- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Examining the New York Giants' 53-man roster after the first four weeks of training camp:
I'm sticking with Nassib as the No. 2 even though Curtis Painter was the No. 2 on Saturday. And no, I don't see them carrying three quarterbacks again. 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. He looked good during Saturday's fourth-quarter comeback, going 6-for-8 for a touchdown on the final drive.
RUNNING BACKS (4)
Hillis' sprained ankle could help Gaskins and Michael Cox make the team if it lingers, but if they're picking between Cox and Gaskins for that fourth spot, Gaskins looks like the better player so far in camp. Tom Coughlin also keeps saying that the fullbacks can play running back, and they have been using Henry Hynoski all over the formation in practice, so it's possible they could carry just three here, especially if they can get Gaskins on the practice squad.
It's a camp battle between Hynoski and John Conner, and I don't think the Giants will keep both. There was even some talk early in camp that they could go without a fullback, but the continued poor showing by the tight ends likely has put that to bed. Hynoski was lining up this past week in spots in the formation where they were trying tight ends earlier in camp, so he seems like the more likely guy to prove himself useful.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Again, earlier in camp it looked as though they wanted to keep four tight ends and five wide receivers. But again, the receivers have performed well and the tight ends haven't, and at some point it becomes about putting the best people on the team, right? Part of me feels as though it would be a cool story if undrafted Marcus Harris OR undrafted Corey Washington make the team, but that it's likely not a great sign if they BOTH make the team. Hoping for one "the next Cruz" is one thing, but hoping for two feels like a lot. However, if Washington is going to catch a touchdown pass in every preseason game, as he has so far, then it's tough not to keep him.
TIGHT ENDS (4)
I think the Giants are starting to come to grips with the personnel deficiencies at this position, and 2012 fourth-round pick Robinson was looking like the odd man out before he caught a couple of key passes Saturday night in the Nassib comeback. They need to see more from Robinson, but he's a favorite of GM Jerry Reese, who still believes he can blossom. Fells practiced a bit this past week after missing time with a knee injury, and he could push Donnell for the No. 1 spot if healthy. None of these guys 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 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. Saturday night's shoulder injury to Charles Brown also could alter the picture here.
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. I'm curious about newly-signed veteran defensive end Israel Idonije, especially because of his reputation as a special teamer. But he wouldn't take a spot from anyone on this list, which means they'd have to cut at another position (linebacker?) to get him on the team.
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, and while you may have read the DL blurb and be thinking that's a spot for Idonije, I don't think the Giants are interested in cutting Herzlich.
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.
Cooper Taylor's toe injury is serious enough to keep him out for a long time, possibly even the whole season. That's unfortunate for Taylor, but it helps Berhe and likely helps someone at another position, such as Charles James at cornerback or Adrien Robinson at tight end. The Giants like to have a balanced roster -- 25 offensive players, 25 defensive and three specialists -- but that's not a requirement.
Brown isn't home-free yet, as Brandon McManus is hitting bombs in practice and has shown well in games. But Brown hasn't done anything to lose his spot, and as long as he remains reliable, my bet is he keeps it.