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Giants takeaways from Friday’s 21-19 win over the Panthers, including an impressive debut from Darren Waller

The Carolina Panthers vs. the New York Giants in an NFL preseason game at MetLife Stadium. New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) in the first quarter. / Michael Karas-USA TODAY NETWORK

Most of the Giants’ starters were in action for Friday night’s game against Carolina with Brian Daboll having said he was eager to get a look at everyone, although he wasn’t sure how long they would play for.

The offense answered that question very quickly as Daniel Jones marched them downfield on the first drive, completing the job with a short touchdown toss to Daniel Bellinger. Daboll decided he’d seen enough and most of the offensive starters left the game at that point.

On defense, the starters played into the second quarter as they gave up a long drive that took 10 minutes off the clock but stalled in the red zone, thanks in part to a Kayvon Thibodeaux sack on a blown protection.

The Giants would extend their lead to 14-3 on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor to Jalin Hyatt. The rookie ran an excellent route to get open over the top, just one play after a bad dropped pass. Another rookie, Eric Gray, increased the lead to 21-3 on a nine-yard touchdown run up the middle just before halftime.

The Panthers scored 16 unanswered points in the second half to make the scoreline respectable and got the ball back with a chance to win with two minutes left. However, they turned the ball over deep in their own territory to end the threat.

Despite their solid first half display, the Giants’ success should perhaps be tempered by the fact that Carolina were blown out 27-0 by the Jets last week, so it may be that they’ll get a more realistic challenge from the Jets in next week’s preseason finale. It will be interesting to see how many starters, if any, play in that one.

Here are the takeaways…

– The Giants clearly intended to work on their passing game this week, as Jones dropped back on all 10 of the plays on the opening scoring drive, completing 8-of-9 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown.

– The gameplan showcased what a big part of the offense Darren Waller will be this year by throwing to him on the first three plays. After two catches, the third of those passes was knocked out of his hands by a big hit, but he had a fourth catch a few plays later. Newcomer Parris Campbell also had two catches on the drive.

– With Saquon Barkley out, Matt Breida got the start at running back but didn’t get a chance to contribute as the Giants threw the ball every time.

– In his first action in a Giants jersey, newcomer Bobby Okereke showed how productive he can be as he was constantly around the football with seven tackles on the first two drives, including a few run stuffs. The bigger question is who will start alongside him. Micah McFadden got the start, but only had a minimal impact.

– There was some obvious rust from the defense, who were called for four first-quarter penalties including two on Dexter Lawrence, for roughing the passer and a neutral zone infraction. Lawrence was typically unblockable upfront though, creating plenty of pressure and penetration.

– It was good to see Sterling Shepard back in action, and he had one first-down catch late in the first half. The player who keeps showing up in the wide receiver battle though is Isaiah Hodgins, who caught a 20-yard pass from Jones on the opening drive and then slipped out of a tackle to gain 25 more on a pass from Taylor. He keeps producing in spite of the other options the Giants have brought in or are getting back from injury, which is keeping the battle for spots interesting.

– Third-team cornerback Zyon Gilbert had a real chance to make a case for himself in the closing minutes, but he dropped two interception chances.


What’s next

The Giants remain at home to take on the Jets on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 6:00 p.m.

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