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Cover 4: What to look for this week in Detroit 


Based on what you've seen so far at camp, who are you looking forward to seeing in joint practices and the preseason opener in Detroit? The crew discusses:

John Schmeelk: When a different opponent enters the equation, everything in training camp changes. Players aren't facing the same guys or schemes they have seen since spring ball began in May. There's no more taking advantage of knowing the scheme or even the body language of the player you are going against. When the Giants start practicing – and playing – against another team, truth will be revealed for individual players as their skills are tested against unfamiliar foes.

The Giants are undoubtedly a young and talented team, but how will they fare against the Detroit Lions? They're a team favored to win the NFC North and finished with a similar record (9-8), point differential (+26) to the Giants that beat them 31-18 last year. The Lions have one the best designed offenses in football with some dynamic skill position players. How will the Giants cornerbacks, especially young ones like Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins, cover receivers like Amon-Ra St. Brown? Their offensive line is one of the best in football, and I want to see the Giants' rush against that line.

For the Giants' offense, how will they block Aidan Hutchinson? Will Jalin Hyatt have the same success against the Lions secondary as he has so far in camp? It will be all about matchups, which will serve as a scale to measure where the Giants are compared to another team that will be battling for an NFC playoff spot. I can't wait to see it.

Dan Salomone: Brian Daboll has yet to announce the plan, but you often see the starters more in the joint practices than the actual game, where coaches can take a long look at the youth on the roster. Whichever way it plays out, there's one person in the middle section of that Venn diagram: Deonte Banks.

One of the first things general manager Joe Schoen said when he took over is that he believes in "drafting, developing and then retaining our own." Banks headlined the second draft – and really the first full offseason – for the current regime. In order for the organization to have long-term success, the top brass knows it needs to hit on players like Banks. What better way to take his development to the next step than getting reps against a new opponent?

View photos of the team traveling to Detroit for joint practices with the Lions before the preseason opener.

Lance Medow: I've brought this player up earlier in the offseason as one to watch, and after the first week of camp, I'm sticking with that suggestion: Eric Gray. The rookie running back out of Oklahoma is receiving plenty of reps in the return game, and it will be interesting to see if he gets some opportunities or, as I like to call it at bats, in the preseason opener in Detroit. Gray has experience in that department in college as he returned nine punts and four kickoffs between Tennessee and Oklahoma over his four-year career. When special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey spoke with the media last Thursday, he noted Gray's talent when discussing potential candidates in the return game and mentioned they may look to create chances for returns in the preseason given the new rule changes within that facet.

While special teams is an area Gray can flash, let's also not overlook his abilities as part of the ground attack. Given veterans Saquon Barkley and Matt Breida will likely be spectators in the opener, Gray should receive plenty of playing time, and with his athleticism and skillset as a receiver, I'd keep close tabs on what he could bring to the table.

Matt Citak: There are two rookies, one on each side of the ball, that I am most excited to see this week in Detroit. Wide receiver Jalin Hyatt is one, as it will be interesting to see if he continues to display his big-play ability when going up against a different opponent. However, the player I'm most looking forward to seeing this week is cornerback Tre Hawkins III.

When the Giants selected Hawkins with the 209th overall pick, I don't think many people believed he'd be competing for a starting spot this summer. However, the rookie out of Old Dominion has been one of the stars of training camp thus far. Hawkins has made plays during team drills just about every day since the start of camp. Not only has he gotten his hands on the ball often, but the 6-foot-3, 195-pound corner has also had sticky coverage against some of the top receivers.

This week will serve as a great test for the rookie corner. The Lions have some talent in their WR room, led by Pro Bowler Amon-Ra St. Brown. Through his first two seasons, St. Brown has totaled 196 receptions for 2,073 yards and 11 touchdowns, and is a popular choice by many in the media for another big campaign this year. Detroit's receiver room also includes veterans Marvin Jones and Josh Reynolds, along with younger receivers such as Jameson Williams and the newly-acquired Denzel Mims.

View photos of the New York Giants' 2023 roster as it currently stands.


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