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Giants vs. Lions Storylines and Predictions

Here are five storylines heading into Friday's preseason game against the Lions:

1. Giants, Lions both benefit from joint practices. For the first time since 2015, the New York Giants participated in joint practices on the road leading up to a preseason game. The team spent the week in Allen Park, Michigan, where they practiced for three days with the Lions in advance of Friday's meeting at Ford Field. Coaches Pat Shurmur and Matt Patricia, two of the most coveted coordinators from this offseason's coaching search, led a productive week for both teams.

"I think every situation, especially the uncontrolled situations, aside from the tactics of football, you just see the way the guys respond to adversity, see the ways guys respond to playing in a different setting, and that's what I learn," Shurmur said. "Then, if for some reason they don't respond as well as we would like, we address it with them and say, 'Hey listen, the next time this comes up, you should be thinking this'. So, when you can do it against another team that you're not going to play this season unless we meet in the playoffs, then it's a really good thing for the player, and so that's why I think this is valuable."

2. Saquon's hamstring and other injury notes. Running back Saquon Barkley, the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, left Monday's practice in East Rutherford after stretching out for a long reception. He made the trip to Detroit but was sidelined for practices and likely the game due to the mildly strained hamstring. He remains day-to-day. Meanwhile, safety Darian Thompson (hamstring), cornerback Donte Deayon (hamstring), tight end Ryan O'Malley (ankle), linebacker Thurston Armbrister (hamstring), wide receiver Travis Rudolph (quad), and linebacker Connor Barwin have also missed time.

As for three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who is coming off a season-ending ankle injury, he and Shurmur have a game plan for his return to game action. In the meantime, Beckham was able to practice this week for the first time against a live opponent not wearing a Giants uniform.

"There were some periods where I remember I was going eight plays in a row, or something like that," Beckham said. "You kind of build up that wind. And even in practice, I've been getting pushed a lot at practice. Asking for reps just because I need it. I need to feel that. I need to feel eight to 10 plays, maybe 15 plays, and just kind of get that back. It's just very helpful to be able to come out and go against somebody else and compete. Every day that you have the chance to go out on the field, we have a chance to get better right now. So that's all I'm focusing on."

3. Riley is looking to clarify things at safety. Shurmur admitted that the coaching staff didn't get any "clarity" at the free safety position in the preseason opener against the Browns. That's because Curtis Riley, who had seen extensive reps with the first team next to two-time Pro Bowler Landon Collins, was dealing with a hamstring injury. Darian Thompson, who started all 16 games and played the most snaps on defense for the Giants last season, started in his place but then left with his own hamstring injury that he suffered on a special teams play. Andrew Adams, the team's leading tackler from the opener, and Michael Thomas are also competing.

"I just have to come into it as a practice, same as practice," Riley said of possibly starting Friday night. "Everything I do in practice is translated into the game. It makes the game easier if I'm doing all the right things in practice."

Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants take on the Lions Friday night

4. Gallman showing RB depth in Saquon's absence. The Giants have not boasted a 1,000-yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw cleared that mark by 15 yards in 2012, but the team now finds itself with a loaded backfield. Barkley, of course, is the headliner Panther Jonathan Stewart brings a veteran presence as well as production (he ran for 680 yards and six touchdowns in his 10th and final season in Carolina). And then there is Wayne Gallman, the Giants' 2017 fourth-round draft choice. Shurmur wasn't around to see Gallman's rookie year in person, but he is "gaining an appreciation" for what the Clemson product is as "a runner, a pass catcher, and a blocker." Gallman flashed in the preseason opener by leading the team in receptions, an area that he has gained more confidence with "knowing what the quarterbacks want." Now he has an even bigger opportunity to showcase his skills with Barkley sidelined for the time being.

"Any of these young players that can get more reps than we had originally scheduled for them," Shurmur said, "that's a blessing for those guys because they have the opportunity to show us more of what they can do, and improve."

5. Another preseason game, another opportunity for QB Webb (and Lauletta). Second-year quarterback Davis Webb admittedly "missed far too many" throws last Friday against the Browns, his first game action since the previous August. "I was pumped up," he said. "It was my first time playing in a year, so I think the biggest thing was kind of just take a deep breath, let the game come to you." The next game comes to him on Friday night against the Lions, whom he saw all week in practice while spending some time running the first-team offense. Webb has been the first quarterback off the bench behind Eli Manning, followed by rookie Kyle Lauletta, who completed six of nine passes for 48 yards in his first game and also saw time with the first team this week to give Manning a break. 

"I think it's important as the guys play, as backup players play in the first unit, it helps," Shurmur said. "I think it's important as a quarterback, though, to complete your passes. It doesn't matter who you're playing with or who you're playing behind."

Clubs must reduce their active rosters to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 1. Shurmur was asked his philosophy on keeping two or three quarterbacks. "Well, we want to keep the best 53 guys," he said. "[General manager] Dave [Gettleman] teases me that I'm a body collector. I like having lots of players around, and certainly I think the quarterback position is important, and they're hard to develop, so if you've got a guy worthy of being on the 53, we'll keep him. If for some reason there's a player in another position that's more valuable at that time, then you keep two."

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