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 defense and the effects the performances should have on the depth chart.
Defensive end -- Kerry Wynn and Devin Taylor were the preseason standouts. Wynn made a tackle for a loss, forced a bad throw with a pressure and was extremely impressive in his 20 snaps. It was a reminder that the veteran is still here, and he can still play. Taylor, a late offseason signing, made a positive first impression in his first game. He had an interception and several good pass rushes from the left defensive end spot. They both outplayed Romeo Okwara, who is ahead of them on the depth chart.
As for the starters, Jason Pierre-Paul did not play and Olivier Vernon played six effective snaps in his tuneup. At a crowded position and with plenty to prove, Owa Odighizuwa had some productive rushes and Jordan Williams produced three tackles and a sack. They opened some eyes but still have more ground to make up.
Defensive tackle -- It’s starting to become a two-man race for the starting defensive tackle spot next to Damon Harrison between Jay Bromley and Dalvin Tomlinson. Robert Thomas should return Sunday from injury but after the preseason opener Bromley and Tomlinson have “the leg up,” according to coach Ben McAdoo, who also noted it's still early. Both played well against the Steelers and showed consistent ability to work in the backfield. Bromley ruined a third-and-short run play and an active Tomlinson had four tackles. The rookie’s strength and ability to use his hands continues to stand out. Bromley appears quicker and more sound technically. It has been noticed.
“I think Jay’s improving,” McAdoo said. “He’s playing with some hostility out there, he’s playing aggressive, playing physical football.”
Linebacker -- B.J. Goodson started in the middle between Devon Kennard and Jonathan Casillas. Barring an injury, that’s going to be the way it is this season. Goodson passed his first test and displayed that quickness and power he adds to the defense with a sack through the A-gap.
“I think B.J. got off to a good start at the position,” McAdoo said. “He had a nice rush in there and he’s a physical player and we look forward to him continuing to develop and get better.”
Among the backups, undrafted rookie Calvin Munson and Curtis Grant were the most impressive. They had three tackles and, maybe more importantly, made plays on special teams. That would be their ticket to a roster spot.
Veteran Keenan Robinson remains in the concussion protocol.
Cornerback -- The top three (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple) are set. Rodgers-Cromartie didn’t even play in the preseason opener. It’s the backup jobs that are up for grabs. Michael Hunter fared the best of the bunch, much like he has the entire spring and summer. The Steelers weren't able to get much done in his direction. They had significantly more success throwing at Valentino Blake, who allowed a touchdown and several other plays. It wasn't a total wash though. Blake had a nice diving interception and did some notable things on special teams. That is key for a fifth cornerback.
“I think Blake had a lot of snaps in the ball game, did some good things on special teams,” McAdoo said. “It was nice to see him come up with the interception there. He needs to make sure he takes care of the ball better than he did. He was waving that thing around a little bit, but it was nice to see him make a play on the ball. They ran a nice double-move, he was isolated there for a touchdown towards the end of the game on the double-move. He was isolated and they made a nice play.”
Donte Deayon had a rough game, both in coverage and on special teams. His muffed punt really hurt. A fifth cornerback needs to contribute on special teams and at 163 pounds the only route is as a returner.
Undrafted rookie DaShaun Amos also had his struggles, and was fortunate the Steelers didn’t take advantage of several opportunities against him deep downfield.
Safeties -- Landon Collins was dominant in his 10 snaps, making five tackles. Darian Thompson felt good with the first team after missing almost all of last season. He moved well and looked like he belonged with the starters.
“I thought that Darian was a little rusty, but it was good to see him knock that rust off as he played a little more in the game,” McAdoo said. “We count on it as really another rookie year for him. But we count on him improving with reps.”
Andrew Adams popped on special teams. He made a pair of tackles and impressed in that role. He’s the third safety. Nat Berhe had his moments. He had three tackles but slipped on a deep completion downfield. Eric Pinkins hurt his case for a roster spot with an illegal block on special teams. Playing under control is a concern with Pinkins, who is fast and physical.