Whose stock rose during the opening exhibition matchup? Whose stock fell?
LB Darrian Beavers. The rookie sixth-round draft pick was around the football on various occasions, finishing the game with three tackles. Beavers has impressed in training camp and seems to be in play for a larger role than fellow linebacker Micah McFadden, who was drafted one round prior.
Beavers is expected to provide reliable depth behind projected starting inside linebackers Blake Martinez and Tae Crowder. On Thursday night, he showed off the quickness, vision, and tackling ability that got him drafted in April. Progress throughout the rest of the preseason should earn Beavers legitimate playing time when the regular season commences.
RB Gary Brightwell. Saquon Barkley and Matt Breida will be the top two running backs on this team.
But Gary Brightwell surely made a case for why he deserves a roster spot as a reserve.
The 2021 sixth-round draft pick out of Arizona doesn’t just provide special teams value (which he portrayed Thursday night with a tackle on a 2nd-quarter kickoff). Brightwell ran hard behind the second-team offensive line and utilized great vision and burst to rack up 40 yards on seven carries (5.7 yards per carry). He additionally caught two balls for 19 yards.
Brightwell’s versatility should gift him a roster spot — the Giants would be retaining a multi-faceted asset by keeping him on the final 53.
WR Collin Johnson. Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Sterling Shepard are locks to make the roster. After that, the roster spots in the receiver room are fair game — and Johnson could benefit from his Thursday performance.
Yes, he did lose a fumble early in the second quarter but the one negative shouldn’t outweigh all the positives. Johnson was able to gain separation from Patriots defenders and was in sync with backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Johnson finished the night with seven receptions and 82 yards. One of his top competitors for a roster spot, Darius Slayton, caught just one pass for 17 yards.
With Slayton’s decline in play over the last few years, the numerous moves made at receiver the last two offseasons, and the potential $2.5 million in cap savings by parting ways with him, it’s tough to imagine the fourth-year receiver is with the team much longer. It seems the Giants may be more interested in the services of Johnson, who could further progress next Sunday night against the Bengals.
WR Kenny Golladay. In year two with the Giants, Golladay needs to prove he’s worth his $18 million average annual salary.
He didn’t provide a great sense of hope in the first preseason game though. The veteran receiver dropped a pass at the Patriots’ two-yard line on the opening drive of the game. This led to the Giants settling for a field goal, which Gano converted for an early 3-0 lead. It was a lazy route run by Golladay, as well.
Right now, it’s not looking like the Giants can trust Golladay as much as they’re paying him. That’s a major issue, even if former GM Dave Gettleman is at fault.
CB Aaron Robinson. The 2021 third-rounder is expected to be the starting boundary corner opposite veteran Adoree’ Jackson. But he doesn’t even look close to ready.
Robinson could not keep up with opposing receivers and was in poor position on a first-quarter Patriots touchdown pass from Brian Hoyer to rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton, who Robinson was covering in the end zone. Robinson did make one good coverage play in the end zone just prior to that allowed touchdown. However, it was negated after Brightwell taunted intended Pats receiver Kristian Wilkerson. The personal foul led to a first-and-goal for New England.
Robinson must be a leader in this inexperienced secondary, especially after the release of safety Logan Ryan and corner James Bradberry. He has the opportunity to assume a significant role — the mistakes he made (both with his play and his mouth) Thursday night won’t be taken lightly. Especially by a regime that didn’t even draft him.