The New York Giants kept things vanilla in their preseason opener against the New England Patriots in a 23-21 victory. While it's always good to get a win at any point in the calendar, what is most significant is how the players performed when given an opportunity.
The quarterbacks were a perfect example of the good, the great, and the ugly of football. Daniel Jones was decent in his couple of series; he produced a good drive that ended with a disappointing field goal and a drive that stalled.
He gave way to Tyrod Taylor, who looked great on his 86-yard touchdown drive where he converted a 3rd-and-12 on the Giants' 19-yard line to jumpstart the drive and threw the only touchdown pass to Richie James.
Davis Webb was behind center for the team's three second-half scoring drives (a touchdown and two field goals), yet he only completed eight of 16 passes for an average of 3.2 yards per completion.
The rest of the team had players whose stock rose and a few that value fell due to their performance.
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Antonio Williams | RB
Williams spent time with the Bills in 2020, and even though he did not play last season, he must have retained a lot of information from that time because he looked as if he had a thorough understanding of his role in this offense.
He carried the ball nine times for 61 yards and a 2-yard touchdown run. Those are double-digit numbers in fantasy football. All his yards didn’t come on one play; if you remove his longest run of the evening (19 yards), he still averaged 5.25 yards per rush.
Jashaun Corbin | RB
Corbin seemed to be used all over the place. The Florida State product and undrafted free agent ran the ball six times, had five receptions on six targets, and had three kickoff returns for 74 yards.
He brings a diverse set of skills that the coaching staff is finding ways to exploit. He has even been practicing returning punts in training camp, even though he did not get that opportunity in the game Thursday.
Richie James | WR
James seemed to pick up where he left off from his 2020 performance as a member of the 49ers. In the preseason opener, James recorded the only touchdown reception for the team on a play that came in the green zone when he hit the defender in the slot with a sick stop-and-go move opening to the outside and then whipped around inside and up the field where Taylor found him.
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James, who finished the game with three receptions for 44 yards (14.7 yards/catch), seems to have retained his wiggle after injuries saw him miss the 2021 season. If that is indeed the case, it gives the Giants another shifty weapon in the passing game.
Darrian Beavers | LB
Beavers looked tough in the middle. Getting the start for incumbent middle linebacker Blake Martinez, who didn't make the trip, Beavers has been one of the standouts of training camp defensively, and he carried that momentum into the first preseason game.
The rookie helped the defense hold the Patriots rushing attack to 2.9 average rush per carry. And he finished his day with three solo tackles and one tackle for loss.
He was also responsible for clogging a few holes, making it possible for others to collect a tackle. There are still questions about his coverage ability, but he is carving himself a spot as a contributor in this defense.
Austin Calitro | LB
When you produce the only turnover for the defense, it is difficult to say your stock is not on the rise. Calitro's interception of a Bailey Zappe pass to stop a drive that had advanced into Giants territory was the catalyst for Graham Gano's 40-yard field goal.
Calitro, tied for second on the team in tackles (4, 2 solos) with fellow linebacker Micah McFadden, also had a hit on the quarterback and a pass breakup. The Villanova product has carved out an improbable four-year career thus far, spending those four seasons with four different teams. The Giants are the fifth stop, and one that he's probably hoping will be his last for a while.
Aaron Robinson | CB
Not only did Robinson get a taunting call on a pass breakup in the end zone, but he also gave up the first touchdown of the day when he lost coverage on the Patriots receiver (the same guy he held) in the back of the end zone.
Robinson, who is projected to be the new starter opposite of Adoree Jackson, has not been the cleanest so far throughout training camp. This performance alone probably isn't enough to result in his losing that starting status, but he needs to be better if he wants to remove any doubts about his ability to be a part of the starting lineup.
Collin Johnson | WR
Johnson’s stock should be up after a seven-reception, 82-yard performance, but he turned the ball over once. When you are fighting to make the back end of a roster, one turnover can negate all of the good you did before it.
As such, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Johnson lands on our watch list, where we'll see if he can turn n a cleaner game next week when the Giants host the Bengals.
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