On the weekly to-do lists of coaches around the NFL, the unofficial depth chart released to the media falls somewhere between cleaning the office and getting sleep. Neither is a priority. Leading up to the season opener, it is even lower.
(Here comes the but.)
But writers and fans alike can't help themselves. The Giants released an updated depth chart ahead of their Week 1 matchup at home against the Jaguars. As always, it is unofficial and simply serves as the base layer of what you will actually see on the field on Sunday.
Here are the takeaways:
1. No depth chart behind Eli. When asked about the quarterbacks in the middle of training camp, coach Pat Shurmur said, "In my mind, we have Eli [Manning], and we haven't really structured the depth chart beyond that." That statement came to a head over the weekend when the Giants waived second-year pro Davis Webb, who played primarily with the second-string offense this summer but did not appear in the preseason finale. That left the Giants with two quarterbacks – Alex Tanney and rookie Kyle Lauletta. On the first depth chart of the regular season, both were slotted in the second column with no one in the third.
"We'll see [who is the second quarterback] and I'll let you guys know as we go here," Shurmur said Monday. "I do like having a veteran presence in that group."
Despite appearing in only one game in his career (2015 with the Titans), Tanney is a 30-year-old veteran playing for his ninth different team since entering the league in 2012. Lauletta, the Giants' fourth-round draft choice out of Richmond, turns 23 in November.
2. Newcomer Clay to be a factor as return specialist. Wide receiver Kaelin Clay, one of the six players claimed off waivers the day after Saturday's 53-man roster deadline, is slotted as the primary punt returner. He is also the secondary kick returner behind Cody Latimer. Fellow wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard also appear on the depth chart behind Clay on punts. Clay has a 9.4-yard average on 42 punt returns in 20 career games, including touchdowns of 82 and 60 yards. Clay also has a 23.2-yard average on 17 kickoff returns.
"We're still figuring that out, but we brought in a player, a receiver that played it and we think can do it, so we'll figure it out from there," Shurmur said. "We all know we have a really good one just hanging around, number 13 (Odell Beckham Jr.), so we feel really good about the fact if he has to go in there and do it, but we are certainly looking for a guy that can also do it."
If No. 13 is an option, what about No. 26? Rookie running back Saquon Barkley became one of the most feared playmakers in college football in part due to his kickoff returns.
"Sure," Shurmur said. "I think he returned one to open the game against Ohio State a year ago. So, yeah, he's capable."
3. Waiver pickups find spots on depth chart. The Giants were by no means done shaping their roster at 4:01 p.m. on Saturday. A day after the deadline, the Giants claimed six players who were released by other teams. The newest Giants are defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. (listed second on depth chart behind both Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson), Clay (third-team offense in addition to return specialist), offensive lineman Spencer Pulley (second behind right guard Patrick Omameh), and defensive backs Antonio Hamilton (third-team left cornerback), Mike Jordan (third-team right cornerback) and Kamrin Moore (third-team free safety). All six players practiced with their new team on Monday.
4. Three rookies (possibly four) in starting lineup. Outside of the wake caused by the weekend's roster news, there are no major updates on the depth chart. The starters have been the same since training camp, most even going back to spring football. The lineup includes three rookies -- two on offense (Barkley and left guard Will Hernandez) and one on defense (defensive lineman B.J. Hill). The status of outside linebacker Olivier Vernon (sprained ankle) opens the possibility for four. Lorenzo Carter, picked three spots ahead of Hill in the third round, is listed behind Vernon. The veteran edge-rusher did not participate in the first practice of game week. "He was in the training room getting treatment," Shurmur said. "We're hopeful [he'll play Sunday], but we'll just have to see."
5. Gallman backs up Barkley. Again, don't put too much stock in unofficial depth charts, but there was one shakeup that may be noteworthy come game day. Second-year running back Wayne Gallman is listed as the second running back behind Barkley. He is followed by veteran Jonathan Stewart, who was second in the preseason depth charts, and rookie Robert Martin. The Giants also have fullback Shane Smith. Gallman certainly got the coaches' attention this summer.