By Paul Dottino
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All of the test scores are in, although we won’t know the full results until Saturday at 4 p.m.
Coach Tom Coughlin, his assistants and general manager Jerry Reese must finish grading the players on the Giants’ roster in order to pare the group from 85 to 80 today and then to 53 tomorrow.
Coughlin estimated there were “three or four” available roster spots on the final roll call, hours before the 18-17 road victory over the New England Patriots in Thursday’s preseason finale. He didn’t play any of his starting 22 (other than tight end Bear Pascoe) and focused on solidifying the depth chart.
Coughlin, who’s always looking for a motivational tool, went as far as to have the video department cut up a presentation a few days ago to show highlights of 10 low-round/undrafted players who made a roster in the fourth exhibition game and went on to have substantial NFL careers.
As for the final 53? It will not include reserve outside linebacker Clint Sintim, who ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee while making a tackle on the first play of the second half.
His slot may wind up being given to sixth-round outside linebacker Jacquian Williams, a speedy but raw player who had a strong second half to finish the night with seven tackles (plus one on special teams) and three sacks. Rookie punt returner/wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan had X-rays taken on his wrist and they were negative.
So let’s see how the Giants fared in the three things we told you to watch for:
Punt returner. Jernigan mishandled two opportunities in six tries, including one of mistake being nullified by a Patriots penalty.
His night also included a darting 42-yard return and a fair catch, and Jernigan later reached out and snared the winning two-point conversion pass. It’s clear the Giants wanted to give the overwhelmed rookie every chance to find his game and make the team, which means he’ll probably stick around.
The punters. Matt Dodge nor Steve Weatherford did anything to lose their competition last night – or during the entire preseason for that matter.
Again, Dodge showed an example of his leg strength – he boomed a 53-yarder with hang time and Weatherford countered by dropping a 46-yarder that resulted in a fair catch at the New England 9. Coughlin is going to have to rely on his gut to make this pick, which may come down to the final hour.
Cornering the market. Realizing they were short on depth at corner, the Giants gave a heavy dose of playing time to veterans Brian Williams (who arrived last week) and Derrick Martin, who has been a safety by trade.
Martin was more noticeable – he scored the decisive touchdown on an 11-yard fumble return with 9:40 remaining – and had four tackles plus a special teams assist.
Who’s your pick at punter, Dodge or Weatherford? Let Dottino know below…