The Giants are in Cincinnati this week to engage in joint practice sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, ahead of their preseason opener against the Bengals on Friday. And while none of it will officially count in the record books or scoreboard, they’re aware of the importance in competing against someone other than themselves for once.
One particular unit that will be tested is Big Blue’s secondary. Not only will they face the likes of quarterback Andy Dalton and All-Pro wideout A.J. Green, but they’ll be doing so undermanned. Cornerback Prince Amukamara traveled to Cincinnati, but will not participate after receiving a shot of cortisone for his injured groin. He hopes to rest the remainder of this week and start anew beginning next week. Sans Amukamara, it leaves the task of matching up with Green to veteran Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and several understudies.
How well the backups handle Dalton’s arsenal of receivers in the three upcoming tests – two practice sessions and a preseason game – will go a long way into determining how the roster and depth chart shapes heading into the season opener.
Trumaine McBride will be one of the beneficiaries of the extra reps and preseason action. McBride has mostly been battling for the nickel (five defensive back formation) and slot back positions, but he’ll likely get looks on the outside against the Bengals’ top target and his talented group of sidekicks.
Big Blue is shorthanded, but McBride is confident he and his unit will still hold its own.
“I’m not worried. Guys are going to be fired up, because once you step on the field, you have to look at it like it’s a game and a challenge,” McBride said, adding he’s looking forward to the week-long challenge because it means he’ll have to adjust to different players’ routes, techniques, and tendencies, as opposed to the same moves he’s seen from teammates the last two weeks. “When you’re practicing with your guys every day, you know certain things you can do, certain things you can’t do. You get used to going against the wideouts, so just having to see different faces, different techniques, different guys, will help in the long run.”
The long run will eventually sort out the logjam at defensive back, assuming everyone returns healthy sooner rather than later. Amukamara joins safety Nat Berhe and cornerback Chykie Brown as guys who won’t be available against the Bengals, which means there’s a handful of other relative unknowns who have a chance of making names for themselves.
As far as the long shots, Josh Gordy, who’s becoming a special teams tactician in camp, will be on the field often as a reserve cornerback, spelling starter Rodgers-Cromartie. Journeyman Mike Harris and underdog Trevin Wade will also get long looks. Wade, in particular, has looked solid in camp, nabbing two picks in team drills. He knows the door is ajar for him, especially with Amukamara and Brown nursing.
“If I get a chance to show what I know I can do, then maybe I can earn a shot to be on the active roster,” Wade said. “I’m just trying to make the team. I’ve got to make every rep count. Can’t matter who I’m guarding, I just have to make plays.”
Holdover Jayron Hosley always seems to be on the bubble, but with more focus this summer on outside coverage, as opposed to his customary slot position, he feels he’s ready to take the competition up a notch. He noted that his new role on the outside has given his career a new lease, and is anxious to show what he can do this week.
McBride welcomes all opposition – the Bengals and his own team – and treats this week as another way to impress the coaches and remain on the squad.
“I think it’s just a mindset. But I have the same mind frame every year. For me, I have to make the team,” McBride said. “They could have me [first] on the depth chart, or two on the depth chart, but my mind frame every year is, ‘Trumaine, you have to make the team first.’”
This week is step one for many of the roster-bubble guys.
Big Blue note:
- The number of Giants who stayed home displays many key names: safety Berhe, cornerback Brown, guard Geoff Schwartz, linebacker Jameel McClain, and left tackle Will Beatty.
- Rookie tackle Ereck Flowers (hip flexor) did travel and looked well against the Bengals’ pass rushers.
- The safety position has been in flux, due to all the new and inexperienced faces, but rookie free safety Landon Collins feels they’re starting to gel at the right time – and the Bengals offer a great test to his theory. Collins said “our vibe meshes together” in regards to his strong safety running mate Bennett Jackson. Collins added there is slightly more pressure this week, though. “Mistakes will cost you,” he said when asked the difference between the action this week and training camp sessions with his teammates.