Sam Beal, Eli Manning
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

Despite the fact that few starters will play, there are still a few roster spots that can be won on Thursday night when the New York Giants take on the Patriots.

Jason Leach

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—The New York Giants will conclude their preseason schedule Thursday night in Foxboro when they take on the New England Patriots.

As is the case with fourth preseason game, the starters are not expected to play. Even though the starters aren’t expected to play, there are several roster spots at stake as the Giants have to cut down their roster to 53 on Saturday.

How will Daniel Jones perform making his first start?

If John Mara gets his wish Thursday night will be the last time we’ll see Daniel Jones on an NFL field this season. After backing up Eli Manning the first three games of the preseason, Jones will start on Thursday night.

Jones has been magnificent in the first three games, but won’t have the benefit of playing behind any starters on the offensive line against the Patriots. So it will be interesting to see if he’s as poised and accurate he’s been in the three previous preseason games.

Even though the Patriots won’t play their starters, any time a young quarterback goes up against a Bill Belichick defense, it’s a learning experience, as Belichick will show something Jones hasn’t seen before.

The battle to be the No. 3 quarterback

With how well Jones has played and how durable Manning has been throughout his career, the Giants could elect to only keep two quarterbacks. But they’ll more than likely keep three, which means whoever plays best on Thursday night (Kyle Lauletta or Alex Tanney) will own the inside track. Expect Lauletta and Tanney to play at least a quarter each.

Will Sam Beal see playing time?

A shoulder injury kept Sam Beal out all of last season and a hamstring injury has kept him out of the preseason this year. Earlier this week, Shurmur was asked if Beal would see his first game action on Thursday night.

“I’d like to see them all play,” Shurmur said. “We’ll just have to see where he’s at. It would be good for him to play if he’s healthy enough. But we don’t want to put him out there too soon.”

Beal will likely make the final roster even if he doesn’t play on Thursday night based on the investment the Giants made by giving up a third-round pick. But it would be ideal to get him on the field in the preseason before the games count for real.

Which receiver or receivers will stand out?

One of the toughest positions to trim down on Saturday will be the wide receiver position. Several receivers have shined in training camp and in the preseason. With Golden Tate out the first four games of the season, only Sterling Shepard, Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard and Darius Slayton seem to be locks to make the roster.

This means TJ Jones, Alonzo Russell, Reggie White Jr. and Brittan Golden have one last chance to showcase their talent on offense and special teams, and show that they deserve a roster spot.

New York Giants

B.J. Goodson and Nate Stupar

The Giants seem set at three with three of their inside linebackers in Alec Ogletree, Tae Davis and rookie Ryan Connelly. It seems logical the Giants want four inside linebackers on the roster, which means it will come down to B.J. Goodson and Nate Stupar.

Goodson is better against the run, whereas Stupar has lasted this long in the NFL by being a key contributor on special teams. How they fare on Thursday will give a good indication on who will be on the roster and who will be looking for employment elsewhere.

The battle to be the third running back on the depth chart

Wayne Gallman seems to be a lock to be Saquon Barkley’s primary backup, but as for who will be third on the depth chart remains a huge question mark. Paul Perkins, Rod Smith and Jon Hilliman have all made plays in the previous preseason games and have also showcased some down plays.

Smith may not play after being injured last week, so that means Perkins and Hilliman will handle most of the workload. Each should get around 10 carries and whoever makes the most of their opportunity stands the best chance of winning a roster spot.

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