Competitions on Giants' overhauled roster coming into focus

Giants lack of offensive weapons, benefits Barkley (1:40)

Matthew Berry outlines how the Giants' lack of offensive weapons could benefit Saquon Barkley fantasy managers. (1:40)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Following two weeks of practices and a preseason game, it's a good time to check in on the battles at each position for this revamped New York Giants roster. Here's a breakdown:


Quarterback: Eli Manning has looked good this summer. He has thrown the ball well and limited the mistakes. But he's also not throwing it downfield with regularity. He didn't pull the trigger on his one pass attempt Thursday night against the Jets despite tight end Rhett Ellison having eight yards of separation, per NextGen stats.

Rookie Daniel Jones has experienced some ups and downs at training camp. Not so much in his preseason debut, when he was perfect. "There weren't any incompletions. I'd say that's a pretty good job," coach Pat Shurmur said. Jones' ball placement was especially eye-opening. He also hasn't been shy about throwing the ball downfield, where his touch and accuracy have been dynamite.

The battle for third quarterback is interesting. Kyle Lauletta started the summer slowly off knee surgery but played well in the preseason opener, even when his headset went out and he was calling his own plays. Alex Tanney also had a strong performance.

Running back: Saquon Barkley is, well, Saquon Barkley. Believe it or not, he looks bigger and more explosive going into his second season. He should only get better.

It’s a fight for the spots behind Barkley. Nobody stood out much early in camp or in the preseason opener against the Jets. No Giants back averaged more than 2.6 yards per carry and Paul Perkins fumbled and dropped a pass in his first game in almost two years. Wayne Gallman is likely the leader in the clubhouse to be the backup but the Giants are building a power run game, which suits Rod Smith, whom they seem to like.

Fullback: Elijhaa Penny is the only option on the roster. He's had a strong offseason and summer. He showed again Thursday night that he catches the ball especially well out of the backfield. Penny is valuable in that he can also serve as insurance because he's a converted running back with excellent mobility and hands.

Wide receiver: Golden Tate looks like he still has something left despite a down season. He just might not be available the first four games this season. Thankfully Sterling Shepard (broken thumb) should be back. He's pretty much been practicing in full, considering the yellow jersey hasn't stopped Manning from throwing the ball in his direction. When they're both on the field, you can see why the Giants like the idea of Tate and Shepard running those endless crossing routes in Shurmur's offense. Lots of opportunity for yards after the catch, Tate's specialty. Shepard also has looked sneaky explosive.

Cody Latimer is next in line at wide receiver. He's likely to start Week 1 if Tate's suspension is upheld. Latimer has been consistently making plays at practice, and he has the ability to get downfield. Bennie Fowler has also had a strong summer and should be in consideration for playing time.

Russell Shepard and Alonzo Russell have been Jones' favorite targets while Darius Slayton hasn't practiced much because of a hamstring injury. But TJ Jones has quickly made an impact, at practice and in the preseason opener. He had six catches on six targets for 72 yards and a touchdown against the Jets. He also returned punts. Jones could easily find his way onto the roster ... and find playing time early in the season. Local product Reggie White has shown enough ability to create separation and make plays that he could land on the practice squad.

Tight end: Evan Engram looks as explosive as ever. He's going to be the big-play receiver. He's so valuable the Giants kept him in bubble wrap for their preseason opener. It's obvious Ellison is also going to be a big part of the offense. The Giants used two tight ends on two of their three plays with the first-team offense on Thursday night. That set is a regular at practices. That's why Scott Simonson fits into the mix. He has made plays throughout the summer and his blocking is an asset. He's being pushed by rookie C.J. Conrad, who has been a revelation with his blocking and receiving. Even Garrett Dickerson's had a nice camp. The Giants are deep at tight end. It might be their best and most talented position.

Offensive line: The starting unit has been (from left to right) Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Jon Halapio, Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers. Halapio is competing with Spencer Pulley to be the starting center, but it would be a surprise if he didn't win the job. Halapio has been playing well and fits their power approach.

