The Giants did not feel they needed to learn anything more about Daniel Jones. Or Darren Waller. Or, for that matter, rookie center John Michael Schmitz.
The Giants saw all they needed to see this summer from Kayvon Thibodeaux and Dexter Lawrence. And, interestingly, there was no plan for any further evaluation of a pair of rookie cornerbacks, Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins. Or Jason Pinnock, the 24-year old safety who has been lining up with the starters.
It was clear right away that coach Brian Daboll viewed Saturday night’s 32-24 preseason finale loss to the Jets as the final look at a bunch of players on the fringe of the roster.
It was evident that the more snaps a player received in this game, the less likely he would be on the roster on Tuesday, when all NFL teams must reduce from 90 to 53 players.
It was readily apparent that Daboll had no care whatsoever that the Jets started Aaron Rodgers in his first preseason action since 2018 or that coach Robert Saleh opted to put his starting offensive and defensive units on the field for a few series in the first quarter.
Daboll did what he felt was best for his own team and opted for safety above all else in a preseason-ending loss at MetLife Stadium.
What this all meant is Jones played only one series in the preseason, a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive last week against the Panthers.
This also meant running back Saquon Barkley did not get off the sideline even once this summer, as Daboll worked Barkley in practice but will wait to have him take a real hit until the real thing, Sept. 10 against the Cowboys.
There was some interesting player usage, though. There was no way to really know what would happen this summer with Sterling Shepard.
He was coming off reconstructive knee surgery that limited him to three games last season and played in only seven games in 2021 after rupturing his Achilles tendon.
Shepard was on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp but after a few days was activated and has not faltered since then.
Shepard was named a game captain for this game and, along with linebacker Jihad Ward, represented the Giants for the coin toss.
Shepard was given the start at one wide receiver spot and he also lined up as the punt returner. He did not call for a fair catch but was tackled — after not calling for a fair catch — on his first return opportunity.
Has Shepard done enough to stay around? It is a crowded receiver room and there are plenty of options.
Newly signed Isaiah Simmons, who arrived on Friday, not only was in uniform but he actually started at an outside linebacker spot.
Simmons on the first third down on defense rushed the passer — and actually got good pressure on Rodgers, forcing an errant pass.
Simmons — the No. 8 overall pick by the Cardinals in the 2020 NFL Draft — did not have enough time to learn much of anything in coordinator Wink Martindale’s defense and so sending him forward to go after the passer was the most natural starting point.
Jihad Ward bumped Rodgers after a pass and the two jawed with each other after the play — Rodgers seemed to take exception to the contact. It happened again moments later.
Befitting a third and final preseason game, this was a backup-centric situation for the Giants.
Tyrod Taylor started at quarterback. Schmitz, having locked up the center position after a strong summer, did not play. The starting tackles, Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal, did not play.
On the interior of the offensive line, Josh Ezeudu started at left guard, Mark Glowinski started at right guard and Ben Bredeson started at center.
It remains to be seen how it shakes out in two weeks for the season opener. It could be Ezeudu and Glowinski flanking Schmitz, or it could be Bredeson moving into one of the guard spots.
The main targets for Jones all remained safely tucked away from the field.
That meant Waller and receivers Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell and Isaiah Hodgins will be rested and ready for the Cowboys.
Tommy DeVito, vying for a spot on the practice squad, again showed some moxie after he replaced Taylor midway through the first quarter.
DeVito did misfire on a pass intended for David Sills that was intercepted by Brandon Echols and returned 67 yards for a touchdown. DeVito rallied and completed 13 of 22 passes for 126 yards in the first half.
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