Stock Up, Stock Down After New York Giants' 2nd Preseason Game
It's only preseason and there is no game-planning involved, but on a larger scale this Giants offense doesn't look any more improved than it did last year. If you recall, New York struggled to score touchdowns in the preseason, as it has done so far this year. It has also struggled to run the ball again despite changing everything except the offensive line.
Believe it or not, there were a few bright spots in the game. Let's run down just a few of those players who stood out for better or worse.
Stock Up: LB B.J. Goodson
Second-year linebacker B.J. Goodson has had a lot thrown at him considering he only played 13 defensive snaps last year as a rookie.
To his credit, he has delivered—not just in the base defense but also in the nickel.
The 24-year-old finished as the team leader in tackles with seven. He also recorded a sack for minus-10 yards, one tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit while holding his own when asked to cover a tight end.
It's been a while since the Giants had a middle linebacker who was worthy of being on the field for every down. In Goodson, they might have found that guy.
Stock Down: WR Sterling Shepard
In his first preseason game action of the year—he missed the opener against the Steelers—slot receiver Sterling Shepard came up with three receptions (out of five targets) for just nine yards and a long of five yards. One of his incomplete-pass targets was a dropped ball.
Poor production aside, Shepard also allowed the ball to be ripped out of his grasp by Jason McCourty. That turnover set the stage for a one-yard touchdown run by Browns quarterback DeShon Kizer to give his team a 7-3 lead, from which they never looked back.
The Giants have to get better production out of their slot receiver moving forward.
Stock Up: DE Olivier Vernon
All those extra wind sprints that defensive end Olivier Vernon voluntarily runs during practice sure paid off this week when he dashed across the field to take down tight end David Njoku in coverage. That play was just one of his two passes defensed in the game.
He was only credited for one sack, but he split a sack with teammate Jason Pierre-Paul and tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage that Pierre-Paul picked off to snuff out a Browns drive.
There's little doubt Vernon is ready for the start of the season after seeing him in this week's action.
Stock Down: Interior Offensive Line
You can sit there and blame left tackle Ereck Flowers all you want for the Giants run-game struggles—20 carries for 65 yards to be exact—or the two sacks allowed (one each to Eli Manning and Geno Smith).
Upon further review, though, the problems seem to originate along the interior of the offensive line, a trio consisting of left guard Justin Pugh, center Weston Richburg and right guard John Jerry.
That trio has struggled to get a consistent push in the run-blocking game, and it looked like it was Jerry who failed to pick up a stunt by the Browns defensive line in which a defender came free and hit Manning.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said it best earlier this week: The Giants "will only go as far as their offensive line takes them."
Right now, that offensive line still seems to be having its share of trouble getting the job done, despite various members of the organization repeatedly saying it is getting better.
Stock Up: TE Evan Engram
When it came to the battle of the rookie tight ends—David Njoku of the Browns and Evan Engram of the Giants—there was no contest.
Njoku caught one of three pass targets for one yard. Meanwhile, Engram caught three of four targets for 32 yards, including a gorgeous 21-yard burst up the seam, something the Giants haven't seen often from a tight end in years.
Engram's 32 receiving yards were five yards shy of team leader Odell Beckham Jr.'s 37 this week. If he keeps working his way open and making those tough catches, it might not be too long before he starts leading the team in receiving yards.
Stock Down: RB Wayne Gallman
Rookie Wayne Gallman finished as the Giants' leading rusher this week with 22 yards on five carries.
On most of his runs, he showed good power and the ability to move the pile. So why is his stock down? Gallman, who had a dropped pass last week in practice, did so again in the game as a result of him not looking at the ball all the way in before taking off.
The 22-year-old also lost a fumble late in the game, a move that no doubt irked head coach Ben McAdoo considering he devotes the start of every practice to ball protection.
Gallman is a promising running back with potential, but if he can't be trusted to secure the ball, he's probably not going to get on the field often.
Patricia Traina covers the New York Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced.