"How can a game be played for bragging rights when it’s still preseason, the final score still means squat, and the starters will still be enjoying the view at the start of a fourth quarter in front of an empty stadium.
The Snoopy Trophy aside, the only two things that really matter are (1) getting out of this game healthy, and (2) setting up the roster for the first round of cuts on Tuesday.
GIANTS ON OFFENSE
It would be nice to see Eli Manning and company get in the end zone, but the real focus of this game will be the re-vamped offensive line.
David Baas and David Diehl are on the sideline, Jim Cordle is at center, and Justin Pugh is at right tackle. Getting all these moving parts in synch won’t be easy.
All eyes will be on the wily, hanging-on vet and the high-expectation #number one pick. Pugh is the key to it all. If he can be serviceable blocking his edge of the field, then this unit has a chance to be good. If Pugh’s not ready then all heck could break loose.
We are concerned that Pugh’s size will not hold up well against the physical defensive ends who will be lining up across from him every week. Let’s remember that he’s playing the strong side, where all the big boys historically reside.
Pugh is the antithesis of the classic power right tackle – think Kareem McKenzie if you’re looking for a prototype. Pugh looks more like a pulling weak side guard right now.
Other than how Pugh looks in front of a mirror, more importantly, how will he play? It will be a fascinating two-plus quarters watching him compete.
The inside backups to watch are Matt Mosley and James Brewer. We’re still intrigued by Brewer’s measurables. He’s so big that he has the potential to engulf defenders, but so rarely does. He has to get more physical.
At wide out, we need to see Hakeem Nicks pick up his pace a bit. We’re not looking for regular season speed – Nicks is obviously pacing himself towards opening day – but it would be nice to see a bit more pep in his step.
With Victor Cruz out, Jerrel Jernigan, who returns from soreness, really needs to step up and shine. Louis Murphy’s leg woes will likely keep him on the sideline, making the depth at receiver not great.
At tight end, Adrien Robinson really looks the part, but his inexperience is causing problems. There will be growing pains with Robinson, but he brings so much pure talent to the field that it will be hard to keep him off. It will behoove the team to get him as many snaps as possible this preseason.
Larry Donnell is also oozing with talent. His quick return from a knee injury last week could go a long ways toward earning his roster spot, but he still has to finish his opportunities.
The running back situation is pretty much set. The team is three-deep and is likely not to keep a fourth. Ryan Torain isn’t good enough to keep, but he’ll be good couch insurance.
At quarterback, the other intriguing player to watch will be Curtis Painter. We have a gut feeling that David Carr’s roster spot is in jeopardy. If Painter can show enough, he could beat out Carr for that final spot.
GIANTS ON DEFENSE
The big positional battle is at defensive end. Four spots are sewn up, leaving Adrian Tracy, Justin Trattou and Adewale Ojomo fighting for the projected final spot. We are intrigued by Trattou’s instincts and feel for the game, while Tracy does many of the little things well.
Ojomo has the flash but is not as reliable. The Giants would do well to find a trading partner for one of these guys, as there’s an overload.
There’s also an excess at defensive tackle with vets Mike Patterson and Frank Okam, both of whom can play in this league, possibly being on the outside looking in. Marvin Austin is finally showing glimpses of his second-round pedigree, but is it too little, too late for him? This is another area where, if possible, finding a trading partner might be wise.
The linebacker situation remains murky. The team could really use some fresh blood as only Jacquian Williams is playing starting-caliber ball while everyone else in this unit seems to be treading water.
Dan Connor should start in the middle but he doesn’t excite. Spencer Paysinger would make an ideal backup, but we’re not sure if he’s starting material.
The safety position is very strong – Will Hill, who is headed for a four-game suspension, has flashed the most in preseason. Meanwhile at cornerback, other than Prince Amukamara, the corners are not making enough plays.
All eyes will be on Terrell Thomas, who is scheduled to see his first live game action in two years. Trumaine McBride has been the best of the backups while the team really needs Jayron Hosley to calm down his gambling ways and play a more honest style.
GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS
The team’s kickers have never looked better. Steve Weatherford is punting mid-season and Josh Brown sure looks like an upgrade on those deep kickoffs.
The returners look like they will be Michael Cox on kickoffs and Hosley on punts. It’s still disappointing that Jernigan has never shown what it takes to field punts, as he has that slipperiness about him, but if you can’t catch the ball, what’s the use?"