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Joe Judge sees positives from O-line; 'good chance' Giants sign more depth


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Joe Judge said Sunday there were "definitely some positives out there to build on" regarding the Giants' first-team offensive line in the preseason opener, but that won't preclude him from adding players to that position group this week.

The starters, minus injured left guard Shane Lemieux, who was replaced by Kenny Wiggins, played 15 snaps in the first three offensive series in the 12-7 loss to the Jets in MetLife Stadium. With backup quarterback Mike Glennon directing, the Giants went three-and-out, and gained 33 and 32 yards on their next two possessions before punting and losing a fumble at the three-yard line.

"There were enough positives right there to really get a look in terms of what we can do to keep helping these guys and put them in the right position, and maybe some things you want to stay away from in the future in terms of play calling or snaps," Judge said. "But this is the time of year you really find out about that. In practice, you find out about some things. When you see a foreign opponent, you find out a little bit more about it right there. In terms of how they worked, how they responded on the sideline, the adjustments they made, that was encouraging. We've got to keep making progress and moving forward."

"It was good to be back out there and playing a game and facing other people than your own team," center Nick Gates said. "There are some good things and there's some bad things, but we definitely have a little bit of ways to go before we're in mid-season form."

The second line didn't stay intact very long as left guard Kyle Murphy left the game with an ankle injury, leading to the return of Wiggins, whose 41 snaps were nine more than any Giants offensive player had.

The Giants have 14 offensive linemen, including veteran Ted Larsen, who was signed Friday and did not play last night. They will hold joint practices with the Browns in Cleveland Thursday and Friday before the teams meet next Sunday in a preseason game. Judge hopes to bolster the line before the workouts begin.

"On the offensive line, you've got to have a lot of bodies to operate, so in terms of bringing somebody in, there's a good chance that we're going to look to bring somebody in before going to Cleveland," Judge said. "In terms of how fast somebody can get caught up, I'd say that it's really independent to the individual and their experience level, but I would say as coaches it's our job to get them caught up with what we're going to ask them to do. You don't start with the entire playbook, you start with the install they have to operate with, harp on the technique and the calls they're going to have at the line of scrimmage to make sure they can go out there and operate with your guys."

Judge isn't looking to add players exclusively on the O-line. But first he must subtract a few. All NFL teams must reduce their rosters to no more than 85 players by Tuesday at 4 p.m., meaning the Giants must trim five players.

"We'll talk through the roster over the next couple of days before we have to make our official moves," Judge said. "…Everyone we have in our program we have a plan to work with and develop and have a role on this team. We'll just have to talk through what's best for the team going forward."

Regarding potential additions to the team, Judge said, "we're talking to personnel today and tomorrow on the entire roster. Obviously, there's some moves we have to make with league rules. We're looking at the week going into Cleveland, but then also just building our own depth on all parts of the roster. In terms of bringing some players in, we're looking at guys at all positions around the league. There's going to be a lot of guys that are available, so it's our job to do our due diligence to make sure we know who's out there and available in the league."

Check out the best photos from the Giants' preseason opener against the New York Jets.

*Judge said he plans to take the Giants' injured players to Cleveland.

"The purpose being going out there and letting them do some of their rehab and recovery while we're out there either at Cleveland's facilities or on the field while we're practicing, so that will be the plan right now," Judge said. "If something changes or someone has a unique situation that could include a person, two people, whatever may come up right now that we don't have listed as an issue. But as we go through medical meetings today and tomorrow, that's something we'll have to address."

Judge was asked specifically about rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney, the team's first-round draft choice who was not in uniform last night due to an undisclosed injury.

"All plans are to have him out there," Judge said. "There's no conversations at this point of anything different. That will be the same for all of our players. The only thing is if maybe some of these injuries coming out of the game, that may be something different for those players. In terms of everything prior to this game, the plan is to have all those players with us out in Cleveland."

*Judge said the football hierarchy would meet Sunday with the team's medical staff to determine the next step in Saquon Barkley's rehabilitation. The star running back returned to practice last Monday as he continues to work his way back from the knee surgery he underwent last October. Barkley did not play against the Jets.

"He responded well last week to the volume and the load," Judge said. "I thought the plan of putting him through a couple of days, backing him off, ramping him back up, so obviously they have a really good feel for his body working with him throughout these last few months through the rehab process. At this point, the focus is really to kind of get him moving more and more within the football movements.

"In terms of what that's going to mean for him this week in Cleveland, we'll have to wait and see. I wouldn't anticipate him being in any kind of live drills this week. As of this point, that would be the plan, but we'll see where it goes as we go on down further and further when his body is ready for all the football."

*Judge did not have a definitive update on quarterback Clayton Thorson, who was injured on the Giants' final offensive play when he was sacked in the end zone for a safety. Thorson threw a game-high 16 passes, completing five.

"We're going to wait to see what the doctors say about him," Judge said. "He spent time with the medical team today. We're going to find out his final status. Obviously, we'll make more of a decision on that. Hopefully it all comes out for the best, he's been working hard for us. If there's an injury at quarterback, we'll look to bring in an additional player to help us go ahead and function for the remainder of training camp or however long someone's out."

*Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari was the only one of the Giants' first five draft choices to play in the game.

"It was great," he said. "Finally got the opportunity to go out and compete against a different team. It was just great. It was a learning curve for me just continuing to go out there and get better. It was phenomenal."

Ojulari had just one tackle, but it was memorable. He escaped a block from 363-pound tackle Mekhi Becton, the Jets' 2020 first-round draft choice, to tackle rookie Michael Carter after a one-yard run.

"They called a play and I just tried to play my technique the best that I can," Ojulari said. "He's a big guy and I just tried to shed off of him and make a play. Just playing football."

Asked if Becton is the biggest offensive lineman he's ever faced, Ojulari said, "Yessir, he is. So far."

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