The Giants are expecting big things from their top two draft picks, tight end Evan Engram and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. Neither is at present listed as a starter, but that can change and both will play, early and often, in their rookie seasons.
Engram caught one pass for 11 yards but the focus after his 23 snaps in the 20-12 preseason loss to the Steelers was his blocking, a supposed weakness in college at Ole Miss, where he was not asked to do much in-line blocking.
“I went head-up with a couple of big dudes out there,’’ Engram said. “I think I held my own pretty good.’’
There were a couple of plays, he said, where he could have come up with a stronger block after the pocket broke down.
“I could’ve maybe had some better steps on the block,’’ Engram said. “There was one block that I could’ve got more inside on. But overall, I think that it was a good experience and definitely a good starting point for us to build on.’’
Tomlinson, a second-round pick from Alabama, was in for 27 snaps, playing half the game, and was credited with four tackles. He was noticeable as he penetrated the Pittsburgh backfield more than once.
“I think I did pretty well,’’ Tomlinson said. “There’s a lot of things I need to improve before the season gets here. Just recognizing different things, pre-snap reads, things like that. Small, detail things.
“I’m happy with the number of quality snaps I had but also I feel like I want to be able to do it more often.’’
The plan is for Engram to immediately receiving playing time, perhaps behind veteran Rhett Ellison, who is primarily a blocker. Tomlinson is in a summer battle with Jay Bromley for the starting job at right defensive tackle. Bromley has been impressive in training camp and in the preseason opener dropped Fitzgerald Toussaint for a one-yard loss on third-and-1.
Even if Tomlinson does not supplant Bromley, the Giants plan on using both in a rotation.
“I feel like it’s the long-run goal,’’ Tomlinson said. “As of right now just trying to improve and get better each and every day and hopefully I can get the starting job when the season starts. I feel like I’m improving and showing a lot more things to the coaches each and every day.’’