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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Audition younger players? Don't count on it

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Once the postseason is no longer a feasible goal, some teams will use the final games of their season to play some of the younger, more inexperienced players on their roster to see how they're developing and whether they can be a part of the plans for the coming offseason. The New York Giants, who were eliminated from playoff contention Sunday, have no such plans.

"We’re going to try to play the best we can and win with the roster that we have," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday, clearly annoyed by the premise of the question. "If the opportunity is there, then so be it.  But that’s not going to be the No. 1 thought on our minds."

Tom Coughlin
Don't look for Giants coach Tom Coughlin to empty his bench during the season's last three weeks.
Coughlin and the Giants believe in developing players a certain way, and he mentioned that he's able to evaluate his bench players by watching them perform on special teams. He feels it's important to play the final three games of this season honestly and try to win all three of them, and he'll only alter his lineup if he believes the alteration is to that end.

"Those people who are playing have earned their right to play," Coughlin said.

He also asked for specific examples of players who might conceivably see more playing time for future-evaluation purposes, and several of the reporters in attendance obliged. Coughlin was asked about:

Tight end Adrien Robinson: "He was hurt for a long time. He’s practiced for a few weeks now. He did a nice job of being a scout squad tight end for Antonio Gates a week ago. He’s improved from that I can tell on special teams and if he can continue to improve, perhaps that opportunity will come."

Guard Brandon Mosley: "Well, he’s been the XO tight end, did a nice job with that the other day. Hopefully you noticed that. And again, if the opportunity presents itself, so be it. But who would you like me to take out? James Brewer is also getting playing time, if you haven’t noticed. He hasn’t had a whole lot of time and he’s getting playing time and he is responding, so I’d like to see Brewer continue to get better, too."

(Editor's note: The obvious answer from fans to "who would you like me to take out?" is right guard David Diehl. But it's obvious by this point that the Giants won't consider that.)

Quarterback Ryan Nassib's chances of being issued a uniform and joining the active roster one of these weeks, if not actually playing: "Not at this point in time. He’s done very well as a scout team player. He’s taking all these running quarterback roles and done a great job with it, played some safety, done a lot of good things. He’s a very good, very sharp kid. Works his tail off, knows what his spot is, he’s in that room with those guys and he’s like a sponge, that’s what the intent was."

So those are the answers in case you've been wondering. Nassib said he was going to play Russell Wilson on the scout team this week as the team gets ready for Seattle, and that's been his role for much of the year. It's unlikely to change, as the Giants obviously aren't going to sit down starter Eli Manning and Curtis Painter has been working as the backup all year and would therefore deserve first crack at the job even if they did.

Basically, the Giants believe they have a means of developing their back-of-the-roster players and evaluating that development. It's tough to figure out which guys they view as actual prospects and which they view as roster-filler. But it's tough when the players in question don't play. Brewer, for instance, was supposed to have been a worthy starter by this point but doesn't appear to be one. The Giants have a lot of offensive line questions to answer in the offseason, and it would be interesting to see what they have in someone like Mosley. But they're not going to weaken their chances to win one of these games just to see someone like Mosley in a game. That's not the way they do it.