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Cover 3: Giants get 'clear' look at roster vs. Browns


The crew reacts to the team's week in Cleveland, which included two joint practices and Sunday's preseason game.

John Schmeelk: With the Giants resting so many of their starters in the game on Sunday afternoon, let's focus on the practices. There was a vast improvement in the Giants' offensive performance from the first to the second practice.

The offense had trouble getting into any sort of rhythm on Thursday. The protection was up-and-down. There passing game was inconsistent, whether in 1-on-1's, 7-on-7's or in the final two-minute period at the end of practice.

The second day of practice was the polar opposite. The protection vastly improved with strong performances from the Giants' young offensive line. Giants receivers dominated the team, 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 red zone drills. The Giants looked like they had won the day against one of the most talented teams in the NFL.

It may have been more productive to see them go up against the likes of Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, Denzel Ward and Takkarist McKinely, but a team can only compete with the opponent presented to them. The Giants more than met the challenge they faced.

The team's pass rush was impressive throughout both days of practice. The combination of Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Azeez Ojulari and Trent Harris put consistent pressure on the quarterback off the edge. Leonard Williams was dominant inside at Friday's practice.

When the Giants left their join practices against the Bengals towards the end of the Tom Coughlin era, one could feel concerned about their ability to compete with the better teams in the NFL. Following Friday's practice, there was more confidence that the team is in a good place heading into the regular season.

Check out the best photos from the Giants' preseason contest against the Cleveland Browns.

Dan Salomone: Joe Judge and his staff thought the starters took enough quality reps in joint practices to rest them for the second preseason game. It set the table for players like Oshane Ximines and do-it-all receiver Matt Cole, who played offense, defense, and special teams, to prove themselves.

Judge said the game against the Browns gave them a "clearer picture" about the roster going into New England, where the Giants will treat the third and final preseason outing almost like a regular season game week. Teams have until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 31 to finalize their 53-man rosters, and although they won't make all their decisions before Sunday night's game against the Patriots, they will have everything "as narrowed down as possible."

"As we get these guys ready to go next week, we know it's going to be a hard work week that simulates a regular season week and having a competitive practice session with Patriots," Judge said of the second round of joint practices. "It was the best thing for the health of the team (to rest the starters against the Browns], and it also gave us an opportunity to really evaluate a lot of guys on the roster. We have to make sure that we have as clear a picture as possible to give them a fair evaluation."

Lance Medow: It's never a bad thing when you can squeeze in a few practices against an unfamiliar opponent leading into a preseason game and that proved to be beneficial for the Giants this week, especially for the bulk of the starters, who didn't play in Sunday's game. Over the course of training camp, when you constantly go up against your teammates, it becomes routine for some players and they tend to get a better feel for their teammates' tendencies. That's not case when you go up against a team like the Browns, so it served as yet another means for the coaching staff to evaluate the roster. The practices were competitive and provided the Giants with different looks requiring adjustments.

As far as the game, backup quarterback Mike Glennon looked much more comfortable in this outing - especially on an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter. He completed all six of his passes en route to the score. The battle for the final or last two wide receiver spots is clearly heating up. Whether it was on offense or special teams, C.J. Board, David Sills, Dante Pettis and Damion Willis made plays. Sills had a contested touchdown grab, which was significant because it showed the tough plays he's been making in practice can translate to games.

Of all the receivers, it's fair to say Matt Cole stood out the most and that's because he continues to showcase his versatility. He contributed to all three facets of the team and even took snaps at corner, which he hadn't played since high school. If you're going to make the back end of the roster and earn a jersey on game day, then Cole is the exact image of a player you'd want in the mix. Given some of the injuries (Madre Harper, Quincy Wilson) that have piled up in the secondary, the Giants may need to turn to another player at that spot.

When it comes to the more conventional defensive players, Carter Coughlin seems to be getting more and more comfortable playing on the inside. He bounced back from an early pass interference call in coverage to record four tackles and a sack. Defensive lineman David Moa, linebacker Trent Harris and pass rusher Oshane Ximines were also active. The latter recorded a sack, which was good to see considering he's missed the bulk of last season and is entering an important third year in the league. For some of these players, this was their last chance to make a statement in a game setting because the starters are expected to see the majority of the work in the third preseason game as they gear up for Week 1 against the Broncos.

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