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5 Players to Watch in Friday’s Preseason Game vs Lions

The New York Giants opened this week with two competitive joint training camp practices at Allen Park on Tuesday and Wednesday. Today, the G-Men will play their first preseason game of the 2023-24 season against the Detroit Lions. Here are five Giants players we think you should look out for in Friday’s game.

1. Jalin Hyatt

The story kind of writes itself for Giants wide receiver Jalin Hyatt as his training camp so far has been nothing short of impressive. Hyatt was highlighted in our previous article where we gave shoutouts to a few players who stood out after the first week of training camp (Read More Here: https://www.fansfirstsports.com/nfl/5-players-that-stood-out-in-week-1-of-new-york-giants-training-camp/).

“Definitely a blessing for me, just to go out there with the guys, my teammates,” said Hyatt when asked by reporters about playing in his first NFL game. “I’m ready to show what I can do. It’s going to be fun. I’ve always wanted to be in the league, always wanted to be in the NFL. To be here with the Giants is a dream come true.”

After trading up early into the third round to select the speedy wideout, the Giants know how much talent Hyatt possesses and there is no better time than showing his skill set off in his first ever NFL game. Head coach Brian Daboll and the Giants coaching staff can only hope that the former Volunteer can scare opposing defenses with crisp route running and out-of-this-world speed.

2. John Michael Schmitz

This list consists of all rookies and Schmitz could very well be the most important one from the 2023 New York Giants draft class. The former Golden Gopher was a first-team All-American in his fifth year at Minnesota before being drafted in the second round. With this pick, Big Blue hopes to have found a center for the future with one goal of protecting quarterback Daniel Jones.

However, in this game, Schmitz will most likely be taking his snaps with the backup QBs and the question of chemistry between players will be something to keep an eye on.

“You’ve got to take a moment, It’s about the little things in life, just walking out on the field for the first time is going to be something special,” Schmitz said when speaking to the media about the game on Friday. “You’ve got to always be thankful for every opportunity you’re given and grateful for it, you can’t let it slip by. I’ve been playing this game since I was five years old. It was always a dream of mine to play in the NFL. Now we’re here and now it’s just to take advantage of those opportunities you’re given and don’t look back, just take it one play at a time, one practice at a time, and just go on from there.”

One final note about the “starting center” is that he was recently placed in that role on the New York Giants’ first unofficial depth chart this past Tuesday.

3. Jordon Riley

So far in this list, we have discussed a couple of popular names, but that really isn’t what preseason is all about. As Giants fans, we know about the impact late round and undrafted gems can have (Victor Cruz, Ahmad Bradshaw, etc.).

The Ducks defensive lineman was selected 243rd overall in this year’s draft and has quietly been having a very solid camp. With injuries to Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A’Shawn Robinson, along with multiple rest days for Leonard Williams, Riley has gotten more than his fair share of opportunities.

We have seen Riley run with the 1st team in team drills and even win several reps in one-on-ones against interior lineman Mark Glowinski and John Michael Schmitz.

With Leonard Williams and All-Pro defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence most likely playing a limited role in Friday’s preseason opener, Riley has an opportunity to show his worth against a relatively strong Lions interior offensive line.

4. Deonte Banks

The 22-year-old first-round pick Deonte Banks is slated to make his NFL debut against Lions WRs Amon-Ra St. Brown, Marvin Jones Jr, Denzel Mims, and others. It will be interesting to see if Banks can stay tight on these matchups against seasoned NFL veterans.

In the first week of training camp, Giants fans were nervous as Banks had some tough practices. He was getting lost as wideouts consistently torched him off the line of scrimmage and sometimes in coverage, it felt as if Banks seemed to be moving in slow motion. Since then, the former Terp has turned it around with a few notable pass breakups, especially one that occurred in the first Lions’ joint practice against the pro bowler, St. Brown.

When talking to the media at joint practices about the upcoming game Banks said, “I’m really excited for it, really excited, just cause it’s my first one, being in those big stadiums. It’s my first one and it’s a warm-up to get ready for all the rest of the games that are coming.” Hopefully, in the Lions’ home stadium, Banks can show up on the field and make a big impact.

5. Tre Hawkins III

To finish this list, we have a fan favorite and at this moment, the 2023 winner of Giants training camp. Tre Hawkins III, selected in the sixth round of this year’s draft has been a surprising standout player in training camp. The former Old Dominion cornerback has displayed some truly amazing athleticism. He has been able to stay tight on Giants and Lions wide receivers in practices and seems to have a knack for reading routes. Take this 1-on-1 battle between Hawkins and Bryce Ford-Wheaton as an example…

Recently, the Giants CB has rightfully earned first-team reps and has shown tons of confidence throughout camp. As fans, we will be looking forward to a ton of starting snaps for Hawkins during this Friday’s preseason clash against the Lions.

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