When you welcome the NFL’s eighth-best passing offense into town, chances are you’d prefer to be at full strength in your secondary. Unfortunately for the New York Giants, they aren’t likely to have that privilege heading into Monday night’s bout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Cornerback Ryan Lewis was added to the team’s injury report on Sunday and is currently listed as doubtful to play in Week 8 due to a hamstring injury. In the words of NJ.com’s Art Stapleton, “not a great development.” No, it certainly is not.
An early-September practice squad addition, Lewis quickly found himself elevated to the Giants’ active roster in Week 2. Three weeks later, he was officially inserted into Big Blue’s starting lineup, where he’s remained up to this point.
While Lewis has been far from lockdown opposite stud James Bradberry, the ex-Miami Dolphin has added some stability to the Giants’ CB2 gig, something that had been lacking for much of the first month of the season.
Madre Harper Time?
Prior to Lewis, Corey Ballentine and Issac Yiadom were both presented with the opportunity to stake claim to the starting cornerback job this season. Unfortunately for them, their play was so underwhelming that they not only ceded the job to Lewis, but have since become non-existent in New York’s secondary rotation. Yiadom hasn’t logged a defensive snap since Week 4, while Ballentine notched 17 defensive snaps one week ago, his first since Week 2.
Speaking of last week, fellow cornerback Madre Harper played a season-high 24 defensive snaps against the Philadelphia Eagles and looks to be the next man up to bat in Lewis’ perceived absence.
The Giants stole Harper off of the Las Vegas Raiders’ practice squad in late-September, doling out a sizeable signing bonus to pry him away from an organization that “had plans” for him moving forward.
The 6-foot-1-inch, 196-pound corner made waves during Raiders training camp this summer, but still remains relatively unknown. With that said, his high-end traits make him an extremely tantalizing prospect, as we noted back when Big Blue initially struck a deal with Harper to bring him to New York.
While Harper carried little notoriety as a draft prospect this past offseason, his testing numbers match up against the elite talents at the position. Harper posted a 4.41 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical, 4.1-second short shuttle and 6.7-second three-cone at NIU’s Pro Day. Had Harper been invited to this year’s NFL combine, those marks would have all finished within the top-five at his position.
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A Daunting Matchup
Harper, and all Giants cornerbacks at that, will have their hands full on Monday night trying to contain a slew of receiving options at the disposal of Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. Four Tampa Bay wide receivers have found the endzone at least twice this season. To put that number in perspective, Darius Slayton currently leads all Giants pass-catchers in receiving touchdowns with three, while no other Giants player has exceeded one.
New York does catch a slight break as reigning Pro Bowler, Chris Godwin, has been ruled out for Monday’s bout due to a fractured left index finger.