The Giants and Jets came together at MetLife Stadium for their annual preseason matchup Sunday afternoon. It was a 1 p.m. start, providing those in attendance that regular-season vibe we’ve all been yearning for months.
It was either team’s final preseason game before final roster cuts are made on Tuesday (teams will need to trim their rosters to 53 by 4 p.m. ET that day). And while the Giants sat many of their starters, Jets head coach Robert Saleh had his first-team offense and defense out there for the last exhibition game of the year.
What did we see when the starters took the field in East Rutherford?
Taylor down. Tyrod Taylor left the game towards the end of the first quarter after suffering an apparent back injury. The team’s second-string quarterback, who started against the Jets, took a major hit from rookie defensive end Micheal Clemons. He hit Taylor as the veteran released the ball, which was eventually caught by rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger for a first down.
Clemons portrayed the speed, athleticism, and power that got him drafted in the fourth round back in April. It was a major hit, but one that was most certainly legal.
A long-term injury for Taylor would be brutal for Big Blue. The team now has a servicable backup quarterback for Jones after going through last year’s disaster with Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm seeing time when Jones missed the final six games with a neck injury. Also, Taylor could be a starter at some point during the year thanks to the legitimate possibility of Jones struggling or suffering an injury.
Two-headed monster. Jets general manager Joe Douglas did a great job addressing the tight end position this past offseason, and it showed early in Sunday’s preseason finale. Both Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah, veterans signed back in March, produced against the Giants defense, developing connections with Joe Flacco in the process.
Conklin finished with two catches for 27 yards while Uzomah also reeled in a reception.
Either should be a legitimate safety blanket for Zach Wilson when the second-year quarterback returns from his knee injury.
McFadden emerges. The Giants drafted rookie linebacker Micah McFadden in the fifth round before taking linebacker Darrian Beavers in the sixth. Beavers seemingly had the inside track to be the top reserve linebacker behind starters Blake Martinez and Tae Crowder though…until he tore his ACL in last Sunday’s preseason game against the Bengals.
McFadden now has an opportunity for additional playing time in Beavers’ absence, and surely took advantage of it on Sunday. The former Indiana standout punched the ball out of Jets running back Michael Carter’s grasp on a third-down catch-and-run during the opening possession. The ball was then recovered by linebacker Austin Calitro, who later returned an interception for a touchdown and is definitely fighting for a final-roster spot.
If McFadden continues to make plays like that, he’ll see time in Wink Martindale’s defense. Maybe he eventually pushes Crowder for a starting role, just like Beavers was likely going to do when healthy.