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Final cuts await Giants' Joe Judge in his first year as head coach

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge during

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge during a scrimmage at MetLife Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Jim McIsaac

At the beginning of training camp, when the Giants had 80 players on their roster, Joe Judge told them what he wanted to see from them in order to make the regular-season team.

“Real simple,” he said. “Do your job to the best of your ability and put the team first in every decision you make. It’s that simple. We don’t have to overcomplicate it…It’s not easy to play in this league, but it is simple.”

Now is when things get more complex. This is the weekend when the coaches and front office must trim their roster to 53 players by 4 p.m. on Saturday, then decide if they will claim any players cut by other teams on waivers by 2 p.m. on Sunday, all while trying to assemble a 16-man practice squad that will serve as the first line of reinforcements against any sudden injuries or positive COVID-19 tests. Because it will take up to five days for a player from outside the organization to clear protocols and even get inside the building, having a functioning practice squad this year will be more important than ever.

The goal for the players, though, is to make the team. The 53-man roster.

“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 who has looked sharp in practices but can’t be sure of his fate, said earlier this week. “But you can’t sit and focus on the what-ifs and what the future holds … 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.”

They call this process “final cuts.” It’s really a first draft, especially this season.

“You can’t build a roster for any one game,” Judge said. “The thing you have to keep in mind is there are 16 games, multiple opponents. And throughout stretches you’re going to have opportunities to bring people up from the practice squad, you’re going to deal with injuries, you’re going to deal with sickness.”

Judge, when he spoke at the close of training camp’s final practice on Thursday, made it seem as if most of the hard decisions already had been made.

“We just want to make sure we do all of our diligence to get every player the right evaluation, to think long-term in terms of what this team is going to be like throughout the season, what meets our needs, where our depth is,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of leg work on the front end, giving everybody a fair opportunity every day. We just want to make sure we take our time to review everything and make sure we make the right decisions.”

Come Monday, he’ll be surrounded by those decisions. That’s when the Giants — whoever that includes at the time — will assemble and start preparing for the Steelers.

Maybe it is that simple.

Ryan in, Sills out. Defensive back Logan Ryan passed his physical and officially signed with the Giants on Friday. The Giants agreed to terms with him on Monday. To make room for Ryan on the 80-man roster, the Giants placed WR David Sills on injured reserve with a fracture in his foot. Sills had a strong training camp and had a good chance to make the 53-man roster, but because his IR designation came before the roster was trimmed this weekend he is not eligible to return and the injury will be season-ending.

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