EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The lead-up to the third preseason game can be telling. Players who are expected to be on the final rosters receive significant playing time. It’s sort of a dress rehearsal for the real thing.
When the New York Giants took the practice field this week, they prepared their first-team offense, defense and special-teams units for the New York Jets on Saturday night. It provided clues as to how their final 53-man roster will be assembled. It's only logical to give the most work to the players that are likely to stick, and for them to do it together as a unit.
Orleans Darkwa's ray of hope
The Giants haven’t given running back Orleans Darkwa many offensive snaps during the preseason. He’s been on the field for nine plays and had two carries in the first two games combined. That’s not promising. Andre Williams has carried a much heavier workload.
But what Darkwa has working for him is that he’s part of all the Giants’ first-team special-teams units. Interestingly enough, fullback Nikita Whitlock is not running with them despite being known for his special-teams prowess.
It makes me believe the Giants could easily carry five running backs (Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Williams, Darkwa and Paul Perkins) and use their tight ends in the backfield as a fullback when necessary.
Mark Herzlich's back again?
The veteran linebacker remains a staple on special teams and a reserve option at strongside linebacker. He’s a trustworthy option that has had a strong summer and seems destined for a sixth year on the Giants' roster after making the team as an inspirational undrafted free-agent story.
Keenan Robinson's role
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said this week that Jasper Brinkley and Kelvin Sheppard were neck-and-neck for the starting middle-linebacker spot. Where does that put Keenan Robinson? He’s still been working in the first-team nickel defense and as the second-team weakside linebacker. And Spagnuolo seems pleased.
“He has been doing a pretty good job,” he said.
Unless J.T. Thomas, who was activated off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list this week, overtakes Robinson in the next week or two, there appears to be a spot on the final roster for Robinson, the former Redskins middle linebacker.
Trevin Wade's spot
Even though Wade has been bumped out of the first-team defense by the addition of Leon Hall, he still seems to be the choice as potential cornerback depth. Wade has been working with the second-team defense and as the primary gunner alongside Dwayne Harris on punts. This could be because wide receiver Geremy Davis is struggling with a hamstring injury, but still bodes well for Wade.
Justin Currie's chance
Currie works in relative obscurity with the Giants. Most don’t even consider him part of the safety mix. But he has a chance. Expect to see him plenty with the first-team special-teams unit and the second-team defense this week. The Giants seem to be intrigued by the second-year safety, who missed all of last year with a leg injury suffered during the preseason. Currie is ahead of Bennett Jackson (now playing cornerback) on the depth chart and may also be ahead of Cooper Taylor, who has played well this preseason.
Wherever he stands, Currie has done enough this summer to at least earn himself this opportunity these final two weeks with Darian Thompson (shoulder) and Mykkele Thompson (concussion) struggling with injuries. Currie’s a big hitter who moves well.