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Mailbag: O-line, number of running backs on roster

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Jim in Texas: Do you believe that offensive line will rise to a level that will provide Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones the chance to max out their production this season?

John Schmeelk: It is possible. We are about to get some evidence as to whether or not it is going to happen. The Giants' offensive line could feature five starters that have no more than three years worth of playing time. It's possible four of the five starters will have fewer than 20 career starts under their belt when the regular season starts. It means there is a lot of room for internal improvement as offensive linemen tend to take their biggest jumps in Years 2-4.

Improvement is not guaranteed and we will soon see how the group will perform after an off-season of training and two new coaches working with the group (Rob Sale and Pat Flaherty). Padded practices will give some indication, but everyone will learn even more when the Giants play in their first preseason game Aug. 14 against the Jets and then travel to Cleveland to scrimmage against the Browns. The Browns have two elite edge players in Myles Garrett and Jadaveon Clowney.

Paul in North Carolina: The Giants are currently carrying eight running backs on their roster for obvious reasons. How many do you feel they will keep on the 53-man roster and who do you feel will make the cut?

John Schmeelk: Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker are going to be on the roster. The answers get murkier after that, especially when you consider the fullback position. If Eli Penny wins the fullback spot, it is also possible the Giants utilize him as the emergency third running back on game days. Let's say the Giants will have four combined running backs and fullbacks on the roster. They will want to start the season with some added insurance since Barkley is returning from injury.

Let's go with Penny winning the fullback spot over Cullen Gillaspia, though that prediction may change after the preseason games. But who will be the third halfback? Alfred Morris is a Jason Garrett favorite, but the team probably thinks they can sneak him onto the practice squad under the expanded rules put in place for COVID. Gary Brightwell is also someone that could get through waivers and onto the practice squad. For that reason, go with Corey Clement winning the final halfback spot to join Barkley, Booker, and Penny.

Brian in Rhode Island: Other than injuries, is there a particular reason that John Ross has had little production in the NFL? Nearly 20 percent of his catches are touchdowns (51 catches for 10 TDs), which is a great ratio.

John Schmeelk: It has really just been the injuries.

Cliff in New York: With all the new weapons on offense, do we still need read-option runs for Daniel Jones? I'd like to see him on the field as much as possible, even though it's fun to see him outrun people.

John Schmeelk: There's no way to know on exactly which play he suffered the hamstring injury last year, but there were first indications of an issue after a scramble. Jones' threat to keep it on read-options helped open up the run game since defenses had to account for all 11 players on a running play. The threat of Jones keeping it can hold a weak-side defender for a just a second or two, which can be valuable.

There is also a way to use it judiciously. The threat only needs to be there, and that threat can be made plausible by him keeping it only a couple of times a game. On those plays, Jones needs to slide or get out of bounds.

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