EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants' most important work the next three days will not be on the football field but in offices and meetings rooms in the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
While the players will be off for the three-day Labor Day Weekend – except for their daily Covid-19 test – Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge must decide which players will comprise the team's initial 53-man roster and 16-player practice squad. They must remove 27 players from their roster to reach the limit by 4 p.m. Saturday (28 if defensive back Logan Ryan is added). The practice squad will be composed on Sunday.
"It'll be busy," Judge said today. "It's our responsibility as we've been working throughout camp, it's not the first time we're going to talk personnel. It's not going to be the first time we will have the specific conversations we're going to have over the next 48 hours. We just want to make sure we do all of our diligence to get every player the right evaluation, to think long-term in terms of what this team is going to be like throughout the season, what meets our needs, where our depth is.
"Ultimately, we're looking to keep as many good players in our program as possible. That's true for our 53-man roster, the practice squad, and whatever other means we have. It's going to be busy, but we've done a lot of leg work on the front end, giving everybody a fair opportunity every day. We just want to make sure we take our time to review everything and make sure we make the right decisions."
A reporter suggested to Judge that those judgments would be particularly difficult at wide receiver, where 11 players have lined up and everyone but newcomer Johnny Holton has made plays at some point. But the coach wouldn't bite.
"Every position is hard," Judge said. "We have to give consideration to what every player has done in camp. Everyone showed a level of improvement. We have to think long-term in terms of where this takes our team."
Each NFL team will have more players in its facility this season. Practice squads were expected to increase from 10 to 12 players this season. But because of the coronavirus pandemic and the necessity for teams to have more players available on short notice, they were expanded again to 16 players. Theoretically, a team can keep 69 of the 80 players it had in training camp.
Practice squad eligibility has also changed. In the past, a player could not be on a practice squad if he had more than three accrued seasons in the NFL. But the new rules enable teams to keep up to six players on the squad regardless of their service time.
Teams will be able to expand their gameday rosters from 53 to 55 players (48 active) by temporarily promoting players from their practice squads. At least one of the additional active players must be an offensive lineman.
The Giants open their season on Monday night, Sept. 14, at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"You can't build a roster for any one game," Judge said. "The thing you have to keep in mind is there are 16 games, multiple opponents. I think by nature, you build your roster most for your division initially. But that's going to change throughout the season. Throughout stretches, you're going to have opportunities to bring people up from the practice squad, you're going to deal with injuries, you're going to deal with sickness. A lot of things you're going to deal with throughout the year. Really, the biggest thing we're working on as far as building this roster is building the versatility on both sides of the ball, and that factors into the kicking game as well. If we have good versatility, that will allow for us to have multiple game plans and schemes so we can match opponents and deal with different situations we're going to face."
*The Giants concluded training camp today with a scrimmage in MetLife Stadium. The contact was light and the emphasis was on situational football. All four quarterbacks played (Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy, Cooper Rush and Alex Tanney).
"They've made a lot of progress this camp," Judge said. "I'm very proud with how they've worked on a daily basis. I couldn't tell you how pleased I am with their urgency, their attention to detail, and their willingness to work the way we want them to. That's key. They've been fun to coach. I look forward to keeping coaching these guys right here. Obviously, we're always looking for further improvement. You never arrive, you're never really where you want to be, no matter what level you're at. We're going to keep pushing, correcting from mistakes, emphasize where our strengths are and making sure we use those to create matchups in our favor. But I'm pleased on how they've worked in this training camp."
*During one drive, Jones was running to the sideline to get the play calls from offensive coordinator Jason Garrett – just in case electronic communication fails during a game.
"That was the practice today," Jones said. "Just trying to get ready for whatever could happen in the game and I thought we did a good job with it."
*The players' immediate future includes three days away from football.
"Based on rules and the off days, we'll see the players again on Monday," Judge said. "They'll have access to the facilities as far as treatment, meals and things like that. But as coaches, we'll see them all Monday. We'll have a squad meeting in a little bit to kind of close it out. Have a meal with these guys, cut them loose, let them get a little bit of rest. They're going to have to test on a daily basis still for the next few days, so they'll still be around.
"As coaches, we'll be around as well. We have a weekend worth of work to get going. But at the same time, I want to make sure the coaches get some time this evening and one of these days this weekend to see their families, sleep in a little bit, get some rest and kind of make sure we recharge before we go into a tough stretch."
*The Giants formally announced they have acquired cornerback Isaac Yiadom, which was first reported yesterday. They sent a seventh-round draft choice to the Denver Broncos for Yiadom, who is beginning his third NFL season.
View photos of the Giants' active roster as it currently stands.