By Brad Carroll
The NFL preseason for fans is all about getting to see the new additions to their team, whether it be free agents, players obtained through trades or rookies. Sure, there are position battles to watch play out, and some even care about the wins and losses, but for most, the exhibition slate is all about those new players.
For Giants fans, Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Browns was all about seeing rookie running back Saquon Barkley make his debut. And, boy, he did not disappoint despite a 20-10 loss to the Baker Mayfield-led Browns. Barkley’s debut carry electrified the crowd and had everyone talking about what could lie ahead this season.
Barkley was the talk of the game, for sure, but he wasn’t the only player who garnered the fan’s attention. There was plenty else to digest from the opening loss, and we’ll take you through the biggest things we learned Thursday night.
Barkley Could Be Everything We Thought He Would Be
Now that was an exciting debut, wasn’t it? Sure, it was only one carry, but it was worth the price of admission alone. On his first carry in a Giants uniform, Barkley went for 39 yards, igniting the MetLife Stadium crowd and fans watching at home. It was the one thing everyone was talking about during the game and after. "Everybody talks about the speed difference in the NFL, but to see you still have that burst and you can get to that line of scrimmage like that and create space; I just have to find a way to gain even more yards than that," Barkley said after the game. Barkley had three other carries that totalled just four yards, but that opening carry was exactly the type of explosiveness the Giants are hoping he brings to the team all season long. It’s been a long time since the Giants had any semblance of a running game, but Barkley gave everyone hope he could be a star in the making.
Davis Webb Isn’t Ready For Primetime
Fans desperately wanted to see backup quarterback Davis Webb play at the end of last season, only having to watch Geno Smith get one start and Eli Manning finish things off after a controversial string of decisions that cost coach Ben McAdoo his job instead. But maybe that was a good thing after watching Webb against the Browns Thursday. Webb was, in a word, terrible, missing receivers high and wide and looking like a passer on the fringe of a roster spot rather than an expected No. 2 behind Manning this season. Webb completed just 9-of-22 passes for 70 yards for a 49.6 rating. Rookie Kyle Lauletta was better, completing 6-of-9 passes for 48 yards in much less action. It’s only the preseason opener, so there’s plenty of time to change the narrative, but this wasn’t a good night for Webb.
Offensive Line Still Needs Work
The Giants offensive line allowed two sacks, five tackles for a loss of yardage and five quarterback hits against the Browns, not a good sign considering the struggles from last season. The Giants did rush for 134 yards and a touchdown, which is a good sign. But take away Barkley’s opening run, and the running game finished with 95 yards on 22 carries, a more pedestrian number.