Here are some potential storylines for the Giants-Browns’ matchup Thursday night at Met Life:
No. 1 VS. NO. 2 – The NFL Network, which is broadcasting the game as part of season-opening doubleheader, has billed the game as the top two picks facing each other. How much will we see of Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley?
Mayfield likely will see action in the second half behind starter Tyrod Taylor. Barkley’s debut is one of the most anticipated in recent Giants’ history, but head coach Pat Shurmur has been mum about the issue.
Aside from his quickness to find a hole on the ground, Barkley recently was dazzling catching passes out of the backfield. Look for him to log some meaningful minutes in the opening half., and the screams will be heard to Long Island if he breaks a long run.
WILL BECKHAM PLAY? – The other buzz around Giants’ camp is whether Odell Beckham Jr. will play. Again, Shurmur dodged the bullet.
“Every player will receive the consideration necessary with regard to the play time,” said Shurmur. “They’re all at different stages of being ready to play in Week 1. We’ll just try to balance it and make good decisions.”
Hmm…Beckham should get time with the first-team offense in the opening half. He hasn’t show any signs of slowing from his ankle injury and needs some game-time action. There are plenty of new faces on this offense and the chemistry bonds need to mixed.
Beckham is invaluable and can be a fuse for this potential powder keg of an offense, but he needs to get hit.
WHO’S WHO AT LINEBACKER — One of the major keys for success will be how Alec Ogletree fits and how Olivier Vernon bounces back in the new 3-4 scheme under James Bettcher.
Vernon will now move to the outside and he and Ogletree can be a two-man wrecking crew. The Giants are still hopeful Vernon can provide a pass rush at his SAM spot. Rookie Lorenzo Carter has been one of the most electric players in camp, and the team’s is anxious to see his impact.
B.J. Goodson, who had a good preseason last season before he spent most of his seasonal time on the disabled list, is healthy and should have a good year. Connor Barwin, who was recently signed as a free agent, also can provide some pressure from the outside.
This core will be one to watch as well as the battle for depth spots.
OFFENSIVE LINE MIX — With all the hype around Barkley and the defense, the blending of the offensive line has gone rather unnoticed.
Keep an eye on the progression of tackles Nate Solder and Ereck Flowers along with guards Patrick Omameh and Will Hernandez and center Jon Halapio. This was general manager Dave Gettleman’s first priority with the signing of Solder and the trade for Omameh along with the eventual drafting of Hernandez. Holdovers John Jerry and Brett Jones provide depth at possibly one of the team’s deepest spots.
SPECIAL TEAMS — Aldrick Rosas is back at kicker after a rather mediocre year, and Riley Dixon was acquired from Denver to punt.
A battle will be in the return department where Cody Latimer, Kalif Raymond, and Hunter Sharp will square off for position.