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Giants vs. Browns: 5 storylines to follow


Following two days of joint practices in Cleveland, the Giants will take on the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

Here are five storylines to follow in the Giants' second preseason game.

Continued development for O-line

While many Giants starters did not play in the preseason opener last weekend, the starting offensive line was one unit which did see some action against the Jets. Andrew Thomas, Nick Gates, Will Hernandez, and Matt Peart each played 18 snaps in the first game action of 2021.

Thomas led the way on offense with a 76.0 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, allowing zero pressures on 11 pass-blocking snaps. Peart also played well, earning a 73.2 overall grade, while Hernandez had the highest pass-blocking grade at 81.2.

"There's definitely some positives out there to build on," coach Joe Judge said about the O-line's performance against the Jets. "First time action is always enough to get a clean up and focus on the meetings today and going through, starting with fundamentals, going through the assignments, communication to make sure we're all on the same page. There were enough positives right there to really get a look in terms of what we can do to keep helping these guys and put them in the right position, and maybe some things you want to stay away from in the future in terms of play calling or snaps. But this is the time of year you really find out about that."

It remains to be seen which defensive starters will see the field for the Browns on Sunday. Between Myles Garrett, Malik Jackson, Andrew Billings, and Jadeveon Clowney, the Browns have one of the most talented defensive lines in the league. If any of those four get snaps this weekend, it would provide the Giants O-line with a great opportunity to test its growth.

Check out must-see photos from the joint practices between the Giants and Browns in Cleveland.

Can David Sills continue strong summer?

David Sills has been one of the stars of training camp. The young wide receiver has looked strong at practice on a daily basis, and his impressive summer continued against the Jets.

Sills led the team with three receptions for 49 yards, including a 37-yard reception, while also drawing a defensive pass interference call deep in Jets territory. His performance earned him a 72.0 overall grade from PFF.

"Just take it day by day, continue to control what I can control," Sills said following the preseason opener. "I've kind of had that mindset of just putting my best foot forward every day. Taking it one day at a time, not trying to look into what's going on with the roster spots or how that plays out, just trying to go out there and do my best every day and Coach Judge and (Offensive Coordinator) Coach (Jason) Garrett do a great job of talking about just controlling what you can control and not really worrying about all the other stuff. So that's kind of my mindset every day and to take it in one practice at a time, not looking down the road, just taking it one day at a time."

Sills will get another chance to showcase his skills on Sunday going up against a tough Browns secondary. As competition for roster spots heats up with roster cuts looming, this weekend's game could be pivotal for the 25-year-old receiver.

Who steps up at running back?

The Giants carried the ball 16 times for 105 yards against the Jets, good for an average of 6.6 yards per carry. Sandro Platzgummer finished with a game-high 51 yards on four carries, including an impressive 48-yard scamper from the Giants' one-yard line. Corey Clement was second on the Giants with 32 yards on five carries (6.4 ypc), although he did lose a fumble on the Jets' goal line, while Devontae Booker rushed for 12 yards on three attempts.

Saquon Barkley is the clear leader in the backfield when he is cleared, but the battle for the No. 2 running back spot appears to be a close one. With Barkley sidelined for the matchup against the Browns, both Booker and Clement should see plenty of playing time on Sunday. The Browns had a top 10 rushing defense last year, limiting opponents to 110.8 yards per game on the ground. If one of the veteran backs puts up a strong performance in Cleveland, it could go a long way in solidifying the pecking order in the Giants' backfield.

Competition at inside linebacker

Blake Martinez was a key factor in the success of the defense last season, anchoring down the middle of the field and helping the unit finish top 10 in scoring. Heading into the 2021 campaign, it is still unclear who might be starting next to Martinez at the other middle linebacker spot.

Tae Crowder is listed as the starter on the unofficial depth chart, but following a dominant outing against the Jets last weekend, Carter Coughlin may now be in the conversation as well. Coughlin registered five tackles (four solo), a sack and a forced fumble last weekend, earning a 91.4 overall grade from PFF on his 24 snaps.

"It's awesome that they're moving me around and allowing me to try out different things," the second-year linebacker said after his first game action at middle linebacker last week. "It's been, like I said at the beginning, it was a challenge moving from outside to inside. But the coaches and the other inside linebackers have been helping me a lot and that allows me to play fast and pick up on different things. Guys like (Linebacker) Blake (Martinez) have been really helping me out and it's been a blast."

First road game of the season

The Giants lost their first four road games last season before picking up three consecutive wins away from MetLife Stadium. Sunday's matchup against the Browns will be the first time Joe Judge's squad gets a chance to play in front of opposing fans this year, and the first time in Judge's tenure that they will play in front of a road crowd at full capacity.

The Giants will go on the road three times in the first five weeks of the regular season, including crucial trips within the division to Washington and Dallas. Sunday's contest at FirstEnergy Stadium will provide the team with a great opportunity to play in front of one of the NFL's loudest crowds. The Dawg Pound is known for its raucous noise and will offer a great first road test for this young Giants team.

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