The New York Giants released their first depth chart on Wednesday ahead of Monday night’s season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it’s safe to say there were a few glaring takeaways. Yet, none more shocking than the team’s returning leading sack artist missing from Big Blue’s first-team defense.
Markus Golden Listed as a Backup
Markus Golden started all 16 games for New York in 2019, finishing with 10 sacks on the season. Golden’s double-digit campaign ranks as the most sacks by any Giants player since Jason Pierre-Paul’s 12.5 way back in 2014.
Yet, despite Golden’s brilliance coming off the edge, the Giants have opted to peg rising sophomore Oshane Ximines and camp standout Lorenzo Carter as their two starting outside linebackers heading into Week 1.
Of course, this depth chart is marked as “unofficial” for a reason and is subject to change, as head coach Joe Judge has previously touched on.
“Everything in our program, I wouldn’t say anything is ever in concrete,” Judge said one week prior to the release of the depth chart. “We’re very clear to our players, it’s a production business. It’s week by week. It’s whoever’s playing the best at that time, whoever gives us the best chance for a game plan matchup against an opponent, that’s who we’re going to play.”
Golden, of course, endured a less than desirable offseason, this despite appearing to be one of the top pass-rushers on the open market. The 29-year-old was slapped with the seldomly used UFA Tender by the Giants, putting a deadline on his quest to land a big contract. He eventually rejoined New York in early August on a one-year deal worth approximately $5.1 million.
While the Giants may like what Ximines and Carter bring on an early-down basis, expect Golden to still see plenty of run on Monday night as the Giants will look to get after Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger early and often.
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Other Notable Takeaways From Giants’ Depth Chart
Golden wasn’t the only notable pass-rusher left off the team’s starting unit. Free-agent addition, Kyler Fackrell, joins Golden as a fellow second-string outside linebacker. The former Green Bay Packer registered one lone sack in 2019 but is just two years removed from a 10.5 sack campaign.
Nick Gates’ transition from versatile guard/tackle prospect to full-time center has come to its full fruition. The 2018 undrafted free-agent out of Nebraska beat out the likes of veteran Spencer Pulley to stake claim to the starting gig. Journeyman Cam Fleming has also been given the nod over rookie Matt Peart at right tackle.
At cornerback, second-year pro Corey Ballentine is listed as a starter opposite big-ticket free-agent James Bradberry. The newly-acquired duo of Isaac Yiadom and Logan Ryan are both penciled in as backups. The former is listed as a cornerback and the latter as a safety behind Julian Love.
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