EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – NFL teams today set their initial 53-man rosters, but with the entire league on a bye week, unprecedented player movement could take place before Week 1 of the regular season.
The reduction of the preseason schedule from four to three games leaves each team with two weeks to tinker with its roster before playing a game that counts in the standings. The Giants will certainly look to see who they can acquire to help before their Sept. 12 opener against Denver and beyond.
"I think what's unique this year, obviously compared to previous years, is you have the extra week," coach Joe Judge said after the Giants revealed their personnel moves. "I think you're going to see a lot more roster turnover than probably in previous years because there's going to be a lot of players that have been claimed or will be claimed that are almost going to be on short-term tryouts, a lot of teams. There's going to be a lot of roster turnover, in our opinion, these next two weeks."
Some players might get anxious thinking their job security could be tenuous with more moves coming. But Judge has larger concerns.
"In terms of stressing that this is short term, it's our job and responsibility to inform all the players all the time that this is a production business," he said. "It's a day-to-day business, for all of us, coaches and players. We've got to make sure we show up and we operate every day, and we execute efficiently. The players have to understand that they have to come in and perform every day. As coaches, we have to perform as well."
View photos of the New York Giants' active 53-man roster as it currently stands heading into Week 1.
*The Giants' practice field looked relatively empty today after 28 players were released from the roster.
"This is not an easy day for any coach or player in the building," Judge said. "There's a lot of guys that sacrifice a lot for you, that put a lot into it for you. You walk in there and look at empty chairs, that's not easy for any coach or player. I think it's natural to come into work today with a little bit of a deflated mood. It's our job and responsibility to get back up and get on the field and prepare going forward today."
"It's always a really, really tough day," nine-year safety Logan Ryan said. "A lot of good guys, it's the hardest part of the year. I'm fortunate every year I make the team, I don't take it for granted. There might be a day when they call me or I'll call them first, who knows? But it's really hard because a lot of guys gave it their all and sometimes you give it your all in life and it doesn't work out. I think a lot of guys showed well for themselves, so hopefully they catch jobs elsewhere. It's a small league, you run across these guys again and that's why the fraternity of the league is you're shaking hands after games with guys you played with and you never take it for granted. It's a tough day for me, as well. Never fun."
*The Giants traded for offensive linemen two days in a row, acquiring Billy Price from Cincinnati yesterday and Ben Bredeson from Baltimore today.
"I think both guys have upside to work with," Judge said. "They have potential to go ahead and improve our team. Every decision we make is always with the team's best interest at hand. There are two guys that are available this time of year, there's roster movement on all 32 teams. There's more players available this time of year than at any other point in the NFL calendar year. There's a lot of communication between clubs and obviously everyone's responsibility to do their due diligence and find out who's available and see if someone's out there to help your team."
*Judge said he "really couldn't give you an answer to that right now" when asked about tight end Evan Engram's availability for the opener. Engram hurt his calf in the preseason finale vs. New England.
"It's very much a gray area right now in terms of where he's going to be going," Judge said. "I'll kind of give him a couple more days, see where he's at, see how he progresses, see if he moves around a little bit, we'll kind of make a decision from there.
"We'll kind of see in the next couple of days where we think this could go. We're only a few days out right now, he's a guy that's shown some quick turnaround in the past. Last year he had something very similar, so we'll see where this is. It's not the same injury as before, but we'll see how his body responds and make decisions for him and the team."
*Saquon Barkley didn't play in a preseason game and Judge is not prepared to say definitively he will face the Broncos.
"There won't be a decision made on Saquon until Denver week and it's probably not going to be Monday, just to give you a heads up on that," Judge told reporters. "We're going to go ahead and see how his body responds and where he's at."
Barkley has yet to absorb any hard contact this summer, but Judge is gauging the running back's movements and how his body responds to practice.
"I've seen that progress positively," Judge said. "I rely a lot on the information from our training staff and medical staff and doctors who spend a lot of time with him. I know he's been working hard; we get a lot of GPS numbers and different readings on his body. They trend in the right direction for him with how he's working. I'm very pleased with how he's working. He's had some good days on the field with us. We've been building his volume little by little, probably the biggest day for us was seeing him on the field against New England last week (working out before the game)."
*Do the defensive players want to help Barkley get re-accustomed to getting hit?
"He's (chomping) at the bit," Ryan said. "I think (linebacker) Blake (Martinez) has first dibs. Unfortunately, I haven't played with Say a lot, but I just love him as a teammate. He brings a certain energy to him and he's a really hard worker. He just has so much confidence in himself and I think it rubs off on people. I just think he's a guy that's a force multiplier. I think he makes the players around him better and the guys block a little better trying to spring him. He's just an energy bunny for our team. Whatever he needs, extra hits, extra routes, whatever it is, I'm free to give him that to get him ready to go when it's his time to go."
*Like Barkley, wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring) had a rigorous workout on the MetLife Stadium turf before the Patriots game.
"For a lot of those guys it was some of the best work they had," Judge said. "It should be because it's further along in the rehab for everyone, so it should constantly get better. Reports on him is he's been improving and working really, really hard. When I've seen him with my own eyes, I've seen progress from when we first lost him from practice (on Aug. 3) to where he is right now. We'll see where he is next week. The good news is there's still a good bit of time between now and a game for what he's dealing with. We'll see where that is."
Catch up on all the summer action with these must-see photos from training camp and preseason games.