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10 things to watch for vs. Steelers


Ten things to look out for when the Giants host the Steelers Friday night:


>Rookies primed for NFL debut
>5 players to watch vs. Steelers
>Backup QB competition moves to gameday
>Best of Training Camp practice
>Ben McAdoo previews preseason opener

For the first time since back-to-back wins over Dallas and Detroit in mid-December, the New York Giants are back at MetLife Stadium this Friday night for their preseason opener against Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. ET. (NBC 4 New York locally, NFL Network nationally). This is the 29th time the Giants and Steelers have met in the preseason, with the Big Blue leading, 15-13.

In 2016, Ben McAdoo became the fourth head coach in his first season with the team to make the playoffs; he joined Allie Sherman (1961), Dan Reeves (1993) and Jim Fassel (1997). The Giants went 7-1 at home for their best record in the seven-year history of MetLife Stadium.


With respect to how long starters will play, the McAdoo will "treat it very similar" to last year's preseason opener, when Eli Manning did not play. Odell Beckham Jr. was scheduled to take a few snaps, but after the start of the game was delayed an hour because of severe weather, McAdoo decided to keep the Pro Bowl receiver on the sideline.


Earlier this week, the Giants released their first unofficial depth chart of the 2017 season. Don't go crazy, though. The depth chart is just a starting point to filling out the 53-man roster, which will be finalized on Sept. 2. Because of a rule change, there will be only one roster cut-down this year. Previously, clubs first pared the roster from 90 to 75 players. Now they go straight from 90 to 53.

Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants take on the Steelers Friday night


Linebacker J.T. Thomas (tore his ACL in the 2016 regular season opener) and running back Shaun Draughn (ankle) have been on the active/physically unable to perform list since the beginning of training camp. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who rolled his ankle last week, continues to increase his workload and took live reps on Wednesday in the final full practice before the preseason begins. Linebacker Keenan Robinson (concussion protocol), defensive tackle Robert Thomas (soreness), linebacker Mark Herzlich (stinger), safety Ryan Murphy (lower body), and wide receivers Tavarres King (ankle) and Kevin Snead (lower body) have also missed time recently at camp.


From Justin Pugh to Odell Beckham Jr. to Eli Apple, the Giants' 2017 draft class has a lot to live up to. That starts with Evan Engram, the first tight end drafted by the Giants in the first round since Jeremy Shockey in 2002. Friday night will be his first time running out of the tunnel with the "NY" on his helmet, along with his five other classmates: defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, quarterback Davis Webb, running back Wayne Gallman, defensive end Avery Moss and offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty.


Eli Manning has three players competing to be his backup(s) this summer: Josh Johnson, Geno Smith and Webb. The third-round draft choice is a developmental project who has not taken many team reps during training camp, making it a two-man race between Johnson, who filled that role last season for Manning, and Smith, the former Jet. The two veterans have rotated between the second and third teams during practice, and they have four preseason games to decide who wins the job.


All-Pro safety Landon Collins received many compliments for his breakout campaign in 2016, but this summer is all about finding a complement. Darian Thompson, last year's third-round draft choice who was off to a promising start before injuries cut his rookie year short, is the leading candidate to start opposite Collins in one of the best secondaries in the league. Friday night will be his first game since Sept. 18 of last year.


The new man in charge of piloting the No. 2 scoring defense from a year ago has only 13 professional defensive snaps to his name. That player is B.J. Goodson, who took over the middle linebacker job this offseason after the Giants did not re-sign Kelvin Sheppard. Despite the inexperience, Goodson, last year's fourth-round pick from Clemson, has drawn praise from his coaches and teammates this summer for his physicality and ability to make the calls. A large part of the credit goes to Super Bowl XLII champion Antonio Pierce, who has been assisting the coaching staff while mentoring Goodson.


From left to right, Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, John Jerry and Bobby Hart returned as the starting five up front this offseason. Flowers and Hart, the Giants' two young tackles, stayed around the facility this winter and worked extensively on their conditioning, which we'll really start to see pay off in the coming weeks when they go against live opponents. Meanwhile, McAdoo likes the competition from the backups pushing for jobs, including D.J. Fluker, a former 11th overall draft choice, and undrafted rookie Chad Wheeler, who took some snaps on the first team at left tackle this week.


Every year there are a few players who come out of nowhere and put on a show in the preseason and ultimately land a spot on the 53-man roster. Victor Cruz in 2010 is the ultimate example, but just last year Romeo Okwara, an undrafted rookie from Notre Dame, notched a sack in each of the final three preseason games and found himself suiting up Week 1 in Dallas. Who will it be this year?

"There is a lot of competition in camp, so the more competition, the more guys are on the bubble," McAdoo said this week. "If you don't know if you are on the bubble, then you are on the bubble. We talked about how your fears can lead to your greatness, your greatness lies within your fears, so embrace them and compete your tail off on Friday night."

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