So what have we learned after one preseason game?
Truthfully not that much.
How can I say that, you ask? Easy. Although we learned that Damontre Moore (who won’t play this week) is something special, I think the first preseason game created even more questions.
For instance, from the outside looking in, the Giants don’t appear to be any closer to resolving their starting linebacker situation. Their kickoff and punt return game continue to be a work in progress,; the battle for the number two quarterback has escalated; and we still aren’t completely sure that the run defense has been finally fixed.
There is still time left to get this all straightened out – remember the game results still don’t count yet – but time is starting to run out.
The Giants and Indianapolis Colts meet for the 12th time in the preseason, with the Colts leading the
preseason series, 6-5. In the regular season, the Giants and Colts have met 14 times, with the Colts leading the series 8-6. The last time the Giants and Colts met was in 2010, when the Colts beat the Giants, 38-14, in Lucas Oil Stadium.
This week’s game will be televised nationally by FOX. Joe Buck will call the play-by-play, Troy Aikman will provide the color commentary and Pam Oliver will report from the sidelines.
The game will be broadcast by WCBS 101.1 FM in the Tri-State area – with Bob Papa calling the play-by-play, Carl Banks serving as analyst and Howard Cross reporting from the sidelines. Lance Medow, Jeff Feagles, Paul Dottino and John Schmeelk will host the Giants radio pregame and postgame shows with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:05 p.m.
WHAT TO WATCH
1. The backup quarterback battle. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has never been stingy with his words, so imagine how many eyebrows he caused to raise when he revealed that the battle at quarterback isn’t so much between David Carr and rookie Ryan Nassib, but rather between Carr, and Curtis Painter.
Indeed, this week in practice, Carr and Painter have literally split the reps down the middle in working with the twos, and where it was once thought that Painter was merely camp fodder, he seems to have emerged as a legitimate threat to unseat Car, who’s been the backup to Eli Manning in four of the last five years. So this week, Carr will get about 25 snaps to make his case while next week Painter will get his turn.
2. The Different Defenses. This past week, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell unleashed multiple new looks o defense featuring defensive ends standing up as pass rushers, 3-4 looks, and guys trying out new positions. While preseason is generally the time to experiment, the question of how much is too much does need to be asked, especially with training camp winding down and the preseason games with it. If communication was a big issue last year when things were so much simpler, how might things be with all of these new looks?
3. The Return Game. Last week on kickoff returns, Jerrel Jernigan only had one chance to work with as four of the Steelers’ kickoffs went for touchbacks. This week, Jernigan, who’s reportedly been nursing a hamstring, might not play so look for the Giants to try someone else back there in hopes of finally coming up with a player who can take over the duty full time for David Wilson.
4. The Red Zone Performance. The Giants went zero for two last week inside the 20, including that rather embarrassing first series when, following the blocked punt by Damontre Moore that gave the offense the ball on the Steelers’ five, the Giants failed to move the rock even an inch, having to settle for a field goal. Potent offenses find a way to punch it into the end zone, especially when inside of the ten, and it was no surprise that head coach Tom Coughlin put a heavy emphasis on the red zone work this week in camp.
5. The Run Defense. Last week the starting run defense seemed to pick up right where it left off, as the Steelers’ LaRod Stephens-howling found success to the tune of seven carries for 40 yards. So it will be interesting to see what happens now that Justin Tuck is scheduled to return to action after missing last week with a sore back. Tuck’s return would move Cullen Jenkins back inside, where the tandem of Jenkins and Linval Joseph has done a good job in training camp practices creating congestion in the middle running lanes.
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH
1. Justin Pugh: After missing the preseason opener due to a concussion, Pugh is slated to make his NFL debut this week. He’ll presumably get a lot of snaps at both tackle spots with the two’s, but don’t be surprised if you see him get a series or two with the starters at right tackle.
2. David Wilson: Wilson has been lining up in some formations split wide as a receiver, an interesting little wrinkle that has seen Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz double up in the slot and Rueben Randle serving as the other outside receiver. The idea has been to get Wilson isolated against a linebacker to create a mismatch, so it will be interesting to see if the Giants whip out this play this week. It will also be interesting to see if Wilson continues to progress as a pass blocker. He’s made strides in that area and if he can master it, that would be a huge plus for the Giants offense.
3. Marvin Austin: Say whatever you want about Austin, but he sees the handwriting on the wall and knows that he has to put up or get out this year. Fewell said that Austin didn’t look too bad last week. Can he build on that performance?
4. Ryan Mundy: He’ll get the start in place of Antrel Rolle, who’ll miss the game due to a sprained ankle. Mundy has looked good in practice so far, but he’s facing a tall order in having to replace the man that defensive coordinator Perry Fewell called the “glue” of the defense.
5. Dan Connor: Connor showed just enough in last week’s preseason opener to earn snaps with the starters I practice, where he rotated with incumbent Mark Herzlich. With a solid showing this week, Connor, who if the flow of Friday’s cards practice is to believed, will get the start on Sunday night, could conceivably lock up the starting middle linebacker job, though don’t discount Herzlich, who despite his quiet game last week, has historically responded well to the wakeup calls he’s gotten when it comes to his job.
The following players are not expected to play against the Colts: S Cooper Taylor (hamstring), DT Markus Kuhn (knee/PUP), OL Chris DeGeare (ankle), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (back/PUP), S Antrel Rolle (ankle), TE Larry Donnell (knee), WR Brandon Collins (hamstring), RB Da’Rel Scott (shoulder), WR Jerrel Jernigan (hamstring), CB Corey Webster (groin), DE Damontre Moore (shoulder), and FB Henry Hynoski (knee/PUP). This list is subject to change closer to kickoff.
OL James Brewer (concussion) and CB Corey Webster (soreness) both returned to practice on Wednesday on a limited basis. Brewer will likely get some snaps at right tackle with the second stringers, but it’s not known if Webster, whom Coughlin has said is “day to day” will get any snaps on Sunday.
Also cornerback Terrell Thomas will not play on Sunday, despite practicing all week. Thomas will however, likely play the following week, against the Jets.
Coughlin has said that the starters will take 20 snaps, the second stringers will take 25 snaps, and the rest of the backups will finish up the game.
The Giants will host the Jets in the annual MetLife Bowl on Saturday, August 24 at MetLife Stadium, with a kickoff time of 7:00 p.m. It will be televised locally on NBC 4 in New York.