The cuts include four veterans, linebacker Chris Pearce, safety Rashaan Gaulden, running back Jon Hilliman and cornerback Shakial Taylor. The latter was claimed off of waivers by the Giants just five days ago.
Hilliman, a Rutgers-alumn, was notably forced into game action last season following injuries to fellow Giants running backs Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman. However, he struggled mightily in a lead-back role. Hilliman appeared in three games in 2019, with one start. He would go on to average just 3.0 yards per carry while coughing up the football twice over that span before ultimately being waived in mid-October. Big Blue later re-signed Hilliman to a reserve/future contract in late-December.
The four other players included in the eight-man roster trim, Quarterback Case Cookus of Nothern Arizona, fullback George Aston of Pittsburgh, and linebackers Oluwole Betiku, Jr. of Illinois and Dana Levine of Temple are all rookies.
Cookus was arguably the most intriguing talent of the bunch. The quarterback showed impressive arm talent during his days at NAU where he torched FCS defenses with regularity. With that said, New York drastically overhauled their quarterback room this offseason behind starter Daniel Jones, likely limiting any realistic chance Cookus ever had of making the team.
Veteran Colt McCoy and ex-Cowboy signal-caller Cooper Rush join Alex Tanney in what will likely be a three-way battle for the two reserve spots behind Jones.
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Leonard Williams Lands on the NFI List
Leonard Williams, New York’s “franchise player”, has been designated with a non-football injury. According to North Jersey Media Group’s Art Stapleton, Williams’ placement on the NFI list has to with a hamstring injury that popped up during his initial entry physical upon arriving in New York for the start of camp. The extent of Williams’ injury is unknown at this time. The defender can be activated from the NFI list at any point during camp.
Williams, who is set to embark on what can ultimately be described as a one-year, $16.1M prove-it season with Big Blue in 2020, was notably acquired at last season’s trade deadline from the Giants’ intra-city rivals, the New York Jets.
A former 6th-overall pick from the 2015 NFL Draft, Williams struggled to add much pop to the Giants’ pass-rush upon his arrival, collecting a meager 0.5 sack over his seven-game run with Big Blue in 2019.
With that said, Williams’ importance to New York’s defense goes well beyond just his sack numbers. For instance, the 26-year-old Williams led all interior defensive lineman in QB hits with 19 last season, five more than the next closest player. His pressure rate of 11.3% was also quite impressive, ranking within the top-15 of players at his position.