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Cover 4: What we learned about the Giants


The crew reacts to Sunday night's 25-22 preseason victory over the Cincinnati Bengals:

John Schmeelk: You can tip your cap to the Giants' offensive line and coaches Bobby Johnson and Tony Sparano Jr. Aside from starters Andrew Thomas, Mark Glowinski and Evan Neal, the Giants had to play a bunch of players with virtually no experience or players who were playing a position they were not accustomed to.

It would have been completely understandable if the unit was non-functional, which would have made the offense disjointed. It didn't happen. The Bengals only had a 28% pressure rate, which put the protection in the top half of the league in the second week of the preseason. Max Garcia was the team's sixth-string center but he stepped in and looked like a seasoned player at the position. Will Holden, a tackle by trade, had to play center in the second half and was part of three 60+ yard scoring drives.

Roy Mbaeteka, a rookie from Nigeria via the NFL's International Pathway Program, has played organized football for about five minutes - and gave the team 29 snaps. Devery Hamilton is a tackle but stepped in as the starting left guard and allowed only one hurry in 32 pass protection snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. Chris Owens was on the roster for two days before stepping and being the Giants' highest-graded pass blocking offensive lineman by PFF.

It was a great job all-around by everyone that works with the offensive line. So maybe there is something to take away for the regular season? If this coaching staff can get good play out of a group beset by injuries like the offensive line was on Sunday night, it could portend good things when the team has to deal with injuries and short-handed position groups throughout the regular season.

Dan Salomone: Rookie linebackers were a major story of the night, whether they wanted to be or not. Kayvon Thibodeaux, the fifth overall pick, brought the game to a standstill early in the second quarter when his leg bent awkwardly on a hit by tight end Thaddeus Moss. Thibodeaux grabbed his right knee and did not immediately get up, prompting the medical team to send the cart for the promising edge rusher. Although he ended up not needing the ride, the focus of the preseason game shifted toward his status. On Monday, the Giants announced Thibodeaux has a sprained MCL and is considered "day to day" as he begins his rehab.

The 2022 draft class took another blow when inside linebacker Darrian Beavers suffered a knee injury and did not return. The sixth-round pick from Cincinnati and Dick Butkus Award finalist had been competing for a starting spot, flashing his potential with three tackles (one for loss) in the preseason opener. Tests revealed that he suffered a torn ACL.

Now for the positive news about the rookie backers.

Micah McFadden, a fifth-rounder from Indiana, led the team with five tackles, but it was an undrafted rookie who sealed the victory. With Cincinnati in Giants territory and needing a field goal to tie the game with 10 seconds to go, Tomon Fox stopped Trenton Irwin in his tracks. The collision forced the receiver to lose the ball, which defensive back Olaijah Griffin recovered - just six days after being claimed off waivers from the Bills.

View photos from the home preseason opener between the Giants and Bengals at MetLife Stadium.

Lance Medow: Rookie linebacker Darrian Beavers tore his ACL and is out for the season, swinging the door open for fellow rookie Micah McFadden, who has already shown some flashes through the first two preseason games and led the team in tackles against the Bengals with five. McFadden is an intriguing player because he piled up 12.5 sacks in his last two seasons at Indiana and was asked to blitz a lot in college, which fits well with Wink Martindale's system. Martindale has emphasized the interior linebacker jobs are wide open and with Beavers now sidelined, McFadden could very well make a push up the depth chart.

On offense, wide receiver David Sills is the player to watch. He had been slowed by injury during training camp and didn't play in the first preseason game, but made the most of his snaps vs. Cincinnati with five receptions for 56 yards. He showed great chemistry with Daniel Jones, which shouldn't be a surprise considering Sills has been on the practice squad and/or active roster since 2019. The former West Virginia quarterback and wideout has a knack for making contested catches thanks to his 6-3 frame. The Giants already showcase some size in the receiving corps with Kenny Golladay and Collin Johnson, but Sills' athleticism sets him apart from the rest of the group. There's a lot of depth at the position but if Sills can prove durable down the stretch of camp, he may be able to carve out a role for himself and give the coaches something to think about.

Matt Citak: The offense made some strides in the win over the Bengals and the receivers stood out.

The discussion starts with Alex Bachman, who put together his strongest performance as a Giant. He led the game with 11 receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns, including seven catches for 84 yards and the scores on the final two drives. He had six catches for first downs, forced three missed tackles, registered four explosive plays of 15+ yards and added 53 yards after the catch. After the game, Bachman told reporters that consulted with former Bills WR Cole Beasley during the off-season to learn more about playing the slot in Brian Daboll's offense.

"I just picked his brain around different things and what he's looking for and how to run one route 10 different ways because sometimes you're going to run and the same plays are going to be called, and you've got to make it look different for the defense," Bachman said about his conversations with Beasley. "So, I've been learning more about how route running can turn into a chess game really, I can give one look and set it up for the next one."

David Sills finished second on the team with five receptions for 56 yards while Collin Johnson registered three receptions for 41 yards, all of which occurred in the first half. Keelan Doss made a nice one-handed catch to finish with three receptions for 34 yards. The running backs also played a big role in the passing game Sunday, as Antonio Williams and Jashaun Corbin combined to catch 11 passes for 61 yards.


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