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Giants instant impact newcomers to watch in 2019

A look at the team's current 53-man roster heading into Week 1 vs. Dallas.

Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur just finalized their second roster together as general manager and head coach. Among the 53 players are a handful of key newcomers who were added in the offseason through the draft and free agency. Giants.com takes a look at those who will make the biggest impact in 2019 and beyond:

G KEVIN ZEITLER: The Giants shored up the left side of the offensive line last year by signing former Patriots left tackle Nate Solder and drafting left guard Will Hernandez in the second round. This year, they had to do something about the right side. They acquired 100-game starter Kevin Zeitler in a trade with the Browns, and later picked up veteran tackle Mike Remmers, who had previous experience with Shurmur in Minnesota. Offensive line coach Hal Hunter, who has been coaching for nearly 40 years, said Zeitler is the most focused player he has ever been around. That approach has rubbed off on the entire offensive line, giving it an old-school feel.

SAFETIES ANTOINE BETHEA AND JABRILL PEPPERS: With the exception of cornerback Janoris Jenkins, the Giants have a new group of starters in the secondary. Bethea is a three-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion who, despite turning 35 this summer, has plenty of gas left in the tank. He racked up 121 tackles last season in Arizona, the second-most in his 13-year career. He also had a career-high three sacks. Next to him is up-and-comer Jabrill Peppers, a New Jersey high school legend. The former first-round draft choice spent his first two seasons in Cleveland before being traded to the Giants, who hope he is just scratching the surface as their Swiss Army knife.

DL DEXTER LAWRENCE: Edge rushers get a lot of the attention, but pushing the middle of the pocket is just as important in pressuring the passer. The Giants drafted the 6-foot-4, 342-pound Clemson product to do just that. His effectiveness may not show up in stat sheets, but opposing offenses will have to game plan for him. In addition to being a massive hog molly, Lawrence also has incredible athleticism for his size and can play all the positions on the defensive line in James Bettcher’s 3-4 scheme.

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CB DEANDRE BAKER: The Giants traded back into the first round of this year’s draft to select Baker, regarded by many as the best cover corner in the class. It didn’t take long for the 2018 Jim Thorpe Award winner (given to the top defensive back in college football) to make his way up to the first team. He sprained his knee on Aug. 11 but is confident he will be ready for Week 1 in Dallas.

OLB MARKUS GOLDEN: Golden was in Arizona for all three seasons Bettcher served as defensive coordinator, and the two have been reunited. Bettcher’s Cardinals ranked fifth, second and sixth in yards allowed from 2015-2017. They also led the NFL with 48 sacks in 2016, 12.5 of which came from Golden. Unfortunately, Golden suffered a serious knee injury the following year and returned with only 2.5 sacks in 11 games in 2018. However, he and the Giants are confident he can get back to his 2016 production level, if not higher.

QB DANIEL JONES: Team president John Mara hopes he never sees the sixth overall draft choice this year, which would mean Eli Manning is playing well and, more importantly, the team is winning. Whether or not Jones does make it to the field this season, he has already made an impact on the team. He finished the preseason with the league’s highest completion percentage (85.3), average yards per attempt (12.2) and passer rating (137.3) among players who attempted more than six passes. Time will tell when he takes his next snap.

“Well, I think that you continue to work, and this isn’t unique to the quarterback position,” Shurmur said. “I think that the backup player, and the primary backup in this case, is a guy that gets the mental reps, he gets the physical reps before and after practice, during special teams periods—he’ll go and execute all the plays that we would execute in the game. On his own time, under our direction, we get him as ready as we can. That’s just the way this works, and we’re confident that he’s put himself in position to go in and execute at a high level, so that’s really how that works. This is not new.”

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