The New York Giants and Cleveland Browns met in the preseason opener for both teams Thursday night. It was more than just a matchup of the teams with the NFL’s worst records from a season ago. It was a chance to see the top two picks in April’s NFL Draft in action for the first time.
Barkley electrified fans at MetLife Stadium when he turned what appeared to be a nothing play into a dazzling 39-yard gain on the game’s first play from scrimmage. He finished with 43 yards on five carries. Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner, completed 11-of-20 passes for 212 yards and touchdowns in the Browns’ 20-10 victory. Mayfield also converted two fourth downs with his feet.
Barkley’s opening play from scrimmage run set up a 42-yard field goal from Aldrick Rosas. Jalen Simmons scored the Giants’ only touchdown on a 5-yard run three plays after Zak DeOssie recovered a fumble by C.J. Board at the Browns 16.
The Giants played all four of their quarterbacks. Eli Manning played two series, going for 4-of-7 for 26 yards. Davis Webb didn’t inspire confidence with his play, going of 9-of-22 for 70 yards. Kyle Lauletta (6-of-9 for 48) and Alex Tanney (3-of-7 for 49 yards) didn’t quite light it up either.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who missed the final 11 regular season games of ’17 with a broken ankle, dressed but did not play.
The Giants rebuilt their offensive line through the draft and free agency. They struggled to protect the quarterbacks but the Giants run game did produce 134 yards on 23 carries. James Bettcher’s 3-4 defense stopped the Browns on the ground (33 carries for 50 yards) but gave up too many big plays in the passing game (18 receptions for 333 yards and three touchdowns).
Perhaps the biggest star for the Giants in the preseason opener was punter Riley Dixon. Dixon punted 10 times, averaging 44.2 yards per punt, including a 62-yarder. He also had one touchback and three punts inside the 20.
All in all, the Giants’ preseason opener is what you’d expect from a team that hasn’t played against live competition in more than eight months. They have much work ahead of them to get ready for the regular season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 29 days.
– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL, the New York Giants, and the NBA. Please like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @CuRawls203.