Four Giants starters may return to boost the roster

Four Giants starters may return to boost the roster

If playing on Thursday is agony for a player’s body, then not playing on Sunday and having 10 days between games is paradise.

As they weathered their first two-game losing skid of the season, the pressure on the Giants’ roster was glaringly visible. They rested throughout the weekend following their 28-20 loss to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and when they return to work on Monday, they will be healthier than before.

There is optimism that several injured players, notably cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson, Fabian Moreau, and maybe Aaron Robinson, guard Shane Lemieux, and safety Tony Jefferson, will return to the field in the near future. Xavier McKinney, a crucial defensive player, is out following surgery to repair shattered fingers, and his return date is unknown.

There is a possibility that four starters, including three key offensive players, will be able to play when the Giants face the Commanders at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Here is a closer look at those four players and what they could add to the cause:

Ben Bredeson, Guard

If playing on Thursday is agony for a player’s body, then not playing on Sunday and having 10 days between games is paradise.

As they weathered their first two-game losing skid of the season, the pressure on the Giants’ roster was glaringly visible. They rested throughout the weekend following their 28-20 loss to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and when they return to work on Monday, they will be healthier than before.

There is optimism that several injured players, notably cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson, Fabian Moreau, and maybe Aaron Robinson, guard Shane Lemieux, and safety Tony Jefferson, will return to the field in the near future. Xavier McKinney, a crucial defensive player, is out following surgery to repair shattered fingers, and his return date is unknown.

There is a possibility that four starters, including three key offensive players, will be able to play when the Giants face the Commanders at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Azeez Ojulari, OLB

Ojulari’s 2022 season could be a total loss, and it is often easy to forget that he was meant to be such an integral part of the Giants’ development. So long has he been absent from the action. Before training camp, Ojulari had a hamstring strain and began the summer on the non-football injury list. Midway through August, he resurfaced, but only lasted 11 days before injuring his calf in a joint practice with the Jets and missing the first two games. He returned and played in the Week 3 loss to the Cowboys and recorded a sack in the Week 4 victory over the Bears, but suffered another calf strain in that game and was placed on injured reserve. As a rookie, Ojulari led the club with eight sacks, and the intention was for him to anchor one side of the defensive front, with rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux forming a bookend edge-rush combination on the opposite side of the field. Ojulari should be ready to return off injured reserve. Can he A) maintain his health, B) rediscover his form, and C) become an influential defender?

Evan Neal, Right Tackle

There was never any doubt that Neal, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, would start right tackle immediately. Neal played in 83 percent of the offensive snaps through the first seven games before suffering a sprained knee against the Jaguars. In Week 2 against the Cowboys, he allowed three sacks to DeMarcus Lawrence, but he was a steady and physically imposing presence as a run blocker, and his sheer size made it impossible for defenders to get around him. Neal was progressing before being placed on injured reserve. According to Pro Football Focus, his replacement, Tyre Phillips, received a significantly better grade than Neal. The return of Neal should benefit Saquon Barkley and the ground game, however.

Daniel Bellinger, Tight End

The rookie drafted in the fourth round out of San Diego State was evidently an immediate contributor from day one. He demonstrated himself to be a respectable and improving blocker and established a rapport with Daniel Jones. Bellinger was efficient. On 18 targets, he grabbed 16 catches for 152 yards and scored twice to demonstrate his red-zone threat. He suffered a horrific injury to his left eye in Jacksonville, necessitating surgery to repair a fracture in his eye socket and damage to his septum. Prior to the Dallas game, he worked out vigorously while wearing a protective visor on his facemask. His double vision has subsided. He was not placed on injured reserve, and it appears he will be able to play in the upcoming game.

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