayne Harris.

    As always, it will come down to special teams, thus far the Achilles heel for Washington. In what time is left in the preseason, he will need to start playing consistently in order to ensure that he is not among the hardest cuts that Tom Coughlin will have to make next month.

    Prediction: Doesn't Make the Cut

S Cooper Taylor

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    The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

    It’s never a good thing when a player starts out in the spring with the starting unit and then gradually finds himself sliding down the depth chart.

    That is the scenario for safety Cooper Taylor, who is trying to stay on the field after two injury-filled seasons.

    The Giants, who have been struggling at the safety position between performance and health, are hoping that Landon Collins heals up quickly so that they only have to keep four at the position.

    If that is the case, then the four project to be newcomer Brandon Meriweather, rookie Landon Collins, Nat Berhe and Bennett Jackson.

    Even if Collins and/or Berhe aren’t healthy and ready to go by opening day, the Giants could look at Josh Gordy to be that swingman at corner and safety.

    Taylor, at 6’4”, 228 pounds, has wonderful size for the position—size that sometimes makes one wonder if he might be better off playing linebacker than safety.

    Unfortunately, given all the time he has missed because of injury, Taylor appears to be so far behind the eight ball that his opportunity might very well have passed him by.

    Prediction: Doesn't Make the Cut

CB Trevin Wade

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    The Giants cornerback spot isn’t getting as much press as it should, but it probably deserves it because of the injury situation it has experienced.

    Starters Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have both been fighting groins, though Amukamara’s is apparently the more serious of the two, given that he’s missed practice time and Rodgers-Cromartie has not.

    Jayron Hosley is out indefinitely after suffering a head injury; he is currently going through the NFL’s concussion protocol.

    Lastly, Trumaine McBride is trying to work through a hamstring strain.

    So where does that leave the depth situation? Well, right now, the projection is that the Giants will keep five cornerbacks, though remember Bennett Jackson, a safety, can probably be the swingman at corner, as well, if the injury situation doesn’t improve.

    That means that Amukamara and Rodgers-Cromartie will likely be the starters, assuming Amukamara recovers from his injury.

    McBride and Hosley are projected to be the depth, while the fifth spot will come down to Chandler Fenner, who has shown really nothing this camp, and Trevin Wade, who has shown a few things that has caused defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to take notice.

    “Yeah, I’m glad you brought Trevin up; he’s done a nice job,” Spagnuolo said. “When a guy steps up, he’s around the ball, he’s making plays—he made a big one at the end, I think you have to recognize that.

    “At first I don’t think anybody really knew where he was, as a player. But it’s good to see him; I’d like to see more guys do that.”

    That’s probably why Wade is going to stick around at the expense of Fenner and Mike Harris.

    Prediction: Makes the Cut

    Patricia Traina covers the Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced.

    Follow @Patricia_Traina.

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