Giants GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll have to cut their 80-man roster to 53 by 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Sunday’s preseason finale against the Jets is the last chance for players to make their cases.
Here are four things to watch for the Giants, this weekend’s visitors at MetLife Stadium:
1. CAN SLAYTON STAVE OFF THE INEVITABLE?
Darius Slayton projects as a possible (likely) cut early next week if Schoen can’t swing an 11th-hour trade for a limited return.
Slayton is the seventh receiver at best on the Giants’ depth chart, possibly the eighth. And that’s only because of Collin Johnson’s season-ending injury.
Cutting or trading Slayton would create $2.54 million of salary cap space, too, per overthecap.com. And the cap-strapped Giants need all the room they can get to upgrade.
Slayton, 25, might get lucky and stick around because of the Giants’ many injuries at receiver, from Johnson to Kadarius Toney (hamstring?) to C.J. Board (ribs). Slayton isn’t a sure thing to play Sunday either, because he’s been injured himself.
But if he plays, Slayton will be auditioning in a last gasp to make the Giants’ roster — and for the NFL’s 31 other teams, as well.
At the moment, the top of the receiver depth chart includes Sterling Shepard, Kenny Golladay, Wan’Dale Robinson, David Sills, Toney, Board, Richie James and Slayton.
2. WHICH CORNERS WILL TURN A CORNER?
The competition behind first-string corners Adoree Jackson, Aaron Robinson and Darnay Holmes is wide open. Zyon Gilbert, rookies Cor’Dale Flott and Darren Evans, Olaijah Griffin, and newcomer Harrison Hand are all players to watch.
Flott, a third-round pick out of LSU, missed the second preseason game with a groin injury. So he needs to get more game experience and continue auditioning for a regular season role.
The starting three corners also need to push themselves to raise their level, if they play. It would shock no one if Schoen sought help at the No. 2 outside corner position either through a waiver claim, signing or trade next week.
3. CAN ROCHE CREATE AN EDGE?
Quincy Roche was brought along slowly to open camp coming off an undisclosed injury early in the year. But he’s noticeably far behind Oshane Ximines on the depth chart, a perplexing reality that requires a big preseason finale from Roche to make his case.
The Giants are decimated by injury all over, including at edge. Kayvon Thibodeaux (sprained right MCL), Azeez Ojulari (right calf), Elerson Smith (right foot) and Jihad Ward (undisclosed) are all banged up. That leaves Ximines, Roche and rookie Tomon Fox as the only true edges playing in Sunday’s game.
That spells opportunity for Roche, a holdover from last season, to make a splash in his final preseason action.
Some other bubble players or battles to watch: offensive linemen Devery Hamilton and Jamil Douglas; running backs Gary Brightwell and Jashaun Corbin; defensive lineman Ryder Anderson; wideout Alex Bachman.
4. WILL DABOLL CLEAN UP THE OPERATION?
Daboll strangely declined a Bengals holding penalty on 3rd and 16 from the Giants’ 32 last week. That allowed Cincinnati’s Evan McPherson to kick a 50-yard field goal.
“Probably should have [taken] them back, to be honest with you,” Daboll admitted postgame.
Special teams were lacking against Cincy, too.
Ximines committed a holding penalty to negate a big Board punt return. Board fumbled away another punt. And Holmes was among the players who lost contain on a 73-yard kick return by the Bengals’ Chris Evans.
The Giants’ Darren Evans and Carter Coughlin were whistled for roughing the passer penalties on Cincinnati QBs.
And then on Friday, there was an animated exchange between Daboll and O-line coach Bobby Johnson during practice as they worked something out with the offense.
The Giants already have a roster thin on talent and decimated by injuries. They need their functional operation on game day to be clean. This exhibition against the Jets is another opportunity to get there.