The Giants.com crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.
The starting offensive line (Matt Peart, Will Hernandez, Nick Gates, Shane Lemieux, Andrew Thomas) on the current depth chart will be the same for Week 1.
John Schmeelk: Fact - The only position where I have any hesitation is right tackle, where I still think it is possible Nate Solder starts the season as the starter. Solder, however, is still not a full participant in practice, so I have trouble making that prediction with any sort of confidence. I think the Giants will go with their young group of offensive linemen and bet on their progress and improvement. They will face tests early in the season against excellent defenses like Denver and Washington.
Dan Salomone: Fact - Having a 100-game starter who has played in four Super Bowls – won two – as the first tackle off the bench is not a bad way to go. That's what the Giants currently have in their plans for Nate Solder, who backs up second-year pros Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart on the edges. The Giants' confidence in their young players has not changed, and it looks like it won't before the opener, which is just three weeks away.
Lance Medow: Fact - Dave Gettleman made it very clear throughout the offseason that the team has a lot of faith in the youth movement on the offensive line, and now it's time for this group to prove the front office right. In order to accomplish that feat, this unit needs as many reps as possible together. I think Joe Judge and his staff want to give them every opportunity to run away with things. If there's any potential change it would be Nate Solder replacing Matt Peart at right tackle, but considering Peart only played 15 percent of the offensive snaps last season, the only way he'll continue to improve is to continue to get regular season work.
Austrian running back Sandro Platzgummer is the player to watch on Saturday vs. Cleveland.
John Schmeelk: Fiction - I'll return to the offensive line here. Matt Peart recovered well after allowing a sack on the Giants' first drive in their initial preseason game, and it will be important to see continued improvement from him in the second preseason game. It remains to be seen how many of Cleveland's top pass rushers will play in the game, but I would like to see Peart get through his reps without allowing any sacks or quarterback hits. I would also like to see consistent performance from the Giants offensive line group as a whole and hold up against a Browns group that does a lot of stunting and twisting inside.
Dan Salomone: Fact - I'm not quite old enough to use the phrase "in all my years" when it comes to covering the Giants. With that said, in all my years, I have never seen a U.S. Embassy tweet about a member of the Giants. Welcome to Sandro season.
"You know what, everyone likes Sandro, best way I can put it," Joe Judge said. "Everyone likes him. He works hard. Everyone was glad to see his opportunity, and everyone was happy for him when he got in and made the most of it. I think you can boil it down right there. He's a guy that the players really respect and like. These guys in the program he's in, as far as some of the overseas players, it's always a different path for these guys, a different background. I think these guys understand and recognize he's from Austria, he's far away from home. There's some unique things about Sandro. He's really finishing up and finalizing being a doctor over in Europe, so there's a lot of things to him. He works hard. He doesn't say boo. He doesn't ever complain. He just comes in and does his job and the team respects the way he works. When anybody has success like that, I think everyone shares and enjoys it."
Lance Medow: Fiction - Sandro Platzgummer had one of the highlight reel plays in the first preseason game when he ran for 48 yards with the Giants beginning a drive from deep in the opposing end zone. While I'm sure most of his teammates would say that's a player to watch, I'd lean toward a few other names given their performances against the Jets. In the wide receiver corps, C.J. Board, Matt Cole, and David Sills are all players to monitor as they compete for roster spots behind the top four wideouts. Rookie corner Rodarius Williams saw a lot of action in the preseason opener and now it's a matter of whether he can take the next step forward with his development. Fullback Cullen Gillaspia is another player, who is easy to overlook but worth paying attention to as the Giants monitor Eli Penny's competition.
The biggest competition remaining is wide receiver depth.
John Schmeelk: Fiction - With John Ross not practicing, I really think this is David Sills' and C.J. Board's jobs to lose, and I don't think that will happen in this week's preseason game. I want to see how the edge rusher group performs against a strong Browns defensive front. There are snaps to earn out there, and Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Azeez Ojulari and Trent Harris have all flashed at different points in training camp. How the Giants divvy up snaps at that position when all is said and done will be fascinating.
Dan Salomone: Fact - The wide receiver pecking order is usually the most visible competition in training camp, and this year is no different. As always, it will come down to what they can do on special teams. If you see a receiver making plays there, that's a good clue to who will make the 53-man roster.
Lance Medow: Fact - I alluded to this in my response to the previous statement by listing C.J. Board, Matt Cole, and David Sills as players to watch against the Browns. All three of them made noteworthy plays against Jets on offense and special teams with Sills receiving the biggest workload by logging 67 percent of the offensive snaps and leading the team with three receptions for 49 yards. In addition to those players, you also can't overlook Dante Pettis, Alex Bachman, and Damion Willis, who had the lone Giants touchdown of the game. That's at least six players competing for likely no more than two spots.
Rookie Azeez Ojulari will be second on the team in sacks in 2021.
John Schmeelk: Fiction - I think Ojulari is extremely talented, and I thought he was worthy of a late first-round pick. He should become a very strong pass rusher, but at the same time, it takes edge rushers time to adjust to the NFL and become consistent pass rushers every week. It would not surprise me if he finished fourth and fifth in sacks behind players like Leonard Williams, Lorenzo Carter, and Oshane Ximines – and then comes on strong at the end of the season to give everyone a lot of optimism for 2022.
Dan Salomone: Fact - The NFL is a whole different ball game, but you don't just lead the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss by accident. Some guys just turn it on in games, which Ojulari flashed in his first preseason outing against Jets tackle Mekhi Becton. That's not to say he doesn't perform on the practice field, where he has received praise for his mental approach and conditioning.
"Azeez is a diligent worker, smart, and he's taking it all in right now," assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. "Obviously, it's a new league for him. It's a new – not a new position, but just different for him a little. But he's been working really hard listening to the vets and then the thing that shows up when he gets out there on the football field with his pads on, he knows how to play football, which is a positive. He's physical. He's hard to move. He plays with his hands and I'm excited to keep working with him."
Lance Medow: Fiction - The biggest challenge in determining who will finish second is based on how snap counts will be distributed, and at this point, it's very hard to tell how Patrick Graham's rotation will play out. Last season, Leonard Williams led the Giants with 11.5 sacks and Dexter Lawrence and Kyler Fackrell finished tied for second with four. For the sake of context, Lawrence played 60 percent of the snaps, and Fackrell played 56 percent. While Azeez Ojulari is the trendy pick, I'm going with a sleeper: Ifeadi Odenigbo. He had seven sacks in 2019, and although his total dipped to 3.5 last season, he also recorded 15 quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, and a safety. He's capable of being a disruptive player. It's all about opportunity within the Giants' scheme.
Check out must-see photos from the joint practices between the Giants and Browns in Cleveland.