- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Examining the New York Giants' 53-man roster after the first three weeks of training camp:
The Giants didn't like carrying three quarterbacks last season. They did so because they drafted Nassib as a fourth-round project with the thought that he wouldn't be active for any games as a rookie. But this year, they've come out and said Nassib needs to win the No. 2 job. He's worked as the clear No. 2 ahead of Curtis Painter all offseason, and I think he'd have to fall flat on his face to lose the job. If Manning goes down, the Giants are cooked anyway, whether it's Painter or Nassib behind him. So they might as well keep developing the kid unless he's totally incompetent.
RUNNING BACKS (4)
Hillis' sprained ankle could open a spot for Kendall Gaskins to make the team if it lingers, or it could prompt the Giants to look outside for running back help. Expect Williams to keep getting looks all preseason, as they'd love for him to emerge as a clear No. 2 who can spell Jennings when Jennings needs a break.
It's a camp battle between Hynoski and John Conner, but the Giants won't keep both. And they've been lining up tight ends in the backfield enough early in camp that you start to wonder whether they'll keep a fullback at all. If they do, my hunch is that Hynoski has shown enough ability to produce with the ball in his hands that he'll get the edge in Ben McAdoo's new offense ahead of Conner as long as Hynoski is healthy.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Finally dropped Mario Manningham off this week, as I honestly don't see how they can keep him. His knee is obviously not right. He's rarely on the field, and when he is he's running very slowly. He'd have to make a remarkable improvement over the next three or four weeks to get the spot, and Harris has been as good as any receiver in camp so far. Washington has scored touchdowns in each of the first two preseason games and could be tough at this point to sneak onto the practice squad. At this point, Preston Parker seems more likely than Manningham to make the team if they carry six wide receivers.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
This is a big change this week. The Giants absolutely want to carry four tight ends. That is their ideal scenario, as their ideal offense would use the tight end liberally. But we saw fewer multiple-tight-end sets Saturday, and I think the reason is that they're starting to come to grips with the personnel deficiencies at that position. Why carry four tight ends and five wide receivers when your receivers are good and your tight ends aren't? So I took Adrien Robinson off this week because, honestly, he hasn't done a thing. Fells is hurt, and if he stays hurt, his spot could open up for Robinson. But Donnell was the clear No. 1 tight end Saturday, with Davis right behind him. None of them does anything to fire you up, and it remains possible they get help from outside the organization before it's all said and done.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
There are injury and health concerns with Beatty and Jerry, but both have been on the field a bit early -- Beatty more so than the team expected. The Giants signed Brown and Jerry as veteran backups. They like Mosley's upside, and right now he's running with the first team at right guard, though he hasn't looked as physically strong as they'd like. The news Friday that Eric Herman is suspended for the first four games for a drug violation opens a spot for Brewer, though there are clearly others who could beat him out for it. The team also could decide to go with eight offensive linemen while it waits for Herman, who's been working as a backup guard and center.
DEFENSIVE LINE (9)
Patterson and Jenkins project as starters at defensive tackle right now, though Patterson has missed a bunch of time lately with a shoulder injury. Hankins could overtake him as a starter, or they cold use Kuhn and Hankins in the rotation behind the starters.
Kennard has been so good so far that, if they only keep five, you wonder about Paysinger's spot a little bit. Williams is the starter at the weakside spot, even in the base defense, as long as he can stay healthy. And Kennard is a first-teamer right now on the strong side, with McClain manning the middle in place of the injured Beason. I wonder if Kennard could keep the spot ahead of McClain even once Beason comes back. Herzlich is on the squad for special teams, where he has great value.
It helps the numbers that Jayron Hosley will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season for a drug violation. If he does make the team, the Giants will have to clear a spot for him in Week 5. This group could also swell if the Giants decide they need to keep sixth-round pick Bennett Jackson and/or Charles James for special teams. It's going to be tough to make the Giants' roster as a corner this summer.
It's going to be tricky to get fifth-round pick Berhe on this roster, but the Giants like him enough to make room at the expense of someone like Brewer on the offensive line or Charles James at cornerback.
The kicker competition between Brown and Brandon McManus has fizzled a bit due to McManus' struggles with field goals in practice. The preseason games still could help decide this, but at this point there's no reason for the Giants to move away from Brown, who was a good kicker for them last year.