Training camp hasn’t been kind to the New York Giants so far. They’ve lost three of their four main receivers even before the first preseason game – Corey Coleman to a torn ACL, Sterling Shepard to a broken thumb, and, today, newly-signed Golden Tate III to a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
With Tate out for four games and Shepard currently out, Bennie Fowler steps in as the default No. 1 receiver. Fowler’s entering his sixth season in the league and his second with the Giants, so, at the very least, he’s familiar with the offense. He caught 16 balls on 27 targets for 199 yards with a touchdown last season.
Russell Shepard and Cody Latimer are two other returning wideouts that will be expected to step their game up in the meantime as well. The veteran Shepard posted similar numbers to Fowler as a wideout in the rotation, catching just 10 balls on 19 targets for 188 yards with a pair of touchdowns last year. Latimer caught 11 balls on 16 targets for 190 yards with a touchdown.
Past those three are where things get tricky. The fourth wideout could be literally anyone, from rookies Reggie White Jr. and Darius Slayton to seventh-year man Brittan Golden and second-year man Alonzo Russell, who played just one game in 2018 and has yet to catch an NFL pass.
The Giants have invited veteran Kelvin Benjamin for a workout and could also bring in available free agents like Michael Crabtree, Pierre Garcon, and even Dez Bryant if he’s healthy enough, along with Terrance Williams and Mike Wallace. The problem is of these six wideouts available, four are over 30, and three are coming off an injury.
The Giants, however, do have some reinforcements in the passing game outside of the receiver position, and they’ll turn to those with the current state of the group.
Second-year stud Saquon Barkley is quite effective out of the backfield in the passing game and they could develop Wayne Gallman’s receiving game a bit. The Giants’ offense will utilize pass-catching tight end Evan Engram heavily, and Rhett Elison may even get a few targets.
Here’s a look at the current, projected Giants receiving depth chart as camp gets underway, entering Week 1 of the preseason.
Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, Elijhaa Penny
WR1: Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard, Brittan Golden
WR2: Cody Latimer, Reggie White Jr., Darius Slayton
Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, Scott Simonson
Not an inspiring group by any means. New York will need a few unexpected contributors if they’re to do anything on that side of the ball this year.