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Where things stand as we approach 4 p.m.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (34) is

Pittsburgh Steelers running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (34) is tackled by Giants strong safety Stevie Brown (27) and cornerback Prince Amukamara (20) on a run during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game. (Aug. 10, 2013) Credit: AP

With about an hour to go before free agency begins, the Giants are busily signing some of their own players to stick around.

So far they have agreed to terms with safety Stevie Brown, cornerback Trumaine McBride, running back Peyton Hillis and kicker Josh Brown.

The return of Stevie Brown, who is coming off ACL surgery, should give the Giants a pretty good group at safety. With Brown, Antrel Rolle and Will Hill, they should be able to play Perry Fewell’s three-safety look quite a bit. Last year in training camp, before Brown tore his ACL, the Giants wanted Brown to play more in the box and allow Rolle to float in the secondary. That could be the case again this year, especially is Brown has any residual effects from the knee surgery.

As for the other signings, Hillis is the biggest surprise to me. If things go according to play, he’ll be the number-three guy in the backfield behind David Wilson and whoever the Giants add in free agency. Right now it looks like Rashad Jennings of the Raiders is their first choice for that, but Oakland has enough money to spend that they will be able to better any offer the Giants make. Unless … the Raiders wind up trading for Darrelle Revis, as reports have them vying to do (with the Browns). That would eat up a lot of their cap space and could prevent them from topping any Giants offer. In which case, the likely pecking order in the backfield would be Wilson, Jennings, Hillis, and Michael Cox. If Wilson is unable to play, then you have Jennings and Hillis and the 1-2 combo.

The Giants are also vying for guard Geoff Schwartz in a big way and are still in pursuit of center Evan Deitrich-Smith. That would completely overhaul the interior of their line from 2013 (especially if Chris Snee returns anywhere close to form).

Meanwhile, there are reports that the Giants are also nosing around wide receiver James Jones, who, like Deitrich-Smith, played for the Packers under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

Things are going to get interesting this afternoon. Eventually the dust will settle. And, more than likely, we’ll have a good idea of what the 2014 Giants roster is going to look like at some very key positions.

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