Analyzing players on Giants' defense and special-teams bubbles

Donte Deayon (right) has performed well this summer and preseason and may have earned a spot on the Giants roster. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In less than a week, the New York Giants will have to dump 37 players. Teams have to trim their rosters to 53 players by Saturday.

With the new rules, there is no first cut and final cut. There is only one cut. They will happen in one fell swoop, after the final preseason game, which for the Giants is Thursday night against the New England Patriots.

It’s coming. Players of all shapes, sizes and notoriety will learn their fates by Saturday. In the meantime, with rosters still at 90 players, the “bubble” is bigger than ever.

We looked at the offensive bubble Monday. Now it’s the defense and special teams’ turn:

Kicker: Aldrick Rosas and Mike Nugent

The Giants kickers have made all nine of their field goal attempts this preseason. Each have hit from at least 50 yards, too. Nugent made kicks of 50 and 54 yards Saturday night. He also did well on kickoffs.

“We’ve got one heck of a competition at the kicker’s spot,” coach Ben McAdoo said.

Rosas, 22, was considered the favorite considering he was the only kicker on the roster this spring and into the early part of the summer. But Nugent has made the decision difficult. Will youth prevail?

Defensive end: Devin Taylor

The Giants are deep at defensive end. Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon and Romeo Okwara are locks. Avery Moss is secure as a 2017 fifth-round draft pick. Kerry Wynn appears to have solidified his roster spot with a strong summer. Where does that leave Taylor? The Giants would have to go real deep at the position (and probably lighter at defensive tackle) if Taylor sticks.

Owa Odighizuwa, meanwhile, actually fell off the bubble Monday when he was suspended for PEDs. He will either be waived or placed on an exempt list. He was a third-round pick in 2015 who missed most of the spring as he dealt with personal issues. He hasn’t been able to climb the depth chart this summer, but there is no downside to keeping him on the exempt list just in case they have a string of injuries at the position early this season.

Defensive tackle: Robert Thomas and Jordan Williams

Jay Bromley made his move to the top of the depth chart earlier this summer. He appears on solid ground despite a knee sprain. Second-round pick Dalvin Tomlinson is good and could start Week 1 next to Damon Harrison. Thomas and Williams’ futures appear uncertain. Thomas was slowed this summer by a minor injury and Williams flashed with his impressive first step. If Williams sticks it would be as a subpackage interior pass-rusher.

Linebacker: Mark Herzlich, J.T. Thomas, Calvin Munson and Curtis Grant

This may be the most uncertain position of all. The Giants have Jonathan Casillas, B.J. Goodson, Devon Kennard and Keenan Robinson as locks. Behind them, who knows. Health may be the deciding factor for Herzlich (stinger) and Thomas (knee). Herzlich wasn’t at practice Monday and hasn't practiced much at all lately. Thomas must prove he’s all the way back from tearing his knee last year. He just recently returned to the field. Their uncertainty opens the door for Munson and Grant. Munson has been playing with the first-team special-teams units. That’s a positive sign. Grant has shown an ability to play all three linebacker positions and produce. There are tough decisions at linebacker.

Cornerback: Donte Deayon

The top four cornerbacks are set with Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Michael Hunter. Deayon’s toughest competition with Valentino Blake on an exempt list may be from outside the current roster. Deayon has performed well this summer and preseason and may have earned the spot. It's a matter of whether the Giants believe Deayon has enough value on special teams as a fifth corner.

Safety: Nat Berhe, Duke Ihenacho, Eric Pinkins

Berhe has enjoyed a strong summer to state his case. It would be a surprise at this point if he didn’t make the final roster. Ihenacho was a longshot even before injuring his knee recently and Pinkins has seemingly faded as the summer went along. He was considered a candidate for a fourth safety/special-teams ace spot when training camp began.