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Fact or Fiction: Who has impressed this preseason?

Posted Aug 25, 2017

The Giants.com staff debates standouts from the preseason-to-date:


Linebacker B.J. Goodson has been the most impressive defensive player this preseason.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - Goodson has been good, and perhaps the most improved player on defense, but he has not been the most impressive player on defense. Landon Collins has been lights out during preseason games, and Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul both looked unblockable in the second preseason game. Goodson has been good, but not as good as some of the stars on defense.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - He’s certainly been the breakout player of the summer, but the most impressive defender has been Olivier Vernon. Just look at the play he made in coverage against the Browns that had everyone still talking about it two days later. From the right defensive end spot, he trailed rookie tight end David Njoku, a fellow Miami product and a first-round pick who ran a 4.64 40-yard dash at the combine, 35 yards downfield all the way to the opposite sideline and broke up the pass. Oh, and Vernon also tipped the pass that Jason Pierre-Paul intercepted earlier in the game. Oh, and he also had a half-sack.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - Forget the preseason.  You could easily argue B.J. Goodson was the most impressive defensive player during training camp as well.  When you consider his production in the preseason (eight tackles, team-high two sacks) and the fact he’s taking on an extremely challenging role for a second-year player who only had 13 defensive snaps as a rookie, Goodson has been by far the standout on defense.  His instincts during preseason games have been on point, and that’s led to both key stops against the run and opportunities to pressure the opposing quarterbacks.  Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said Goodson has all the characteristics of a middle linebacker, in both demeanor and physicality, and the rest of the team has taken notice.

Tight end Evan Engram has been the most impressive offensive player this preseason.


JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - Engram might be the best player among rookies, but he has not been the most impressive player this preseason. It would be hard for me to argue that Engram has been more impressive than Odell Beckham Jr., even with his ankle injury. I’m not willing to give a rookie this accolade.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - The offense has yet to find the end zone, so there hasn’t really been a wow factor on that side of the ball in games. But hey, that’s what the preseason is for. I’ll still go with the first-round pick on this just because of his flashes and the potential for him to be a major threat in the years to come. He’s a mismatch player who can line up anywhere on the field and work the seam.  

LANCE MEDOW: Fact -Similar to B.J. Goodson, you can easily argue Evan Engram was also the most impressive offensive player during training camp and that has translated to the preseason.  With that being said, through two games, the offense has struggled to find consistency so, in my opinion, Engram essentially deserves this label by default.  He’s tied for the team lead with four receptions, highlighted by three catches for 32 yards against the Browns.  Engram has had a knack for finding openings in the middle of the field, and if that continues, he could serve as a nice option for Eli Manning to help move the chains

Defensive line has the biggest competition in the final week before the roster is set.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - The Giants are going to have some very tough decisions to make at the end of the defensive line depth chart. Kerry Wynn has been a solid role player in the league. Romeo Okwara showed promise last year. Devin Taylor has had more success than any of them as a starter with the Lions. Avery Moss is a promising fifth-round pick. Third-round pick Owa Odighizuwa is still here. Jordan Williams has flashed when he has been in there. Jay Bromley may be ready to come into his own. Robert Thomas has been given shots with the ones. Dalvin Tomlinson is an impressive second-round pick. Some combination of this group will join Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Damon “Snacks” Harrison but not all of them. The Giants will have some tough decisions to make.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - Mostly for injury reasons, I’m going with the linebackers, where there are some moving pieces right now. Keenan Robinson and Mark Herzlich have missed time while J.T. Thomas is working back from his torn ACL, which he suffered in the 2016 opener in Dallas. That has opened up the opportunity for Goodson to prove himself as a three-down linebacker who can play in sub packages. Meanwhile, guys like Calvin Munson have benefitted from the bump up. The undrafted rookie from San Diego State has been near the top of the tackles list in the first two preseason games. 

LANCE MEDOW: Fact -It’s a fact mainly because it’s also one of the few positions that has actually stayed healthy, for the most part, during training camp and the preseason.  Not only is a starting job up for grabs on the defensive line but also several spots on the depth chart.  Jay Bromley, Robert Thomas and Dalvin Tomlinson are all battling to replace Johnathan Hankins and then Kerry Wynn, Romeo Okwara, Avery Moss, Devin Taylor and Owa Odighizuwa are all in the mix for backup roles.  That’s eight names and we haven’t even mentioned JPP and Olivier Vernon.  I wouldn’t overlook the tight end position because there’s going to be a numbers game there as well, especially if they only keep three.

Wide Receiver Roger Lewis is the player to watch on Saturday against the Jets.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -With all the injuries at wide receiver (Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Tavarres King, Dwayne Harris), Roger Lewis Jr. could get a full three quarters of action with most of the starters on offense. It will be a great chance for him to earn a spot on the roster as one of the last wide receivers on the roster. He has a ton of talent and that needs to transfer to production.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - If practice is any indicator, Lewis could be in line for a big night. With a handful of his fellow receivers banged up, Lewis has been the guy this week. He and Eli Manning have connected on a handful of long throws at practice. Keep an eye on him. 

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -With all the injuries to the wide receiver corps, Roger Lewis will likely see plenty of reps with the first team Saturday night, but given he was on the team last season, I don’t think he’s the key player to watch.  At wide receiver, I would lean more toward Travis Rudolph, but I think the player that tops the list is cornerback Donte Deayon.  With Michael Hunter (concussion) and Valentino Blake (exempt list) out, Deayon can’t ask for a better opportunity as he looks to make the roster, especially since the fourth corner job is completely up for grabs.  Given the injuries at linebacker, I would also watch Calvin Munson and Curtis Grant.