*The Giants.com staff debates Big Blue topics as the preseason concludes: *
After Thursday's finale, the Giants' toughest roster decisions are at tight end.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - The Giants seem to be combining the positions of tight end and fullback in formulating their roster. They will cut someone at this spot that has a very good chance of picking up with another NFL team. Will they stretch to five combined fullbacks and tight ends or stick with four? Do they hold onto a veteran like Will Tye or go with someone more unproven like Matt LaCosse or Jerell Adams. It is not an easy call. The other two spots that are tough are linebacker and wide receiver, where the team has to decide whether to keep two banged up players around: Tavarres King and Mark Herzlich.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact - This really stems from whether or not the Giants will keep a traditional fullback, which they did not last season. And, frankly, I still have no idea whether or not they will as we know how Ben McAdoo likes to use hybrid tight ends. And to complicate matters, Matt LaCosse went out and had a monster game in his final audition, backing up what everyone has seen from him in practice.
LANCE MEDOW Fact -All you need to do is look at Matt LaCosse's performance and this is an easy fact. He had the standout performance Thursday night with five receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns. It's more than safe to say Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison have solidified their spots so the question remains how many tight ends will they keep and how could the use of a fullback on the roster potentially impact the number of tight ends. If they choose to go with three tight ends that means they'd have to choose between LaCosse, last year's sixth round pick Jerell Adams, who is still developing, and last season's starter Will Tye, who hauled in four catches for 48 yards in the preseason finale. Quarterback and kicker deserve some consideration but based on Thursday's performances, I'd still rank tight end ahead of the other two.
Kicker Aldrick Rosas was the MVP of the preseason.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - That goes to Jason Pierre-Paul in my opinion. When JPP was playing he was all over the field in both the pass and run games. He had tackles, sacks, interceptions, passes defended and everything else you could imagine. This is not to take anything away from Rosas who has done everything possible to earn a job on this team. He was fantastic.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact -Preseason is all about guys like Aldrick Rosas. He spent the offseason as the lone kicker on the roster, but the Giants had a plan to bring in some competition and eventually pulled that lever by signing 14-year veteran Mike Nugent. The two went kick for kick all preseason until the finale, where the coaches wanted to see how Rosas would fare in handling all of the responsibilities. He checked every box and then some, making a 48-yard field goal as time expired for a victory on the road. It's only preseason, but the untested kicker isn't untested anymore. Heck, he even broke down the huddle in the postgame locker room.
LANCE MEDOW Fiction -Aldrick Rosas had a memorable preseason by converting all eight of his field goal attempts, highlighted by a game-winning 48-yarder in Thursday's finale against the Patriots. With that being said, it's hard to top Jason Pierre-Paul's performance this preseason. In just two appearances, JPP collected 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, an interception, a safety, and two passes defensed. Yes, it's only the preseason, but this may be the best we've seen JPP since suffering the hand injury or, perhaps, in his career. The veteran defensive end was extremely active and disruptive in limited preseason action and wreaked havoc against opposing starting offensive linemen.
*Geno Smith was the most impressive backup quarterback against the Patriots. *
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - Geno Smith moved the ball up and down the field, which is something he has done most of this preseason. More importantly, he did not make a critical mistake that cost the Giants points. He took a sack in the red zone, which you don't want to do, but is certainly a better option than forcing a pass into tight coverage that turns into an interception. Smith was a high draft pick for a reason and he showed that against the Patriots. Josh Johnson played well, too, but I thought the pass game looked more like it does with Eli with Geno in the game as compared to Johnson.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact -He completed his first seven passes, including a 25-yard touchdown to Matt LaCosse, the team's first score of the preseason through the air. He completed all but one of his 11 throws, and more importantly, didn't have any critical errors.
LANCE MEDOW Fact -It's fair to say all three quarterbacks, especially Davis Webb, were impressive against the Patriots, considering Webb's final drive that helped set up Aldrick Rosas' game winning field goal. However, I think this was Geno Smith's best performance of the preseason. He was efficient as he completed ten of his 11 passes attempts for 111 yards, spread the wealth around the field, threw a perfect touchdown pass to Matt LaCosse from 25 yards out and, most important, protected the ball. Smith made a very strong case for the backup job.
Linebacker is the most unsettled position heading into cutdown day.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - As I mentioned earlier, the Herzlich injury is a big question mark. How is Keenan Robinson doing in concussion protocol? There is also a fair question as to how ready J.T. Thomas is coming off a torn ACL. It will be hard to carry three linebackers with injury questions on the active roster. Then you have young linebackers to choose from in Calvin Munson and Deontae Skinner. It will be interesting to see how the front office handles this.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact -Between injuries and bubble players, this is a hard fact. J.T. Thomas is somewhere in between as he continues his comeback campaign from a torn ACL, which he suffered in last year's opener. He made a great play on Thursday to force a fumble while young guys like Calvin Munson and Curtis Grant, who led the team in tackles and has played all three linebacker positions, are trying to prove they belong on a roster in the NFL.
LANCE MEDOW Fact -I'd put cornerback up there with linebacker given the unknown of who will be the fourth player on the depth chart but, at least at corner, for the most part, all three starters are in good shape heading into the regular season opener. You can't say that at linebacker. Keenan Robinson is still in concussion protocol, Mark Herzlich is dealing with a burner and J.T. Thomas is still working his way back from a torn ACL. Those are three veterans that were on last season's roster and Robinson played a key role given his versatility in coverage. Their health moving forward will dictate how many linebackers are kept but let's not overlook the fact that five of the 11 linebackers currently on the roster have just one year or less of experience in the NFL. Depth at any position is important and it's fair to say given the health of the linebacker corps, that position is still unsettled.