Behind them, Chad Slade has showed well and has versatility at guard and tackle. Chad Wheeler was the swing tackle before being slowed by a back injury. Nick Gates has flashed potential and could win a roster spot as a backup guard. Evan Brown struggled against the Jets at guard.


Defensive line: The Giants have used first-round pick Dexter Lawrence primarily as a defensive end rather than at nose tackle. That has been a bit of a surprise considering he's listed at 342 pounds. But his athleticism and mobility have also demanded attention. Men that large aren't supposed to move that well. That has left Dalvin Tomlinson as the nose tackle with B.J. Hill, off a strong rookie season, as the other end. It's a big unit that should hold up well against the run.

Olsen Pierre has looked good as a pass-rusher but the Giants are going to need RJ McIntosh or Chris Slayton to step up before the summer is over.

Inside linebacker: Alec Ogletree is slated to start in the middle but his coverage ability remains average, at best. The Giants are looking strongly at Tae Davis (a converted safety) and fifth-round pick Ryan Connelly to fill the void as his inside linebacker partner. Both played well in the preseason opener, tying for the team lead with five tackles apiece. That leaves B.J. Goodson, who played with the third team against the Jets, potentially on the outside looking in. Josiah Tauaefa remains an intriguing prospect. He has flashed at times and always seems to be around the ball.

Outside linebacker: Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter started against the Jets. The pressure was limited as quarterback Sam Darnold marched the Jets down the field. That shouldn't ease what was already a concern. Carter has shown flashes in camp while the Giants have played it extremely cautiously with Golden, not exactly inspiring confidence, considering it has been a year and a half since his knee injury. Kareem Martin worked with the second-team defense in the preseason opener and his role appears to be shrinking. Third-round pick Oshane Ximines has been especially impressive throughout training camp, but he was quiet in the preseason opener.

A name to watch: Terrence Fede has stood out since joining the team last week. He even got work with the first-team kickoff unit in the preseason opener. Definitely notable, especially with Avery Moss starting the summer strong before being sidelined recently with an injury. The clock might be ticking on Moss' time with the Giants.

Cornerback: Janoris Jenkins hasn't been great this summer but he's a proven commodity. The veteran will be judged by the regular season. Deandre Baker is entrenched as the starter on the opposite side and has the look of an eventual high-end starter, though he suffered a knee sprain Sunday, according to the team. Even if the injury isn't a major setback, it might be a struggle for him as a rookie (some days have been better than others at camp). However, you can tell Baker is a player, with his physicality and toughness popping on a regular basis. That physicality could lead to some penalties as a rookie, though.

Grant Haley has a shoulder injury but is clearly their best nickel corner. Julian Love has played mostly the nickel and safety. That will be his role as a rookie, although he's had trouble early on sticking with receivers.

Sam Beal was a third-round supplemental pick last year but can't stay on the field. He hasn't practiced in weeks because of a groin/hamstring injury. This might make for a tough decision. Ronald Zamort and Henré Toliver, just back from injury, have shown some good things and could be in the mix.

Safety: The Giants are banking on Jabrill Peppers to be a playmaker near the line of scrimmage. It is obvious watching practice he's a freak athlete. The question is whether he's going to be great. Having Antoine Bethea alongside him is comforting. Bethea has looked like a true pro with something left in the tank this summer.

Veteran Michael Thomas is also having a strong camp and played well in the preseason opener. Don't be surprised to see him on the field plenty in three-safety looks once the regular season arrives. Second-year safety Sean Chandler, meanwhile, continues to show that he can play. The Giants' coaches have been impressed. Kenny Ladler has also made some noise, especially in the preseason opener against the Jets with four tackles.

Special teams: Right now Peppers is the punt returner and Latimer does kickoffs. TJ Jones could enter the mix on punts and Ballentine on kicks. The Giants are set at kicker with Aldrick Rosas and punter Riley Dixon has done well this summer, likely retaining his job. But Ryan Anderson has opened some eyes and appears to have a place in the league, whether it's with the Giants or another team.