Duggan reported how undrafted free agent Bryce Ford-Wheaton tearing his ACL in the preseason finale against the New York Jets increases the likelihood of 34-year -old Beasley, despite the veteran dealing with a “quad” problem of his own.
Beasley being “close to 100%” is also good news for the former Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills’ receiver’s chances of securing a roster spot. He already has the inside track thanks to three seasons playing for Giants’ head coach Brian Daboll in Buffalo.
That experience with the Daboll playbook showed up earlier in preseason when Beasley was already making it difficult for the Giants to cut him. Keeping the 11-year pro makes sense, even though there’s no shortage of slot-style wideouts vying for targets.
Beasley can still be a factor in the rotation, but Ford-Wheaton’s potential to stretch the field could be missed.
Familiar Veteran Has Value for Giants
Beasley’s value is well-known to Daboll, who oversaw the receiver recording back-to-back 82-catch seasons in 2020 and ’21. A lot of those receptions were made between the numbers, with Beasley playing 526 slot snaps in 2020 and 536 snaps inside a year later, per Player Profiler.
Beasley can still be a short-range chain-mover for Daboll’s offense with the Giants. He’ll need to show he hasn’t lost a step because the competition for slot targets is likely to be intense.
The Giants also have Parris Campbell, Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson as intermediate targets. Campbell is sure to get ample snaps after arriving from the Indianapolis Colts in free agency, but Robinson is battling back from a torn ACL suffered against the Detroit Lions in Week 11 last season.
It’s the same injury Shepard suffered against the Cowboys eight weeks earlier, but the veteran is already back and looking “explosive.” Shepard will be a factor now he’s healthy, but the Giants still have high expectations for Robinson after selecting him in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft.
Fortunately, Robinson is also back on the practice field and working to get up to speed, per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.
The Giants’ short-range passing game is well stocked, but Ford-Wheaton might have made more of an impact in two other areas.
Hyped Playmaker Denied Chance to Shine
There had already been plenty of hype building around Ford-Wheaton. He’d been generating the obvious comparison with Victor Cruz, a rookie free agent turned Super Bowl winner for the Giants.
While Ford-Wheaton hadn’t been making plays in the passing game the way Cruz did, he was proving a useful “special teams contributor” before injury struck, according to Raanan.
Ford-Wheaton’s potential to make an impact in football’s third phase was obvious during this punt coverage against the Jets, highlighted by Empire Sports Media’s Alex Wilson.
Aside from special teams, Ford-Wheaton offered the ability to be a deep threat after averaging 13.1 yards per reception during four years at West Virginia. Another field-stretcher would have been welcome in a pedestrian passing game that mustered a league-low 28 completions of 20-plus yards.
The Giants’ air attack should still become more expansive, even without Ford-Wheaton. It will help to have third-round draft pick Jalin Hyatt and returning veteran Darius Slayton to take the top off of defenses, while Beasley and Co. work underneath.