He despises the suggestion that coaches wait until halftime to make in-game adjustments. The other: calling a team’s third preseason game the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season.
“People are starting to divert their opinions as to the importance of playing your players in the preseason games,” Shurmur said.
The Giants head to Cincinnati for Thursday night’s preseason game against the Bengals (7 p.m. ET, streaming on NFL gamepass) with the same goal of doing everything they can to prep for the Week 1 showdown against the Cowboys. To that end, Shurmur isn’t planning on any drastic departures from his personnel deployment over the first two games.
“Generally speaking, I see us playing the game a lot like we did the first two,” Shurmur said. “I still think we’ve got some guys that are in the second and third group that we have to see. … You’ll see the one’s a little bit, too. Maybe more than a little bit.
“In terms of practice, this is a good little stretch here. We had the game on Friday. We were off Saturday. [Sunday] was a very physical, hot practice. We took advantage of the heat today. We did some good situational work that was very physical in the heat. These two practices are very, very important. Just in the big picture, getting ultimately 53 guys ready to play Day One. That won’t have as much of a bearing on what I do Thursday night, as it’s just an important thing to do this time of camp.”
Here are three things to watch against the Bengals:
Shurmur continues to play things close to the vest regarding playing time in the preseason, so consider all of these predictions based on information available, the facts of which will be revealed Thursday night.
I don’t expect to see Saquon Barkley play until Week 1 in Dallas. I do think there’s a chance we see Evan Engram for the first time. All four quarterbacks should again play, but if it’s just Eli Manning and then Daniel Jones, I won’t be surprised. Rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton should make his debut after missing the first two weeks with a hamstring injury. Would not be surprised if Alec Ogletree (calf) sits this one out again.
Not counting on seeing DeAndre Baker (knee), Sam Beal (hamstring) or Antonio Hamilton (groin), which brings us to our next thing to watch …
It’s been remarkable to watch rookie Corey Ballentine’s ascension at cornerback, and much of that has come through necessity. That’s not saying Ballentine has not earned his opportunities, because he has, but this has certainly been a baptism by fire.
The sixth-round pick from Division II Washburn is making the most of his chances, to the point where he will likely be starting opposite Janoris Jenkins against the Bengals.
Two others who would be pushing for first and second team reps in Beal and Hamilton are not playing. Shurmur said he isn’t concerned about the Giants’ numbers at cornerback, but after Ballentine, it’s Henre Tolliver and Ronald Zamort – provided they don’t move starting nickel Grant Haley and rookie Julian Love outside.
Counting on the youth
The Giants need contributions at all three levels on defense from rookies and second-year players. And in some instances, the contributions will have to be significant if the Giants are going to emerge as the playoff contenders they hope to be.
“We have a lot of young guys,’’ Shurmur said. “We have to see if they can take it from the meeting room to the practice field and then play hard out here with emotion.’’
Veterans such as outside linebacker Kareem Martin and defensive tackle John Jenkins might typically find themselves fighting for roster spots at this point. The depth behind them suggests they are in position to be on the active roster, which might come as a surprise with such a large group of young players.