OBJ and Brandon Marshall injuries, offensive struggles leave cause for concern

An injury to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was about the worst thing the New York Giants could have imagined Monday night in their 10-6 preseason loss to the Cleveland Browns. It happened.

Fortunately, X-rays on Beckham’s ankle were negative and the Giants calling it a sprain. Beckham will have further tests when the team returns home. Combine that with wide receiver Brandon Marshall leaving the game and needing an X-ray on his shoulder and it wasn’t a good evening for the Giants.

They are an offense built around big-play weapons. They can’t afford to lose any of those weapons — especially Beckham — considering their ground game again looks non-existent. Starting running back Paul Perkins managed 10 yards on six carries against the Browns as the first-team offense failed to impress for a second straight game.

It looked a lot like last season’s Giants. Their starting defense played well, and their offense stumbled and didn’t score points. It’s the second straight week the first-team offense hasn’t impressed.

As if that wasn’t enough, then Beckham and Marshall were injured. It was close to the Giants’ worst nightmare.

QB depth chart:Eli Manning started after sitting out the preseason opener and was 10-of-14 passing for 80 yards. There weren’t many shots downfield. It was mostly wide receiver screens and quick-hitters. Geno Smith again showed promise, much like last week, until making a costly mistake. He was 11-of-17 passing for 79 yards, but his interception near the end zone and sack in the two-minute drill late in the first half ruined an otherwise fine performance. It’s these kinds of mistakes that hurt Smith’s chances of making the team.

Josh Johnson also didn’t impress in the fourth quarter, although he was hurt by a fumble that appeared to be rookie running back Wayne Gallman‘s fault. Johnson finished 2-of-4 for 6 yards and was unable to lead a winning drive in the final minutes.

When it was starters vs. starters, the Giants looked …: Strong defensively and bad offensively. The Giants’ starting offense produced one first down in three drives in the first quarter. The offensive line remains troublesome. The first-string defense produced a turnover and didn’t allow any points. Defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul are going to be a force.

One reason to be concerned: The run game. It was bad last season (29th in NFL) and hasn’t shown any signs of improvement. The offensive line struggled to get any push, the tight ends had their problems and running backs had no chance. Perkins had one rush for 16 yards. His other five went for minus-6 yards. Way too many negative plays.

That guy could start: The Giants don’t really have many competitions for starting spots, but second-year middle linebacker B.J. Goodson is trying to prove he belongs. He did on Monday night. Goodson had seven tackles, a sack for the second week in a row, a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit. It was a promising effort.

Rookie watch: The lone bright spot on offense was rookie tight end Evan Engram. He caught three passes for 37 yards and flashed athleticism that made him a first-round pick. Engram produced the Giants’ only first down of the opening quarter. He has the speed and run-after-catch ability the Giants have been missing from the tight end position.

The kicker competition:Aldrick Rosas and Mike Nugent each hit their only field-goal attempt. Rosas’ was from 47 yards; Nugent’s from 36. Again, advantage Rosas. He appears to remain in the lead.

The injury rundown: Beckham left with an ankle injury. Marshall had his shoulder X-rayed. Cornerback Michael Hunter left with a concussion. Wide receiver Tavarres King limped off with an ankle injury.

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