Mixed results for Geno Smith, Giants in preseason opener

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It was the preseason opener. The ups and downs, the sloppiness, the lack of crisp football -- it’s to be expected when there is tackling for the first time this preseason. There was some good and some bad for the New York Giants in their 20-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday night at MetLife Stadium. It was a starting point that just so happened to be better for some (Landon Collins and Jay Bromley) than others.

  • QB depth chart: Starter Eli Manning didn’t play. Josh Johnson started and worked with the first-team offense. His performance (5-of-10 for 31 yards and three sacks) was uninspiring. He held on to the ball too long. Geno Smith appeared to be the more decisive and effective of the two QBs involved in the backup quarterback competition. He went 10-of-16 for 114 yards in a stint checkered by some poor decisions. He threw a pair of interceptions, although one was overturned. The other was almost returned for a touchdown. Rookie Davis Webb, meanwhile, completed 8 of 16 attempts for 67 yards without an interception, taking one sack.

  • When it was starters vs. starters, the Giants looked...: Dominant defensively and OK on offense. It was like most of last season. To be fair, the Giants were working against a Steelers offense without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and playing with an offense that didn’t have Manning or receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard.

  • One reason to be concerned: The first-team offensive line didn’t exactly inspire confidence during its quarter of play. Coach Ben McAdoo wanted to see the unit make a statement early, but the Giants ran for 8 yards on six carries, and that was with a 7-yard run on their first play of the game. The line did have its positive moments, though. The Giants converted a fourth-and-1, and the pass protection (despite the three sacks allowed) wasn’t terrible. One of the sacks was a missed assignment on what appeared to be a screen pass, and at least one of the others was due to Johnson holding on to the ball longer than expected. At first glance, left tackle Ereck Flowers appeared to play OK. Still, for a unit that came in with questions, Friday's game didn’t ease any of the concerns.

  • That guy could start: LB B.J. Goodson. He only solidified his standing as the starting middle linebacker with his performance Friday night. Goodson had command of the defense and added a sack with a strong, quick pass rush up the middle. It becomes more apparent each day that Goodson is starter material.

  • Rookie watch: Tight end Evan Engram had one catch for 11 yards. Smith and Johnson might have had other opportunities to find him downfield but didn’t throw in that direction. Second-round pick Dalvin Tomlinson was the most impressive of the rookie class. The defensive lineman had several solid snaps, including one where he worked his way into Pittsburgh's backfield and forced a holding penalty.

  • The kicker competition: Both Aldrick Rosas and Mike Nugent did their jobs. Each hit a pair of field goals; Rosas’ longest was from 52 yards (with room to spare) and Nugent hit from 45 yards. Both did a nice job on kickoffs. Rosas still appears to be the favorite barring a collapse later this summer.

  • The standouts: Safety Landon Collins was all over the field in his limited snaps. It appears there will be no drop-off in his third season. Defensive tackle Jay Bromley and ends Devin Taylor and Kerry Wynn also flashed ability. Taylor pulled down an interception and forced a holding penalty in the second half. Running back Orleans Darkwa ran hard and effectively (three carries for 18 yards) and tight end Rhett Ellison did a nice job catching the football.

  • Injury report: Safety Duke Ihenacho (hamstring). This is the most promising takeaway for the Giants: only one injury, and none to any starters or rotational players.