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Giants vs. Browns: 10 things to watch for

Posted Aug 20, 2017

10 storylines to follow as the Giants take on the Browns Monday night:



1. THREE GAMES IN 11 DAYS

The Giants are in the dog days of summer now. After officially breaking training camp on Tuesday, players returned to a mock game week leading into Monday night’s second preseason outing, against the Browns in Cleveland. That kicks off a stretch of three games in 11 days. After playing the Browns, the Giants “host” the Jets on Saturday and wrap up in New England the following Thursday. The 53-man roster will be set on Sept. 2, eight days before the season opener in Dallas.

2. PLAYING TIME

Quarterback Eli Manning and the starters are expected to get a “good chunk” of playing time into the second quarter against the Browns. Manning -- along with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. -- did not appear in the preseason opener. Veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall played only one series. “We’ll take a look at it as it goes,” coach Ben McAdoo said of how much playing time the players will receive.

3. INJURY REPORT

Linebacker Keenan Robinson is back in the concussion protocol. Cornerback Eli Apple, who missed time this week with a bruised ankle, is questionable to play in Cleveland. McAdoo also said it looks like wide receivers Darius Powe and Dwayne Harris will not play.  


4. QB ROTATION

Josh Johnson and Geno Smith have been alternating all summer in the competition to be Manning’s backup. While McAdoo did not share who will take the field after Manning on Monday night, Johnson got the nod last week vs. Pittsburgh and completed 50 percent of his passes for 31 yards while being sacked three times. Smith went 10 of 16 for 114 yards with one interception and was also sacked three times. Meanwhile, rookie third-round pick Davis Webb has continued to take more reps in practice. McAdoo said he would like to get all four quarterbacks in the game.

5. MOVING PIECES

Because of injuries, there are some moving pieces right now at linebacker. Calvin Munson and Curtis Grant stepped up in their places at practice and have impressed defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Meanwhile, B.J. Goodson is getting a chance to be a three-down player at middle linebacker, both in base and sub packages.

6. ROOKIE SHOWCASE

Beginning with the No. 1 overall selection of Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, the Browns had three picks in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The other two were New Jersey natives Jabrill Peppers, a jack of all trades from East Orange, and David Njoku, a tight end from Cedar Grove.

Garrett wanted to send a message to the league in his first preseason game and recorded a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit, while Peppers had a 27-yard kickoff return as well as a 13-yard punt return. Njoku missed the first game with a back injury but is expected to make his debut against the Giants. Meanwhile, quarterback DeShone Kizer, the Browns’ second-round pick, is working with the second team, while Brock Osweiler is set to start on Monday night.


7. EVAN, DALVIN MAKING STRIDES

The Giants are excited about their rookies, too. Tight end Evan Engram and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, the top two picks, are expected to play major roles in their rookie seasons. Engram caught one pass for 11 yards on two targets in his debut and has come on strong at practice, especially in the red zone. Meanwhile, Tomlinson, who had four tackles, made a major jump from last week to this week.

“He’s played a little bit more violent,” Spags said. “I think he’s getting a little more comfortable with the guys he’s playing with. I’m really encouraged by him.”

8. PERKINS AND THE RUNNING BACKS

Shaun Draughn passed his physical this week and was activated off the physically unable to perform list, where he had been all training camp with an ankle injury. He returned to a running backs room where Paul Perkins has been the starter.  The head coach was asked this week if that has loosened at all.

“I’m considering them all for the job,” McAdoo said. “Whoever plays the best is going to get the ball.”

McAdoo added: “[Perkins is] out there first. By no means have I lost confidence in Paul Perkins. I have a lot of trust and confidence in him. He’s a young player who is working hard to get better and has a lot of value for us. By no means have I lost confidence in Paul Perkins. I have a lot of trust and confidence in him. He’s a young player who is working hard to get better and has a lot of value for us.”

9. ROSAS VS. NUGENT, PART II

The first preseason game turned into a kick-off between Aldrick Rosas, who has never played in a regular-season game, and 14-year veteran Mike Nugent, who was signed after training camp was already underway. Rosas rose to the occasion and made both of his attempts, from 52 and 27 yards. He went kick for kick with Nugent, who was also perfect from 45 and 30 yards.

10. GOOD TO GREAT

Despite ultimately losing their first preseason game against Pittsburgh, the Giants could not have started much better from a defensive standpoint. With most of the starters on the field, the defense forced a three-and-out on the Steelers’ first two possessions. On the next two, cornerback Valentino Blake and 6-foot-8 defensive end Devin Taylor grabbed interceptions. Meanwhile, safety Landon Collins was already in All-Pro form and had five tackles, including one for loss, in limited snaps.  

“Go good to great on defense. Offense, be more productive.” McAdoo said about what he is looking to get out of the upcoming game. “We are going to have everybody in the mix there and special teams, continue to improve.”