Giants’ tight receiver competition will be key thing to watch vs. Lions

DETROIT — The summer is a time for wide receivers and all pass catchers to thrive and prosper in the relative safety of training camp environs, unafraid, as Giants tight end Darren Waller put it, that a defensive player is going to “put a forearm in your ribs when you run over the middle.’’ 

Some of that roughhousing was on display this week when the Giants and Lions engaged in two days of joint practices.

Much more of that will take place Friday night when the two teams tangle in their preseason opener at Ford Field. 

The competition at every position group is real, and it is especially robust among quarterback Daniel Jones’ targets.

What the Giants do not have is a clearly identified No. 1 receiver, but what they do have is what appears to be more balanced and deeper talent at that spot, which means the roster considerations will make for interesting viewing. 

The three starters could be set, with Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins outside and Parris Campbell in the slot.

There is a place for speedy rookie Jalin Hyatt.

Cole Beasley i
Cole Beasley is in a battle to make the Giants’ roster at slot receiver.
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

There should be a place for either Cole Beasley or Jamison Crowder as slot options.

If Sterling Shepard’s recovery from ACL surgery does not hit a snag — thus far, he is on pace to be ready for the start of the regular season — his versatility and spirit will make it difficult to cast him aside. 

There are the tallest options, Collin Johnson, who is 6-foot-6 and coming off a torn ACL, and undrafted rookie Bryce Ford-Wheaton, who is 6-3.

There should be an opening on the roster for one of them and a place on the practice squad for the other.

David Sills has been a constant plugger for a few years and he is always capable of making some noise with a strong showing in a preseason game.

Jaydon Mickens and Kalil Pimpleton need to show they can be special teams contributors. 

Who will play at receiver Friday, how much and who will throw the ball to them are all pertinent questions.

Last year, head coach Brian Daboll played the starters one quarter in the preseason opener against the Patriots, even though New England’s Bill Belichick went exclusively with backups.

Everything back then was brand-new for the Giants: Daboll’s offense, installing offensive coordinator Mike Kafka as a play-caller and defensive players adapting to coordinator Wink Martindale’s pressure-filled scheme.

Daboll felt his first units, still in learning mode, needed the work. 

David Sills
David Sills could make noise with a big preseason game.

This year, everything is established and it is all about fine-tuning, rather than basic installation.

Daboll watched his team go through two highly productive joint practices with the Lions and that work likely will allow him to sit his starters and make this preseason opener about building the back half of the roster. 

During the joint practices, Jones and the passing game, in particular, rebounded from a sluggish performance on Day 1 with a much more efficient showing on Day 2. 

“It was just kind of frustrating because as a competitor you feel like you give them a false confidence because they feel like they did good and it’s not really anything they did, it’s on us,’’ Hodgins said. “I feel like we went out there and proved that. 

Jamison Crowder makes a catch during Giants practice on July 31.
Jamison Crowder makes a catch during Giants practice on July 31.
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

“It feels real good, just to actually run some of our concepts and some of our stuff versus other people who haven’t been seeing it for six months straight. It’s definitely a refresher for us.’’ 

All the receivers who get in the game will look to make an impression, and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor and No. 3 Tommy DeVito likely will get all, or the bulk of, the snaps. 

Taylor, 34, got into only three games in a mop-up role in 2022, his first year with the Giants, as Jones stayed healthy the entire way.

In the regular-season finale, Daboll opted to sit Jones and start Davis Webb, the third-string quarterback, rather than go with Taylor, cognizant that Webb was strongly considering retiring and heading into coaching.

Webb is currently the Broncos’ quarterbacks coach, while Taylor is entering his 13th NFL season. 

“Anytime I get the chance to lace my shoes up and go out there and play the game that I grew up wanting to play, I’m excited for it,” Taylor told the team’s website. “I hope the reps come. I’m definitely excited for it. Excited to go out there to compete for one another, but also showcase what I can do as well.’’

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
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