WHO IS COMMITTED TO OLB?
The Giants have recently taken a few hits to their promising group of outside linebackers. Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux was injured in last week’s game against the Bengals, while talented second-year linebacker Azeez Ojulari is “hand to toe” after hurting himself in practice Thursday. Elerson Smith was also ruled out of training due to injury.
All three young outside linebackers were ruled out for Sunday and Jihad Ward is questionable, which paved the way for some of the team’s other OLBs to get a bigger opportunity against the Jets. Undrafted rookie Tomon Fox made one of the plays of the game last week when he forced a late fumble that the Giants recovered to seal the win over Cincinnati. Quincy Roche recorded five total pressures (two hits, three rushes) in the first two preseason games, good for a passing rating of 75.5 PFF. Then there’s Oshane Ximines, who made a good impression on his head coach.
“I think he did a good job,” Daboll told reporters of Ximines. “He was ready to go. He’s been available. He’s improved. He’s a big guy. He’s got heavy hands. Does a good job of giving the advantage. I think he’s done well. came on defense. (Outside Linebackers Coach Drew Wilkins) Drew did a good job with him. So we need that from our guys.”
McFADDEN STARTING STRONG
Micah McFadden was the eighth player selected from the Giants’ 11-man draft class this year. The Indiana linebacker was considered a good fit for Wink Martindale’s heavyweight defense, and two games into the preseason the shoe was certainly a fit.
McFadden tied Austin Calitro and Darren Evans with a team-high four tackles in the preseason opener, and followed that up with five tackles against the Bengals, who again led the team. He registered two pressures on just 11 quick passes, which helped him to an 83.1 assist rating. McFadden’s 90.3 overall rating is the highest on defense and also ranks in the league’s Top 10 rookies in the first two games. The inside linebacker also had 84.9 run defense and 81.2 tackle marks. Those four PFF grades rank in the top four of the Giants defense. McFadden could be eyeing an even bigger role after Darrian Beavers’ season-ending injury.
It’s been a busy week for the front office between injuries, waiver requests and free agent signings. Here are all of this week’s trades:
Waiver requests: The Giants have claimed a few players, including CB Harrison Hand (from Minnesota) and WR Jaylon Moore (from Baltimore). Hand has played 23 games with one start over the past two seasons and has recorded one interception, three pass breakups and 22 tackles (19 solo). Moore has spent the past two seasons on the Ravens’ practice squad. WR Bailey Gaither was also claimed waivers, then waived the following day after failing his physical.
Free agent signings: Veteran tight end Tanner Hudson was signed Thursday morning and immediately made his presence felt by catching the deepest pass of the day against the Jets. Hudson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being drafted in 2018. He spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad and did not appear in a game. Hudson went on to play in 20 games from 2019-20 and had five receptions for 67 yards. He also played in every postseason game during the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl run after the 2020 campaign. He then spent most of the 2021 season on the San Francisco 49ers practice squad.
The Giants signed two more free agents Friday morning, bringing back some familiar faces in K Ryan Santoso and WR Travis Toivonen. Santoso spent the 2020 season with the Giants before bouncing between a few teams last season. Meanwhile, Toivonen was waived by the Giants exactly one month before being re-signed on Friday.
TE Jordan Akins, OL Chris Owens and S Andrew Adams were dismissed this week.
Injury Updates: C Nick Gates and T Matt Peart have been placed on the reserve/physically unable to play roster, meaning they no longer count towards the 80-player roster. Gates and Peart will miss at least the first four games of the season. LB Darrian Beavers, TE Andre Miller, TE Ricky Seals-Jones, WR Collin Johnson and WR Marcus Kemp have all been placed on injured reserve and will miss the entire 2022 season.
While it remains to be seen which, if any, Giants starters will take the field for Sunday’s preseason finale, Jets head coach Robert Saleh has already told media that he plans to play his starters. The Jets’ starters are expected to take the field for a quarter to a quarter and a half after not playing in Monday’s win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Starting quarterback Zach Wilson will miss the preseason finale as he recovers from a Game 1 knee injury, which means veteran Joe Flacco will start under Jets center. Flacco knows Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale well, as the two were together in Baltimore from 2012 to 2018.
The Jets have put together a talented group of skill position players. Running back Breece Hall was selected with the 36th overall pick in this year’s draft after two straight years with over 1,400 rushing yards at Iowa State. He joins second-year RB Michael Carter in the backfield. The Jets passed the No. 10 overall pick over WR Garrett Wilson, pairing him with Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Braxton Berrios in a deep reception room. They also completely revamped their tight ends roster with the free agent additions of CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, as well as drafting Jeremy Ruckert in the third round of this year’s draft.
On defense, the Jets added two big defensive prospects in the first round with their picks of CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner at No. 4 and EDGE Jermaine Johnson at No. 26. They also signed two veteran DBs in free agency – CB DJ Reed and Jordan Whitehead. EDGE Carl Lawson also returns this year after missing all of last season with an Achilles tendon injury. DL Quinnen Williams and John Franklin-Myers, along with LB CJ Mosley, complete a strong defensive front.