The New York Giants played their first game of 2016 against the Miami Dolphins, a game that resulted in a 27-10 loss. Despite poor play going down the stretch of the game, there were many bright spots. The Giants' first team offense and defense looked very sharp. The Giants' defense didn't let the Dolphins' offense get a first down in the entire first quarter. This is a huge improvement from last season's defense. The talent that Jerry Reese added to the team seems to be proving their worth so far. Here are three players who shined in the New York Giants' first preseason game.
The hype surrounding Sterling Shepard is real. The rookie wide receiver proved it in his preseason debut with the team. Shepard had more than one bright spot in this game. He started by making an important block that resulted in a huge gain by Giants' running back Shane Vereen. Not only can Shepard block, but his playmaking ability seems to be on par too.Shepard caught a 25-yard pass thrown by Giants' backup quarterback Ryan Nassib. The pass was clearly thrown late and the defender appeared to give up on the play. Shepard kept his eyes on the ball and happened to make a play. His catch inside the 10-yard line led to an eventual score by Rashad Jennings. Shepard was only inches away from scoring a touchdown at another point in the game, but the ball was overthrown by Nassib. His route running skills are very sharp and he has the ability to be a major threat in 2016. If Shepard can make plays like that with a backup quarterback, imagine what he could do with Eli Manning at the helm.
When Jerry Reese signed Johathan Casillas in 2015, it was to add more depth at linebacker. In the first quarter, Casillas almost had two interceptions. The first was a botched pass that was deflected back in the air by a Miami Dolphins' receiver. Casillas caught the deflected ball but had a toe out of bounds. The second time around, Casillas made up for his footwork by intercepting Matt Moore at the end of the first quarter. Casillas intercepted one pass all of last year. There's a very good chance that he is going to break his "personal team record" this season.
Casillas got to see some playing time last year, but he didn't make the New York Giants' linebacking corps any better. The Giants' linebackers have been known to be the weakest unit on their defense for the past few years. However, with the emergence of Devon Kennard and the improved play of Casillas, that may change in 2016.
New York Giants' general manager Jerry Reese was highly-criticized for drafting Eli Apple with the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Apple was widely considered to be a late first round talent. Reese is historically known for having "hit or miss" draft classes and this years' class is going to be a hit. Reese obviously saw something the other coaches and general managers may not have seen in Apple. Apple started to prove that theory right in his debut with the team.
Apple was all over the field in the first quarter of the game. His coverage wasn't too shabby either. Before leaving with what seemed to be a leg strain, Apple recovered a fumble on a punt return. New York Giants' head coach Ben McAdoo isn't shy about starting rookies. It's safe to say that Apple is guaranteed to see a lot of playing time this preseason and even during the regular season. In the coming weeks, Apple's talent can be more accurately evaluated. From what was seen thus far, Jerry Reese didn't make a mistake drafting Apple.
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