ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Lions capped their two-minute drill against the Giants’ defense on Tuesday with a touchdown pass from Matt Stafford to Marvin Jones Jr. in the end zone. Or did they?
While the completion counted in the context of a joint practice, where players were instructed to avoid as many collisions as possible, Giants safety Curtis Riley was in position to deliver a hit on Jones. And in a real game, he would have.
“Oh yeah,” he said, his eyes still wide open at the sight of the receiver jumping up in front of him. “Definitely a big collision.”
It’s the kind of hit that Riley will have to wait until Friday to make for the first time as a Giant. He missed the preseason opener against the Browns with a hamstring injury, but has returned to find himself the apparent leader in the battle for the starting free safety job. Tuesday marked the second straight practice that he’s played with the starters, and given the way the Giants have rotated players there, that’s about as entrenched as anyone has been.
Pat Shurmur didn’t go as far as to say Riley has won the job over a flock of competitors including Darian Thompson (sidelined by a hamstring himself), Michael Thomas, Andrew Adams and William Gay. But it’s clear Riley is heading in that direction.
“He’s playing well,” Shurmur said. “He was playing well prior to his hamstring deal, and now he’s getting back out there.”
Riley said he was ready to play against the Browns. He’d returned to practices in the days prior to the game. Now he’s likely to get his first game action Friday against these same Lions with a chance to solidify his spot atop the depth chart.
“I just have to come into it as a practice, same as practice,” Riley said. “Everything I do in practice is translated into the game… I just have to keep doing things consistently, doing everything that I’m doing right now. Have to make sure I’m making all the right calls, can’t go out there having any of these mental errors and stuff like that. Just have to be consistent, that’s the main thing.”
Two days in a row as the starter is about as consistent as anyone has been so far.
Pat Shurmur said LB Connor Barwin remains day-to-day with soreness. The veteran said he does not have a specific injury that has caused him to miss the past three practices and he hopes to return soon . . . The only apparent injury in the joint practice was to Lions starting center Graham Glasgow who had to be helped off the field . . . RB Wayne Gallman seemed shocked by the civility of the workout with an opponent. “We didn’t know what to expect with all the fighting and all those things that we heard about on the outside,” he said. “Everybody on the field was about their business, everyone was just doing their job, no one was trying to distract each other. Everyone was just sticking to what they were doing and getting the job done.”