Joe Judge focusing on bottom of Giants roster in first preseason game


This is what Joe Judge says he likes about his team:

“I like their work ethic,’’ he said. “I like the way these guys show up every day and they work, and you see constant improvement. This is a team that’s got a lot of mental toughness, this is a team that as we’ve challenged them to go ahead and improve, as we’ve challenged them on different things, they’ve responded.

“I like the way they compete in practice. It’s not perfect, we’re far from a finished product, we have a long way to go as a team, but I love their spirit and how they come to work every day, and what they’re doing to improve.’’

In Judge’s view, there’s a lot to like about the Giants. He will find more to like, no doubt, and also new concerns to ponder after Saturday night’s preseason opener against the Jets at MetLife Stadium. That’s the way it always shakes out after these summer practice games. Some good, some bad.

Judge and his coaching staff are not going to learn a whole lot about their starting units, because those players are not going to be on the field much, if at all. Daniel Jones will sit this one out, as will Saquon Barkley and new receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney. So, there will be no looking at the new-look offense.

Joe Judge addresses the team.
Corey Sipkin

Mostly, Judge wants to continue the evaluation of the bottom portion of their 90-man roster, as five players must get cut by Tuesday.

“It’s not something we’re looking forward to doing, but it’s just something in how the nature of the rules are, that we have to make those decisions,’’ Judge said. “We’ve got to make sure we get a good look at some of these positions where we’ve got a lot of young guys that we have to see step up and play.’’

This is Judge’s second year, but this is the first time he has taken a team as a head coach into a preseason schedule — there were no games last summer because of COVID-19 shutdowns. He has already said he will treat the third preseason game same as the “traditional Game 3’’ when there were four games. Traditionally, coaches played their starters in the first half in the third (out of four) preseason games, and often well into the third quarter. This means for the preseason opener, select starters will take the field against the Jets, but many more will watch from the sideline.

Three weeks of camp offered plenty of opportunity for roster hopefuls to make an impression. There is nothing like a game, though, to really open some eyes. This is why it is a big night for several players. One in particular: Cornerback Sam Beal, who has not played in a game since the end of the 2019 season — he has six games in three years — and faces heavy competition to stick around. He is not a front-runner, at this point, although he might not be viewing his situation that way.

“If you play DB, you should never lose your confidence because every game you go out, you can get beat or you could have the best game of your life,’’ Beal said. “So, I will never lose that competitive side that I have always had. I’ll continue to be competitive and compete every day.’’

After this game, Judge will make the requisite cuts and reassess what he has on the roster. Between now and the start of the real season, players will rise and drop on the depth chart and players from outside the organization will be brought in.

“I tell our guys all the time, when they come in, the depth chart is really blank and as we start practicing and they start putting together things on tape, you start filling in names based off of what they’re doing,’’ Judge said. “That can change every day. It’s really just cumulative. It’s what you do consistently day in and day out. Some guys may flash one day, some guys may flash another day, but ultimately you want to go ahead and measure who’s consistently dependable, who’s productive for you on the field. But in terms of filling those names in, yeah, the answer is as we start practicing, the names start getting filled in. Now, they’re not written in permanent marker, so at any point, based on who is playing, the best get in that spot.’’

The Giants have taken another stab at a veteran offensive lineman. They signed guard Ted Larsen on Friday, hoping for better luck with him than Joe Looney and Zach Fulton, two players who arrived at training camp and then retired soon after.

Larsen, 34, has been around, playing in 137 games, with 88 NFL starts in 10 years. He was out of football in 2020 until he signed with the Buccaneers late in the season, playing in two playoff games. He started 13 games for the Dolphins in 2018 and was originally a 2010 sixth-round draft pick of the Patriots.

The Giants also waived RB Mike Weber and DB Jordyn Peters.

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