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What to watch as the Giants prep for the Broncos
Will he play or won’t he?
That is the question that matters when it comes to Giants’ star running back Saquon Barkley. Coach Joe Judge has said he wants to see how Barkley comes out of Wednesday’s fully-padded practice before making a decision on Barkley, who has not played in a game since suffering a major knee injury in Week 2 of last season.
Other injured guys
This is a list that includes wide receivers Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay, tight ends Evan Engram, Kaden Smith and Kyle Rudolph, cornerback Adoree’ Jackson and offensive guard Shane Lemiuex.
We can pretty much guess at this point that the Giants expect Golladay (hamstring) and Toney (hamstring) to play. Both missed almost all of training camp, but have been practicing the past two weeks. The Giants would not have dropped C.J. Board from the 53-man roster if they were uncertain about Toney and Golladay. They have only five wide receivers on the active roster.
The tight end situation is a mess. Rudolph has only been off PUP for three weeks after offseason foot surgery, but right now he appears to be the healthiest tight end on the roster. Engram (calf) and Smith (unknown injury) did not practice Monday. The Giants protected two practice squad tight ends this week — Ryan Izzo and Chris Myarick. One or both could be added to the game day roster.
Jackson has not practiced since spraining an ankle in joint workouts with the New England Patriots. If Jackson can’t go, rookie sixth-round pick Rodarius Williams would likely take that spot.
Lemieux reportedly has a partially torn patellar tendon. He suffered that injury in the first couple of days of training camp, and practiced very little until recently. How much he can play, how effective he will be, and what Plan B will be if Lemieux can’t play a full game are all questions.
The plan on the offensive line
The unofficial depth chart the Giants released this week tells us Nate Solder is going to start at right tackle instead of second-year man Matt Peart. Will Peart and Solder rotate? Probably. That’s something Joe Judge is in favor of. Could left tackle Andrew Thomas be involved in that rotation? If he struggles, I wouldn’t doubt it.
What about left guard? Shane Lemieux is trying to play through a partially torn patellar tendon. He really hasn’t worked a lot during the preseason. Can he play a full game? Maybe not. If he needs a breather, or the injury forces him to the sideline, is newly-acquired former Baltimore Ravens guard Ben Bredeson next in line?
Here are the Giants’ season-opening records the past nine seasons:
The Giants have two games in five days to open the season (vs. Denver on Sunday, then at the Washington Football Team on Thursday). We will know an awful lot about where this team is headed before Week 2 is even over.
I have already lost count of the number of roster moves the Giants have made since announcing their initial 53-man roster. There are probably going to be more this week. The Giants will have to cover themselves when they figure out who can and can’t play on Sunday. They also have to create some cap space to get under the cap once the top 51 rules expires on Thursday. They have already restructured the deals of Logan Ryan and Josh Jackson, and reached injury settlements with several players.
There will be more to come.