Rhett Ellison, Paul Perkins noticed for different reasons in opener

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After reviewing the New York Giants' preseason-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday night, here's a rundown of the offense and the effects the game performances should have on the depth chart.

Quarterback -- The only thing notable was in the backup competition between Geno Smith and Josh Johnson. Smith appeared to gain some ground as he flashed his skills early. If not for the two interceptions (one was negated by a defensive penalty), he would've made a major move in the QB battle. But those bad decisions are part of the puzzle with Smith. Johnson, meanwhile, needs to play better. He held onto the ball too long at times, but also should have had a pair of touchdown passes -- Roger Lewis dropped one and ran out of bounds on another.

"I think when you take a look at both quarterbacks, I think they both did some good things in the ballgame," coach Ben McAdoo said. "But there were definitely some inconsistencies."

In the end, there wasn't much movement in the QB competition.

Running backs -- McAdoo was critical of Paul Perkins’ first run of the preseason. He thought it should've gone for more than a 7-yard gain when Perkins ran free into the secondary and had a one-on-one with the safety.

"He has to make him miss and he has to run him over," McAdoo said. "We have to at least get a first down on that play."

Ouch! Not a glowing critique of the Giants' starting running back, who hasn't blown anyone away with his performance this summer. Perkins' other four carries went for minus-4 yards and he didn't catch a pass.

Orleans Darkwa ran well on his three carries for 18 yards and inched closer to becoming a bigger part of the rotation. This also came on the heels of splitting some of the first-team reps with Perkins last week.

Fullback -- Shane Smith caught a pass for 9 yards, had a crushing block and did well on special teams.

"I think he has some fluidity to him for a fullback, for a big guy," McAdoo said. "That always helps because he's going to have to be a special-teams contributor if he has a chance. I think he can be sharper in his details from the fullback spot, and it'll get better there over time in the next three weeks."

Smith made his mark and has become the clear favorite ... if the Giants keep a fullback. Jacob Huesman played just one offensive snap.

Wide receiver -- Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Tavarres King didn’t play. Brandon Marshall was on the field for two snaps. There was nothing to take away from that. Lewis had a disastrous performance. He seemed to run the wrong route early in the contest, and it resulted in a T.J. Watt sack. Lewis was later dominated on a running play as he attempted to block, and it resulted in a negative run. He also cost the Giants a pair of potential touchdowns with a drop and by running out of bounds in the back of the end zone during a catch.

Lewis' struggles open the door even wider for others. Darius Powe made the strongest impression, with a 15-yard catch and by forcing a 33-yard pass-interference penalty, and there was another play on which he was wide open and should've had an easy touchdown. He continues to make a case to be kept over Lewis.

Rookie Travis Rudolph hurt himself with a fumble on a kickoff return and ineffective punt returns. He needed to show added value as a returner. It didn’t happen.

Tight end -- Offseason acquisition Rhett Ellison did well blocking and catching passes. He's cementing his position as the starter at tight end.

"I thought Rhett came out, he had a good start in a Giants uniform," McAdoo said.

First-round pick Evan Engram caught one pass for 11 yards but had other opportunities where he could've made plays if the quarterbacks had thrown the ball in his direction. There were some positives to take from his debut. He played fast.

Second-year player Jerell Adams made the biggest impression of the rest. He led the Giants with three catches for 28 yards and looked more nimble and effective Friday than he has most of the summer.

"Jerell played with some good speed," McAdoo said. "[Will] Tye had some wiggle, did some good things on special teams, which will help him. [Matt] LaCosse got in there later on in the ballgame; we need to get him to stay on his feet. He slipped down a few times. A couple guys did in the game, and he needs to stay on his feet a little bit better, but he'll have plenty of opportunities moving forward."

Ellison and Engram reaffirmed their positions. Adams might have jumped up the depth chart for the time being. There is major competition at tight end.

Offensive line -- The line allowed seven sacks. Not all of it was the linemen's fault, but McAdoo believes they allowed too much push.

The first-team unit also was responsible for too many negative runs. That has to improve. It wasn't the best performance for guard John Jerry and center Weston Richburg. Tackles Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart held their own. They didn't have any regrettable snaps or shining moments. Status quo is good for them.

The backup tackles, rookies Chad Wheeler and Adam Bisnowaty, had their struggles. Guards Adam Gettis and D.J. Fluker fared slightly better. Not much seemed to change overall on the offensive line depth chart from that performance.