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Curtis Riley, B.W. Webb earning spots in Giants' secondary

Giants defensive back B.W. Webb lines up against

Giants defensive back B.W. Webb lines up against the Browns at MetLife Stadium on Aug. 9. Credit: Daniel De Mato

The Giants started training camp with two openings in their secondary.

Those appear to have been filled.

Curtis Riley has played free safety with the starters for about a week straight since returning from a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the first preseason game. B.W. Webb was back at nickel cornerback in Sunday’s practice after getting a chance to play there with the first unit in Friday’s win over the Lions.

Webb is still adjusting to the role. He’s primarily played outside cornerback throughout his career and lined up there for the Giants in their preseason opener against the Browns.

“The coaches, they’ve been doing a good job staying on me,” Webb said. “I’ve just been trying to get better every day, talking to some older guys like [WILLIAM GAY]who have played the position at a high level for many years. Getting input from them is big.”

Interestingly enough, Gay was penciled in at the nickel spot when camp began. Now Gay has been playing some safety and Webb has taken a firm grasp on the inside corner job.

Riley appears to have locked down his job. His position is difficult to judge from the outside because he’s being graded as much by what he thinks and says on the field as he is on the plays he makes.

“It’s about communication, knowing what you’re supposed to do, knowing where to put other people,” he said.

How did that go against the Lions in Riley’s first preseason game action?

“I did great,” he said. “I know the defense, so it’s just being in tune to what’s going on with the shifts and everything.”

Nickel cornerback, as opposed to that free safety spot, is a much more visual position. Not all cornerbacks welcome that move to the inside. Webb said playing there is all about being confident and relaxed.

“It comes with reps, and the more reps you get, the more comfortable you get,” he said. “You have to see things in there. The more you get a feel for it, then it turns out on the field. It’s a tough move. It’s a lot more thinking, a lot more things you have to see in the slot. You just have to be up for the challenge.”

If anyone can adjust to moving, it’s Webb. The Giants are his seventh NFL team in seven seasons.

After his rookie season with Dallas in 2013, he was with the Steelers in 2014 and the Titans in 2015. He made eight starts for the Saints in 2016, played one game with the Bears in 2017 before being waived, then was picked up by the Browns before they waived him without his ever seeing the field. He signed with the Giants during the offseason.

Now it seems he’s found a home. At least at this point in the preseason.

“He’s done a really good job covering,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “He covered pretty well outside against Cleveland and he’s done a nice job in the slot as well.”

Shurmur would not say if Webb has earned that important spot. “We’re still working through it,” he said of the competition.

As of now, though, it seems as if it is Webb’s job to lose. “Hopefully,” he said. “I’ve put a lot of work into it, done a lot of studying with it. I’m hoping that can be my role here to help out on the defense.”


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