Last week the Giants were scrambling to find bodies at defensive tackle, but now that it’s been determined that Marvin Austin (back) could return soon and Shaun Rogers (blood clot) hasn’t been lost for the season, depth doesn’t seem to be as big of an issue. New York did sign veteran Marcus Thomas, who is coming off a career-high 43 tackles in a career-low 12 games with the Broncos in 2011, but he’s far from learning the defense and might not have enough time to win a job.
And even though Austin is eyeing his return and Rogers could theoretically reappear, roster space is still at a premium. General manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin will have extremely difficult decisions, and fans can expect to see some well-known players getting cut.
Stock rising: Offensive tackle Sean Locklear continues to practice at left tackle in the absence of starter Will Beatty (back) and now seems certain to make the 53-man roster. Because of the versatility of Locklear, right tackle David Diehl and left guard Kevin Boothe, there are many different possible permutations of the offensive line. If Beatty’s back is a short-term problem, expect Locklear to start the season at left tackle. But if Beatty is going to be out for awhile, Diehl could move to the left side with James Brewer starting at right tackle.
Stock falling: Da’Rel Scott was the last Giants running back to make an appearance in the second preseason game, and unless Coughlin really values Scott’s work as an off-returner, Scott might not have a role on this team. It’s not that Scott has done anything wrong, but the fastest back at the 2011 NFL Draft Combine isn’t providing anything that D.J. Ware and David Wilson don’t offer.
QB -- In (2): Eli Manning, David Carr. Out: Ryan Perrilloux. Analysis: This isn’t brain surgery. The Giants keep two quarterbacks and Perrilloux was never much competition for Carr as Manning’s backup.
RB -- In (4): Ahmad Bradshaw, D.J. Ware and David Wilson (FB) Henry Hynoski. Out: Andre Brown, Da'Rel Scott , Joe Martinek Analysis: Scott’s training-camp injuries prevented him from competing for a role on offense, and despite his obvious talents, there might not be room for him.
WR -- In (6): Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Ramses Barden, Domenik Hixon, Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan. Out: Julian Talley, Isaiah Stanback, Brandon Collins, David Douglas and Dan DePalma. Analysis: If there are two guys “on notice,” it’s Barden and Jernigan. Barden struggled against the Jets (just as he did in the 2011 regular season), and Jernigan didn’t get a chance to return a punt. Jernigan did make two nice catches in the preseason win, and he’s still the top backup in the slot behind Cruz.
TE -- In (3): Bear Pascoe, Martellus Bennett, and Adrien Robinson Out: Christian Hopkins, Ryan Purvis and Larry Donnell. PUP: Travis Beckum (knee) Analysis: In a perfect world, the Giants would be able to send Robinson to the minor leagues or something, but as things stand, he’s likely going to be on the 53-man roster. Of course, Robinson comes from a school (Cincinnati) that hardly used its tight ends, so he’s extremely raw. The Giants could stash Robinson on the practice squad, but it’s unlikely he would clear waivers, given his natural athletic ability. That’s bad news for Hopkins, who is an excellent blocker.
OL -- In (10): Beatty, Locklear, Brewer, David Baas, Matt McCants, Brandon Mosley, Boothe, Diehl, Jim Cordle and Chris Snee Out: Selvish Capers, Joel Reinders, Stephen Goodin, Mitch Petrus and Chris White. Analysis: It’s not that Cordle is significantly better than Petrus, but he can play center, which isn’t something the Giants have ever tried with Petrus. Mosely can’t really contribute now -- and if his ankle injury were remotely serious, the Giants would gladly put him on IR -- but he has talent and could eventually blossom into something, and that’s his ticket to a roster spot.
DL -- In (10): Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Austin, Rocky Bernard, Rogers, Dwayne Hendricks, Linval Joseph, Adrian Tracy and Markus Kuhn Out: Matt Broha, Craig Marshall , Adewale Ojomo, Carlton Powell, and Marcus Thomas. PUP: Chris Canty (knee) Analysis: It’s unfortunate for Hendricks that Rogers wasn’t moved to IR because that could cost him a roster spot. Also, it looks like Canty might have to start the season on PUP. As things stand, Hendricks could make the 53-man roster but get released when Canty returns.
LB -- In (6): Chase Blackburn, Michael Boley, Mark Herzlich, Mathias Kiwanuka, Keith Rivers and Jacquian Williams Out: Greg Jones, Jake Muasau and Spencer Paysinger. Analysis: The Giants were in desperate need of linebackers last season, and now it appears that they’ll end up cutting three decent ones. Muasau has been impressive at several positions, but he has no real chance of making the team out of camp.
DB -- In (9): Prince Amukamara, Michael Coe, Jayron Hosley, Terrell Thomas, Corey Webster, Will Hill, Kenny Phillips, Tyler Sash (suspended for four games) and Antrel Rolle. Out: Brandon Bing, Dante Hughes, Bruce Johnson, Justin Tryon, Antwaun Molden, Jojo Nicolas, Stevie Brown, Laron Scott and Chris Horton. Analysis: The Giants could keep Tryon around while Sash is suspended to see how Thomas’ knee recovers. If the joint doesn’t respond to treatment, Thomas could go back on IR and Tryon would stay on the team. But if Thomas’ knee does improve, Tryon could get cut when Sash returns.
Special teams -- In (3): Lawrence Tynes, Steve Weatherford and Zak DeOssie. Out: Nobody. Analysis: These three spots are set in stone, regardless of who posted locker-room shenanigans on YouTube.