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Giants begin evaluating roster with 53-man due in a week

Giants head coach Joe Judge adjusts his mask

Giants head coach Joe Judge adjusts his mask as he coaches his players during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Aug. 18. Credit: Brad Penner

Giants players had the day off on Saturday, but for many it may have been the most important day of their training camp. Maybe even their careers.

That was when the coaching staff and personnel department met to discuss the state of the roster with a week remaining until they must trim it to 53 names.

“We spent about six hours [Saturday] talking through the roster,” Joe Judge said on Sunday. “We really do that every week, at least once a week, especially after the scrimmages. But look, at this point, there’s a lot of things that can happen. There are a lot of guys who have left strong impressions. We want to make sure we take advantage of the remaining time to give everyone a fair shot and make sure we don’t overlook someone’s ability and make an assumption too quick.”

There isn’t much time left for players to make their cases. The Giants have practices on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, a scrimmage-like practice on Thursday at MetLife Stadium… and that’s it.

The process of shaping the roster for the regular season has already begun. On Saturday, the Giants added two experienced cornerbacks and had to waive two rookies. One of them, running back Javon Leake, had looked particularly promising. That didn’t help him.

“We thought with the way we kind of had to look at some spots on our roster and addressing different positions with depth, this time of year, there’s a lot of movement on the roster,” Judge said of the decision to part ways with Leake. “That’s kind of natural throughout the entire league. Look, he made a lot of progress for us. He did some good things, he did some good things the other night in the scrimmage. With the way the rosters move throughout the year, every player we have here through camp, we express to them that however the roster moves, we’ll have all of them on a list as far as possibly being brought back for roster or practice squad spots when available. He’s a guy that came in and worked his tail off for us. He made a lot of progress and I enjoyed coaching him.”

Judge will have to deliver that speech – stay in touch, stay in shape, thanks for everything, you never know – many times in the coming week. The players all hope they are not on the receiving end of it.

Those who have already experienced it are somewhat better equipped for the ritual of the days leading up to roster cuts.

“Right now I’m just taking it day by day,” said receiver David Sills, waived at the end of training camp last year by the Bills before being added to the Giants practice squad shortly afterward. “We have a practice (Monday) and I’m focused on putting my best foot forward… The only thing I can do is come prepared every day and the rest will fall where it needs to be.”

Others, though, find it difficult to ignore such a dramatic deadline.

“I’d be lying if I said that’s not something that sits in the back of your mind,” rookie linebacker Carter Coughlin, a seventh-round pick, said on Sunday. “But you can’t sit and focus on the what-is and what the future holds. All I know is that I’ve got today today and tomorrow I’ve got tomorrow and so forth. If I sit and focus on ‘Oh, I wonder how this weekend is going to go, I hope blah blah blah,’ then I’m not going to get anything done and I’m going to drive myself mad.”

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