By 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur will have set their second 53-man roster together. It will look different than last year’s, and it will be almost unrecognizable to the one they had 20 months ago when they took over as general manager and head coach.
Since then, they have gone through two drafts and free agency cycles in which they aggressively reshaped the makeup of the team. While the roster is a living, breathing entity that requires year-round attention, the 2019 New York Giants will, by and large, go as far as the remaining 53 men on Saturday take them.
“I think we’re all sort of real about what’s going on here,” Shurmur said after Tuesday’s practice. “Every team has 90 (players right now), and they’re going to get down to 53. Each one of those conversations is as different as the player that you’re talking to, because they’re all at different stages of their career.
“Some of them are older players, some of them are younger players, and the reality of it is that a lot of these players are going to get an opportunity hopefully someplace else, or maybe back here when our roster changes as the season goes on. We’re just open and honest about everything. We all go into it knowing that we’re going to have to have some of those conversations.”
Those talks will be tougher this year.
In 2018, only a couple of players ended up on other teams after not making the Giants’ top 53. Shurmur thinks there will be more this time around, which is a sign of a healthier roster, and one of his main messages to players this summer was “either make our team or somebody else’s.” Thursday night’s preseason finale in New England will be their last opportunity.
“I’m very comfortable with the guys that we have,” Shurmur said. “We’re going to put the roster together and get ready to go against Dallas (in the season opener). I’m comfortable. Obviously, we’re going to be able to see some things in this game, from the players that are playing, that will help us determine who’s on the 53.”
Conversely, the Giants will also keep an ear to the ground when 31 other clubs jam the waiver wire on Saturday.
“I’m always looking at players and seeing which guys might be a good fit for us,” Shurmur said. “We know a lot of these players because we’ve evaluated all of them as coaches, before the draft and then through the years playing against them. We have a pretty substantial scouting report on most of the guys that are in the league. We certainly, as coaches, have an opinion.”
*Left tackle Nate Solder was excused from practice today for personal reasons. Chad Slade stepped up with the first team as the competition for tackle depth comes to a head. “We’re going to play this game out (on Thursday) and then we’re going to make a decision on who the backups are,” Shurmur said. “It’s that wide open.”
*Wide receiver Alex Wesley left practice with an ankle injury. Shurmur said it had been sore and that the medical staff checked it out.
*Running back Rod Smith came out of the third preseason game with an adductor injury. While Saquon Barkley has sat the entire preseason, Smith carried the ball 21 times for 62 yards and a touchdown while making one start in three games.
“We’re just going to have to see where it’s at,” Shurmur said. “I think he’s done some good things. Up until when he got hurt last week, he made good improvement and steady progress. If he’s a member of our initial 53, we’ll certainly have a role for him.”
*Paul Perkins, who is also part of the competition behind Barkley, will look to make his final case on Thursday night. The former fifth-round draft pick missed all of last season after suffering a pectoral injury while bench pressing in the offseason.
“I’m just going to go out there and play how I play,” Perkins said. “I don’t want to press into anything, because that’s going to make me step out of who I am and my personality on the field. I’ll just go out there and play, and let the plays come to me. Let the game come to me. Just go out there and have fun, because at the end of the day, whether it is my last time playing for the Giants or I get kept, it’s going to be the last time we play for a lot of these guys. Just go out there and have fun.”
*Simultaneous to the cut-down to 53, clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/NonFootball Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active List. On Sunday, clubs may establish a Practice Squad of 10 players.