The New England Patriots will open the 2022 preseason against a New York Giants team that has more familiarity on the staff than on the roster.
Head coach Brian Daboll held the titles of defensive assistant, wide receivers coach and tight ends coach across a pair of stints with New England that spanned five Super Bowl rings. Former quarterback and current offensive coordinator Mike Kafka once signed a futures contract with the club. As for assistant defensive line coach Bryan Cox, the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker was in the fold for ex-Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick’s Patriots back in 2001.
And then there’s Joe Judge, who returned to Foxborough in February after posting a 10-23 record in East Rutherford.
But just two past Patriots stand on the 90-man Giants roster, while one past Giant stands on the 90-man Patriots roster.
Here’s a brief look at those player connections leading up to Thursday’s 7 p.m. ET kickoff at Gillette Stadium.
Jamil Douglas, guard — New England signed Douglas to the practice squad in October 2016 after the former fourth-round draft pick out of Arizona State had been released by the Miami Dolphins. He would remain through Super Bowl LI and through a futures contract before being part of the NFL’s 53-man roster deadline the next September. By then, Douglas had seen 141 offensive downs in the preseason for the Patriots. Tours with six organizations have followed for Douglas. A veteran of 50 games and 11 starts, the 30-year-old interior offensive lineman signed with the Giants in March. He spent last campaign between the Buffalo Bills and Washington Commanders.
Eric Smith, offensive tackle — Smith joined the Patriots’ practice squad at its formation in September 2018 after going undrafted to the Miami Dolphins the year prior. He continued as part of the scout team for three months before agreeing to terms with the New York Jets’ 53-man roster to conclude the campaign. Smith has since appeared in four career games beyond the preseason. The 26-year-old tackle out of Virginia made his debut as a member of the Giants midway through 2019, and he returned last weekend after being waived by the Denver Broncos.
Jabrill Peppers, safety — In March 2019, the Giants acquired the former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Paul Hornung Award winner and unanimous All-American from the Cleveland Browns as part of the trade for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Peppers went on to serve as a captain during his three-year stay with New York. The Michigan product started 30 of his 32 appearances. He played 1,845 snaps on defense and 140 snaps on special teams. Recorded in the process were 196 tackles and 3.5 sacks to go with four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, two interceptions and a 32-yard touchdown return. A torn ACL last October ended Peppers’ final Giants run on injured reserve. The 26-year-old safety signed a one-year pact with the Patriots, reuniting him with his previous head coach, in April. Peppers was cleared from the physically unable to perform list in the initial days of training camp.