Shane Smith undoubtedly is thrilled to have made it through cutdown day to remain a member of the Giants.
He’s not the only one.
While the undrafted rookie fullback can celebrate his achievement, his teammates also are glad that the Giants are filling a key position that was vacant last season. The Giants did not carry a fullback in 2016, and it was a season-long drain on the offense.
“He’s done a great job,” running back Orleans Darkwa said last week. “Having him there, we’ve been able to get a lot of holes open. It’s been going on the whole preseason and in training camp. To see his presence felt on goal-line opportunities and in short yardage, he’s done a tremendous job.”
Guard Justin Pugh said it is “huge” to have a fullback. “It allows you to get in different personnel,” he said.
Smith not only is an undrafted rookie but a player who did not receive any Division I scholarship offers coming out of high school (he attended San Jose State), did not attend the NFL Combine and plays a position that often is considered antiquated in pro football.
“We wanted to take the best 53 and not be concerned about which position they play,” Ben McAdoo said of the roster decisions made Saturday. “It just happens to be he’s a fullback.”
Or perhaps more. “He really fits in well with the tight end group as far as his skill set,” McAdoo said. “He can do a variety of things for us on special teams and on offense. It adds another piece to your board. You can move him around. He has some flexibility.”
The Giants made 28 roster moves Saturday to get to 53 players by the 4 p.m. deadline. While many were expected, a few were mildly surprising.
The Giants released defensive end Devin Taylor, a free-agent acquisition in the offseason, and kept homegrown defensive ends Kerry Wynn and Romeo Okwara to back up Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. They waived popular rookie wide receiver Travis Rudolph, who had an impressive preseason after injuries sidelined Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Tavarres King. After trading up to select offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty in the sixth round of this year’s draft, they waived him and hope to bring him back on the practice squad. They kept undrafted rookie tackle Chad Wheeler ahead of him.
And in perhaps the most meaningful preseason position battle that could be rendered meaningless in the regular season, the Giants released quarterback Josh Johnson and kept Geno Smith as Eli Manning’s primary backup.