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Author: Subject: Giants-Lions: Winners and losers in the Giants’ position battles

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Registered: 6-20-2018
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posted on 11-7-2018 at 07:24 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Giants-Lions: Winners and losers in the Giants’ position battles

The New York Giants soundly beat the Detroit Lions , of Friday night, never trailing after their second possession and winning, 30-17. But, as the coaches will be the first to tell you, the win-loss totals are not the point of preseason. Most of the time they aren’t even interested in the final score. Instead, preseason games are for marking the progress of the team as a whole, for coaches to try things out, and for position battles to be played out on the field. With two preseason games in the books, we can begin to draw trend lines and start to get a glimpse into the coaching staff’s thought process. And with that in mind, let’s check in on some of the Giants’ biggest position battles. Backup quarterbackThis wasn’t included in the battles last week, but after Davis Webb’s Week 1 performance, it is a position we have to keep an eye on.Winner: Davis Webb might be THE big winner for the Giants on the night. After a bad, unsettled performance against the Cleveland Browns, Webb got the start and looked composed, decisive, and accurate. He responded to the faith from the Giants’ coaching staff by slinging the ball all over the field with touch and accuracy, finishing with stat line of 14-for-20 (70 percent) for 140 yards and a touchdown. Webb had a few highlight plays, but this one stands out: Center: Jon Halapio vs. Brett JonesLast week I thought Brett Jones came away with the better performance — and the win. The Giants , apparently, disagreed and Halapio remained the starting center through the next week of practice. It is difficult to say whether either center established an advantage over the other. It did stand out that Halapio failed to snap the ball despite Webb calling for it, resulting in a delay of game penalty. Wide receiverThe Giants have a horde of young receivers and journeyman vets looking to carve out roles on the depth chart. These preseason games are important for all of them as they seek a place on both offense and special teams. WinnersCody Latimer - Latimer finally stepped up and showed why the Giants made him a free agent priority. He displayed great body control and subtle route running to create separation and make plays on the ball. Russell Shepard - Shepard showed solid concentration through coverage to make deep reception. Shepard didn’t have much separation, but in a crowded wide receiver room, being able to make a play despite being covered could be a difference maker.Kalif Raymond showed some upside as a returner, as well as some sharp route running and nice hands on a high pass over the middle.LosersHunter Sharp once again got the first team chances as the starting kick and punt returner, and struggled with ball security. He also failed to make an impression as a receiver, with one catch on two targets for no yards.CornerbackWho will man the slot corner position? Who will back up Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple? Are those players even on the roster right now? The Giants need answers to those questions by the final preseason game, and they got another set of data points against the Lions. WinnersB.W. Webb - Webb has showed a reassuring combination of veteran savvy and solid fundamentals. Last week he used the sideline as an extra defender to prevent a touchdown pass, this week he was solid as a sub-package defender with the first team and with the second team.LosersGrant Haley - The UDFA rookie struggled at the end of the game. He missed some tackles and played sloppier as the game wore on. He made a nice play to prevent a touchdown at the end of the fourth quarter. He showed that he is a rookie, but a rookie with some upside.Mike Jones - The Lions continually picked on Jones, a rookie who just signed a few days ago, resulting in several receptions and two pass interference penalties.SafetyWho is going to be the other starting safety beside Landon Collins? Curtis Riley has been that throughout the off-season, but the the Giants have featured a lively rotation of potential starters through camp. WinnersMichael Thomas - Thomas was, once again, all over the field. Not only did he make a nice play in coverage to prevent a touchdown, but he was active coming downhill in run defense.LosersDarian Thompson - Thompson is here not because of anything he did in the game, but simply by viture of being injured. He is ina fight for his job and you can make the team from the trainer’s table. Cam Newton and the Panthers are proving they can win without throwing the ball deep down the field.The 2015 league MVP has attempted 16 passes — and completed just three — that have travelled longer than 20 yards in the air this season , according the NFL's Next Gen stats. That's far fewer than most other NFL quarterbacks. Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes, for instance, has completed 17 of 42 passes beyond 20 yards, with eight of those going for touchdowns.Newton said the lack of vertical passing game isn't something he's concerned with entering Sunday's home game against the Ravens (4-3), especially with his team 4-2 this season."When you are moving the ball, people say why aren't you taking many shots downfield?" Newton said. "When you take too many shots downfield and it's not there and you start forcing the ball, they say why can't you protect the ball? So our thing is we turn our ears to mute and take what the defense is giving us. When we have opportunities to take shots down the field trust and believe nobody loves touchdowns more than I do — and if it's there I'm going to take it."Added Newton: "If not, you just live to fight another day."Coach Ron Rivera likes that approach, saying he is just fine with how Newton is playing. Newton has completed 11 touchdown passes this season and has four interceptions and has a solid 94.7 QB rating."I think the quarterback is very efficient with (the ball) right now," Rivera said. "There's no reason to panic."The formula seems to be working for the Panthers, who are winning games behind Newton's heroics.Three weeks ago against the Giants the eighth-year QB rallied Carolina back in the final seconds, leading a drive that set up Graham Gano's winning 63-yard field goal. This past Sunday Newton brought the Panthers back from a 17-0 deficit on the road against the Super Bowl champion Eagles with three TD drives to finish the game, earning him his 10th career NFC Offensive Player of the Week honor on Wednesday.Rivera said when the game is on the line Newton has the same mentality as Michael Jordan, a six-time NBA champion who many still consider the best basketball player of all time."He'll come up and say, 'Put it in my hands, coach. Trust me,'" Rivera said of Newton. "Michael Jordan used to say, 'Certain guys want the ball when it's crunch time. Other guys just don't seem to come off the picks the way they're supposed to.' I've told that to Cam , and Cam has always wanted the ball."Although the Panthers still looking stagnant at times on offense — including the first three quarters against the Eagles when they managed just seven first downs and no points — Newton seems adjusting well to new offensive coordinator Norv Turner's scheme, which features more check downs and screen plays than the Panthers have typically run in the past."When we get into the logistic things of football, and what the defense is giving and what they aren't, you can't just go down and chuck the football downfield and just expect, 'Well, we didn't take shots in the game,'" Newton said. "That's not what good teams or offenses do. We don't let the defense dictate to us, we dictate to the defense. So that's been our approach."With the emphasis focused on shorter routes, Newton is completing a career-high 65.6 percent of his passes, well above his career average of 58.9 percent.So while Newton says he likes the big play as much as anyone, he seems fine with Turner's philosophy — as long as the Panthers are winning games."Whatever Norv and his offensive staff calls it's my job as the quarterback to execute it," Newton said. "If I see anything otherwise, it's my job to make the proper audible. If not, then run the play."
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