They’ve been the most impressive and interesting group throughout training camp. The young receivers on the back end of the depth chart have been making impressive catches, showing their collective athleticism and fighting for roster spots ever since the Giants opened their preseason program two and a half weeks ago.
And yet when the Giants took the field for their first game of the exhibition season on Friday, they were nowhere to be seen. While Ryan Nassib was running for his life behind a lackluster second- and third-string offensive line, there were very few opportunities for him to throw the ball decisively and allow those receivers to flash as they have been during practices. The Giants had just one pass play of 20 or more yards and just nine completed passes in the entire game. Nassib completed three passes on the opening drive with the starters, then just four over the rest of the first three quarters.
“That’s tough,” Ben McAdoo said. “I need to do a better job of getting those guys an opportunity. That’s my responsibility. We didn’t get enough balls in the air to them, and we need to take care of that this week. We need to give those guys a chance to make plays.”
In other words, when the Giants face the Bills on Saturday, expect the Giants to air it out.
“We didn’t fare too well passing-wise as far as production, so this game will be a big test for us,” receiver Myles White told Newsday. “I don’t know necessarily what the gameplan is yet, but I’m sure there’ll be a little bit more emphasis on it to see who can do what and where.”
“It excites me a lot,” rookie receiver Roger Lewis said in response to McAdoo’s quote. “If Nassib throws the ball more that’s more touches for us. I like to showcase my talents on offense.”
He and others have been doing just that during practices. Lewis caught two passes in a two-minute drill with the first team in Monday’s practice, including a touchdown of about 25 yards on a throw from Eli Manning over cornerback Donte Deayon. Fellow rookie receiver Antony Dable made a pair of nice catches in traffic as well. White has made some key catches, as have K.J. May, Tavarres King and, before he was injured in Friday’s game, Geremy Davis.
That doesn’t even include star Odell Beckham Jr. and second-round pick Sterling Shepard.
“I think the receiver group is fairly decent,” McAdoo said of the roster. “We are young there at some spots, but I think we have some good depth there.”
Now he’d like to show some of it to the world. If he can.
“There’s a lot of factors involved,” White said. “It’s a team sport. And there are other ways to get involved as a receiver.”
White, for instance, pointed to his run blocking. Lewis returned a kickoff on special teams, something he said he hasn’t done since high school. That’s not what they want to be relegated to during a preseason when they aren’t only trying to make the Giants roster but also put together strong game film in case they are cut from the Giants and need another team to give them a shot. Big catches are what provide that, as strong preseasons have shown in recent years going back to Victor Cruz’s rookie season in 2010 all the way up to Corey Washington who made the team in 2014 based on his preseason touchdowns.
White isn’t as young as some of the others he’s competing with. This is his fourth NFL training camp, so he already has a reel to shop around the league if he has to. Still, he wouldn’t mind adding to his clips this summer. Eventually.
“Obviously as a competitor and someone who likes making plays you want that opportunity, but they’ll come,” White said. “You just have to be patient.”
On Saturday the Giants would like that patience will be rewarded.