NFL

Giants’ CB situation opposite James Bradberry remains fluid

The New York Giants began the 2020 season with a glut at the cornerback position. Who knew they’d be where they are right now, still struggling to find the right combination at right cornerback.

James Bradberry, the prized free-agent signing this past March, has played at a Pro-Bowl level, mainly at left cornerback, for all 674 of the Giants’ defensive snaps this season.

His counterparts have been all over the map, however. The Giants are still seeking the right player/players to handle the role.

They began the offseason with a competition between former first-round pick DeAndre Baker and Sam Beal, a third-rounder who had yet to see any significant action.

Baker, as you know, had his career derailed by criminal charges (of which he is no longer on the hook for) causing the Giants to part ways with him. Beal, citing COVID-19 concerns, never hit the field. The Giants were left to make do with Corey Ballentine, rookie Darnay Holmes, and others.

The Giants added Isaac Yiadom and Ryan Lewis along the way and added them to the mix. Ballentine played his way out of the lineup and eventually off the roster. Lewis was getting an opportunity until he suffered a hamstring injury two weeks ago. Last week against the Eagles, Yiadom played 100 percent of the snaps. Holmes played in packages, which was on 66 percent of the snaps.

Head coach Joe Judge may mix and match at that cornerback spot the rest of the season. He’s liking what he’s seeing from the youngsters at corner.

“I expect all the guys to play, I really do,” Judge said of the situation. “There may be certain matchups that we may favor a certain guy for a skillset. There may be certain positions on the field, whether it’s red area versus backed up or in the field, that may be more of an early-down guy or a third-down guy. Every game brings a little bit of a different element on how you’re trying to match up the opponent. To me, I have no issue at all playing guys at any position and rotating them on through. As long as we’re getting production, we’re keeping guys fresh, we expect everyone at the game to contribute. In terms of the way I view the game, no, I have no issue with that at all.”

Linebacker Blake Martinez, the defensive captain, spoke about the revolving door at the open cornerback spot.

“I think that’s just a testament to the type of group we have,” he said. “Every single week we know that no matter who’s going in, just from the leadership from the top down on our defense and our team in general. Whoever is going to be in is going to be ready to go. For that given week, they’re going to know where to be. It’s just on us to make sure everyone is comfortable out there, everyone is calm. Especially me as a middle linebacker of the defense, just making sure if there are any questions, any adjustments, we get it expressed throughout the defense, all 11. No matter if it’s the second cornerback spot, the D-line, whatever it is. It allows people to play that much quicker.”

Judge won’t pin himself down on who he favors for the job, except that he has confidence in his players, specifically Yiadom.

“I’ve seen a lot of improvement from Ike. Yeah, that’s a guy who’s really worked tirelessly at practice. He’s really competed hard for us and shown a lot of things at practice. Then he got a shot in the game and he went out there and he’s been making plays for us. Yeah, he’s done a lot of really good things right now that have helped us. He’ll keep playing for us as well, as will (Madre) Harp(er), we get Ryan Lewis back and a number of other guys.”

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