Giants searching for depth at wide receiver
The Giants know who their big three wide receivers will be going into the season: Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle.
After Saturday night's game against the Jaguars, they should have a better idea of who their next three are going to be.
With Cruz and Randle sidelined by injuries and Beckham likely to be somewhat limited just so he can remain healthy, the door will be open for the second tier players at the position to make their case for a roster spot and -- should injuries once again rear up at the position -- an opportunity to step into the starting offense.
The group includes veterans such as James Jones, Preston Parker and Dwayne Harris along with younger players like rookie Geremy Davis and second-year player Corey Washington. They're jostling for jobs, derbying on the depth chart, and trying to make as many plays as they can during this time when the stars are not on the field.
"It just gives me a chance to get out and work on my craft, and get a better understanding of the playbook, too," said Harris, a free agent acquisition from the Cowboys this offseason. "And get the feel with Eli [Manning] and how he works, and how he operates. It's a good feeling. It's good for me, it's good for my preparation, and it's good for Eli getting a feel for me."
Harris will make the team, the only thing that needs to be decided about him is whether he will be able to contribute to the offense or just be the special teams demon he was in Dallas. The others? It's a numbers game at the position and, quite frankly, the number isn't that high. It seems unlikely the Giants will keep more than six.
Four spots are already filled, barring some unforeseen injury situation in the next few weeks. The Giants like what they have seen from Jones, and having a veteran in the room will be a benefit, so that likely makes five. Which leaves just one opening up for grabs.
Washington made the team as an undrafted rookie last year but barely saw the field. He learned that when you are a reserve receiver you have to find other ways to contribute, and he has been working on that this summer.
"With the three receivers we've got in front of me -- Odell and Rueben and Vic -- I'm pretty sure the fourth receiver has to be a special teamer," Washington said. "That's what I'm aiming for, to be the fourth receiver. So, we'll see."
If it comes down to special teams, that could give Davis an edge besides his status as a draft pick. Lately, though, he's been working with the starters on offense and making some nice catches in practices.
"One of the things my coaches used to say in the past is, 'You want to never know that the starting guy is missing,' " Davis said. "So I'm trying to make sure I do that good of a job, that you can't even tell the difference. I'm just trying to fill in the role of some talented wide receivers, and just establish trust from the quarterbacks and just do my part."
That last receiver spot on the 53-man roster will likely come down to Washington or Davis. Or if both impress so much, perhaps one of the veterans will have to go.
"I'm just waiting to see when the season starts, to see if I made the 53-man roster and we'll go from there," Washington said.
However it shakes out, there seems little doubt that this game will weigh heavily in the decision. It's their chance to be a starter, even briefly.
"Once someone gets hurt, you're next in line," Davis said. "You never know, that second-string guy, if someone goes down in the first group, that preparation you did with second-string can help you out with first-string as well."