The preseason mercifully ended. But not before the New York Giants' thrilling 40-38 victory over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night in their final exhibition game of the season.
It was a game that didn’t lack offense, but was lacking starting-caliber players. Both teams rested most of their starters. Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Odell Beckham Jr. and the likes spent the evening on the sideline. That left an opportunity for others to shine.
Without the benefit of film review, here were the Giants that impressed and struggled in their final chance to make an impression and earn a spot on the roster or practice squad this year:
K Aldrick Rosas: The Giants gave him an opportunity to kick his way on to the roster. Rosas nailed it. His 48-yard field goal with no time remaining served as the clincher. He went 4-for-4 on field goals on Thursday night and 8-for-8 this preseason. The 22-year-old kicker earned himself a roster spot.
TE Matt LaCosse: He finally was able to translate what he does on a regular basis at practice to the playing field in games. LaCosse had two touchdown grabs (25 and 2 yards) and made a key block on a 1-yard touchdown run by Shaun Draughn in the second quarter. He also made a pair of tough catches on the game-winning drive in the final seconds. LaCosse finished with five catches on five targets for 60 yards, and he clearly outdueled his competition for what appears to be the final tight end spot on the roster. It wasn’t an accident that Will Tye and LaCosse received most of the first-half snaps in the final preseason game.
LB J.T. Thomas: The veteran linebacker hadn’t played much this summer and preseason as he recovered from a torn ACL last year. This was a big game for Thomas, who started at weakside linebacker. He needed to prove he’s fully recovered and moving well. Thomas appeared to pass the test. He knifed into the backfield early in the contest to ruin a running play. He also forced a fumble later in the first half. This is what the Giants needed to see from Thomas. They already know he can be a quality special-teams player.
QBs Geno Smith and Josh Johnson: Both players in the backup quarterback competition thrived in their final audition this season. Smith went 10-of-11 passing for 111 yards and a touchdown playing into the second quarter. Johnson went 11-of-14 passing for 135 yards and a touchdown playing into the third quarter. Both quarterbacks were close to perfect, showed poise in the pocket and made choosing Manning's backup a tough call for the Giants' coaches.
TE Will Tye: He just can’t fumble on the opening drive when he’s on the roster bubble. It negates all the other good (four catches for 48 yards) he did in the contest.
CB Donte Deayon: He had played so well this summer and preseason. But allowing a touchdown while playing on the outside could create doubts. Deayon has trouble handling bigger players on the outside. It’s part of what limits him as a cornerback.
S Nat Berhe: He missed several tackles, including one that resulted in a touchdown by New England’s Austin Carr. Berhe appeared to have the inside track on a roster spot until this effort. Wonder if this forces the Giants to reassess the situation now. Doubtful, but possible.