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Giants takeaways from Sunday’s loss to Browns, including Mike Glennon showing improvements in backup role

Giants Mike Glennon vs Browns

Giants Mike Glennon vs Browns

Of the 22 players who started on offense and defense for the Giants on Saturday, exactly one – safety Xavier McKinney – figures to be a starter on opening day. That tells you all you need to know about how serious the Giants took their season preseason game in Cleveland.

It was about evaluating the players further down the roster, not the result – a 17-13 loss to the Browns.

So how did the backups do?

Here are some takeaways from their big showcase game:

  • With Saquon Barkley’s opening-day status still unknown, it was good for the Giants that RB Devontae Booker finally showed something. He had six carries for 27 yards and 1-yard touchdown, plus two catches for 13 yards. That was far better than his 3-carry, 12-yard performance against the Jets last week. In practice at times, Corey Clement has looked like the better back, but the Giants were committed to Booker as Barkley’s primary backup. Now he clearly has the upper hand.

  • Veteran QB Mike Glennon wasn’t good last weekend against the Jets (3-of-7, 20 yards), but he definitely showed improvement against the Browns. He completed 10-of-13 passes for 86 yards and was able to lead the offense on one touchdown drive. There isn’t much question about his status. He will be the Giants’ backup quarterback this season. So this lets them feel a little better about that decision.

  • LB Oshane Ximines, who made it through only four games last season, had a nice sack on a 3rd and goal situation for the Browns in the first quarter. LB Carter Coughlin flushed Browns QB Case Keenum out of the pocket, and Ximines stayed with him and tracked him down. The Browns scored on the 4th down anyway, but it was good to see Ximines’ speed at work, and not just on that play. He was a consistent disruptive presence in the first half. The Giants have him in the mix of players they are hoping will develop as a secondary pass rusher to help out Leonard Williams, so this was definitely a good sign.

  • Speaking of pressure, LB Carter Coughlin has been getting terrific pressure from an inside position. He was an edge player in college and last year, but the Giants want him to move inside. If he can use his speed there, like he has been, he could really help the pass rush. He’s certainly making a case to be on the field more, though his lack of coverage skills might be a reason to keep him off except for in obvious pass-rushing situations.

  • It might be an uphill battle for veteran CB Quincy Wilson to make this team, considering how deep the Giants’ secondary is, but at least he got noticed on Sunday. He made a touchdown saving interception in the end zone in the second quarter – though to be fair, Keenum put the ball right in his hands.

Aug 22, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Giants cornerback Madre Harper (45) knocks the ball from Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins (82) during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Aug 22, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Giants cornerback Madre Harper (45) knocks the ball from Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins (82) during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium.

  • The Giants starting offensive line was LT Jackson Barton, LG Kenny Wiggins, C Jonotthan Harrison, RG Ted Larsen and RT Chad Slade. They looked better than they did in the preseason opener, so that was encouraging. The Giants still have to be worried about their offensive line depth, though.

  • The Giants’ first five spots at receiver are probably set with Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, John Ross and Kadarius Toney. That’s set up quite a battle for spot No. 6 (and maybe 7, if the Giants decide to keep that many). David Sills looked like he was in the lead after the first preseason game, and he probably still is. Sills had 3 catches for 31 yards and touchdown in this game. That included 19-yarder at the end of the third quarter when he had to reach way up for a high pass thrown by third-string QB Brian Lewerke, and a nice contested, 8-yard touchdown catch in the fourth.

  • Lewerke wasn’t bad considering he was signed by the Giants just six days earlier. Using what surely was a very limited playbook, he looked solid, completing 11 of his 19 passes for 108 yards, one touchdown, and one game-ending interception on what was basically a Hail Mary attempt.

  • Quite an up-and-down game from Giants rookie CB Rodarius Williiams. At times he looked terrific in coverage, even breaking up a pass. At times he looked lost. He also was late getting to the edge on a 5-yard touchdown run to the outside by Browns RB John Kelly, seemingly misreading the play. The Giants love the talent of their sixth-round pick, but his inconsistency has been maddening. By the way, he also got some snaps at safety late in the game.

  • WR Matt Cole, who was claimed off waivers from the Jets two weeks ago, got a few snaps in t defensive back late in the game. He also returned one kickoff (though only for 13 yards) and was a gunner on punt coverage. Seems like the Giants are trying hard to find a reason to keep him, though a spot on the practice squad is more likely.

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