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Giants vs. Browns: Storylines and predictions

New Schemes: Head coach Pat Shurmur, offensive coordinator Mike Schula and defensive coordinator James Bettcher are bringing brand new schemes to both sides of the ball for the Giants this year. It will be the first chance for fans to see those schemes in a real game situation.

Based on what the offense has shown on the field at practice, fans should expect to see a lot more two tight end (12) personnel this season featuring Rhett Ellison and Even Engram. Skill position players have been lined up all over the formation, with Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard moving inside and outside depending on the play. Saquon Barkley has been seen lined up at wide receiver as well.

“I think we train our receivers to play receiver so they could be detached by themselves, detached with somebody inside them, or in the slot,” head coach Pat Shurmur said. “At this point, it’s conceptual learning. That way there’s flexibility, so that when it’s time to play the game and we actually specifically game plan, they’ve got experience in all areas.”

Defensively, the best word to use to describe the scheme is “aggressive”. I wouldn’t expect to see the full gamut in the preseason, but at practice there have been blitzes coming from everywhere. Safeties, cornerbacks and linebackers are regularly blitzed from all angles.

The Offensive Line: The offensive line given been completely reconstructed from last year. If the current starters keep their positions on the unofficial depth chart, there won’t be one player from last year’s line starting in the same spot.

Given his NFL pedigree, Nate Solder should seamlessly slide into his left tackle spot and give Eli Manning some comfort on his blindside. Will Hernandez, a rookie making his first start, will get his first action at left guard on Thursday night. Jon Halapio, who appears to have a leg up at this point, is engaged in a competition with Brett Jones at center. The preseason will determine who wins that battle.

The right side will probably get the most eyes. Newcomer Patrick Omameh will start at right guard, with Ereck Flowers getting his first start at right tackle since being a freshman at Miami.

Depth at offensive tackle is also something to watch. Every team needs a good swing tackle, and while Chad Wheeler has been put in position to seize that role he will have to prove what he can do it in game situations.

Chemistry with all the offensive line units will be important to develop early in the preseason, which playing against James Bettcher’s blitz happy defense in practice has certainly helped. .

“It helps a lot,” Flowers said. “It helps everybody a lot. I don’t think I have been to a practice where we’ve done this many blitzes and this many different looks. It’s definitely great in terms of preparing for games.”

New Arrivals: This will be the first time Giants fans get to see their newest players in Giants uniforms at Metlife stadium. The Giants brought in a number of important veterans during free agency in March. Nate Solder will be the team’s starting left tackle. Patrick Omameh will start at right guard. Jonathan Stewart, another free agent addition will get snaps at running back. On defense, the Giants made a trade for MIKE linebacker Alec Ogletree. Kareem Martin will be one of the starting outside linebackers. Riley Dixon, acquired in a trade, is the only punter with the team.

It will also be the first time to see the rookie class in a game. Second overall pick Saquon Barkley is listed as the starter at running back. Will Hernandez will start at left guard. BJ Hill is listed a starter as a defensive lineman along with Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson. Linebacker Lorenzo Carter will get plenty of opportunities to rush the passer. Kyle Lauletta should get some fourth quarter snaps at quarterback.

Competition: There are a number of different spots with position battles going on that Giants fans should keep an eye on.

1.      Center: Brett Jones was the starter last year but Jon Halapio has come on and is getting more reps with the first team at practice. It is an open battle and preseason games will go a long way towards deciding who the starter will be against Jacksonville.

2.      Safety: It’s another wide open competition for who will start next to Landon Collins. Curtis Riley will start but expect a lot of reps for Darian Thompson, Michael Thomas, Andrew Adams, and Sean Chandler. William Gay is a sleeper here, who has moved to safety after playing much of the offseason as a slot cornerback.

3.      Nickel Cornerback: You can say with some confidence that Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple will be the two starting cornerbacks but who is the third guy? The fourth? The fifth? Donte Deayon was having a strong camp but a hamstring injury has knocked him off the field for more than a week. Veterans BW Webb and Leonard Johnson have gotten looks as the starting slot as well. Chris Lewis-Harris has had some moments at practice as well, figuring out a way to get his hands on the football.

4.      Third Wide Receiver: Who are the receivers on the roster going to be past Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Hunter Sharp and Cody Latimer are the next two on the unofficial depth chart, and both will be featured prominently in the return game. Then you have Roger Lewis, Kalif Raymond and other youngsters that will try to make their case as well.

Breakouts and Bounce Backs: The Giants are counting on a lot of their former draft picks to take a step forward this season with more consistent play and prominent roles. Sterling Shepard looked like he was on the verge of breaking out last year before a preseason ankle injury. Evan Engram is entering his second year and hopes to eliminate his rookie mistakes and become a high level tight end every game.

One defense, BJ Goodson was in and out of the lineup all of last season due to injuries. He will have a chance to be a three down linebacker this year. Eli Apple’s sophomore season problems don’t need repeating, but he’s shown a lot of physicality and confidence at practice. The team needs him to be a dependable cornerback.

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