Looks like the 53 man roster is finalized - some surprises and some strong messages were contained in the formation of the final 53. It's "final" for now, but there may be further changes.
OL: Giants ended up carrying 9 OL-men. Cordle is the only pure backup C on the team, so he was carried for that more than his skill as a great OL-man. As I posted on this blog several times, Petrus was a real weak link - he was missing assignments and he was getting beaten physically time and again in the preseason. The coaches may have cared more about the mental mistakes, but for me, the fact that he was getting out-quicked and beaten physically, means that his pass blocking didn't improve and he should not be in the team's picture for the long term. Mental mistakes can be worked on, but god given talent can not be. He was cut, but was given a reprieve and taken back on the team when the OL-man they picked up who was waived by the Eagles did not pass his physical. Petrus is now, somewhat tenuously, back on the team. He and the media are saying this was a wake up call for him, implying that now he will buckle down and develop into the OL-man Giants expected to have. I don't buy it - he wasn't trying hard until now? He was feeling overconfident and complacent with all that he has accomplished in the league? I don't think so. He's just not quick enough. Some players take a while to mature, but they show some flashes of skill even when they're struggling and I didn't see that from him. If somehow another OL-man becomes available because he gets cut by another team or available in a trade, neither Petrus' nor Cordle's roster spot is secure.
DL: Interesting what Giants did in the DL. I thought the numbers game was 4 DEs and 4 DTs, but Giants liked what they saw so much from Ojomo and Tracy that they essentially took the same route that they did on the draft - keep the best players on the roster, even if it means carrying an extra DL-man and juggling the other roster spots. Giants are keeping Kuhn, Joseph, Austin and Bernard as DTs and Osi, Tuck, JPP, Ojomo and Tracy as 5 DEs. It probably means that Austin is expected to be back soon, but if they need some additional bodies on the DT rotation in the meanwhile, especially early in the year when the weather is still hot and the big guys need to be rotated, Tuck and Ojomo can take some snaps there with the knowledge that there are extra bodies at DE. This may have cost Greg Jones his roster spot. Giants thought that their front 7 would be better with the extra DE rather than an extra LB. I said all along that Kiwanuka's future is back at DE, but with 5 there, the Giants may think differently. At least for this year.
The intrigue is not over on the DL because Canty is expected to return somewhere around the middle of the season, assuming he can graduate from the PUP list. We'll see what the injury and roster situation is then. Also curious to see what Giants will do when Sash becomes eligible to return from his suspension after game 4. I really like Will Hill; he's more athletic than Sash. Giants usually carry 4 at the S position, so DB Stevie Brown might be vulnerable when Sash comes back. Again, it will depend on performance and injury situation at that time.
WR: I thought Hixon was on the bubble to make the roster, particularly when Barden and even Jernigan started to show something in the preseason games. Not only did Hixon make the roster, but Gilbride announced that he is starting the year as the number 3 WR. Since Giants (and most other teams) run a lot of 3 WR sets, Hixon will get a lot of playing time. Gilbride called him dependable, and I hope that doesn't mean that he has lost his explosiveness following two major knee injuries. I also hope the Giants develop the supporting cast of substitute WRs and give them some snaps during the games. Injuries are a fact of life in NFL and getting substitutes ready is important. More than that, using a WR rotation, just like Giants do at DE and DT is a way to keep them fresh. In 2008, Plaxico and Toomer were on the field every snap, with substitutes getting little playing time. When Plaxico went down towards the end of the season, Giants did not have an able bodied substitute with any experience. Coincidentally, Hixon stepped in and tried to take over, but he was a different kind of receiver than Burress and didn't have the reps during the season to get on the same page with Eli. He also had a huge drop in the playoff game against the Eagles that year. I hope the Giants learned from that episode - substitutes don't only have to be designated, they have to be tested and prepared for the game.
IR: Sad for Shaun Rogers and especially for Terrell Thomas that they were put on IR. From the beginning it seemed like the Giants medical staff did not agree with Thomas' surgeon and external doctor's opinions about Thomas knee injury and his ability to return this year. It's possible that he could rehab it and be brought back next year for another try, but certainly it won't be with the same contract he signed coming into this year.