Giants at Jets Preview
by Bob Folger, Inside Football Senior Analyst
Game 2 of the pre-season begins the process of fine-tuning the play of the starters, where there is very little competition on the Giants. The defensive tackle position is the only one in flux, and that’s due to injuries. The Jets will likely game plan heavily and come out chippy, so the Giants will have to be ready. How will the replacement officials handle the post-whistle stuff? It could get ugly.
Let’s run down the units, and what to expect.
Quarterbacks: Eli Manning will likely go deep into the second quarter. David Carr will probably get the third quarter to show off his quick release and quick feet, and, hopefully, a better feel for progressions and the pocket. Ryan Perrilloux, who should see snaps in the fourth quarter, needs to show the coaches that he’s more than an athlete playing quarterback. He has to start making plays with his head.
Running Backs: Ahmad Bradshaw and DJ Ware will need to be sharp with their blitz pickup reads against the Jets’ schemes. Andre Brown needs to show the coaches more consistency. The uber-talented David Wilson will probably get snaps with the backups, as he continues to improve his grasp of the offense, while Da’Rel Scott, who missed the preseason opener, needs to get on the field, period. All the backups need to show a compete level with Ware for the third-down job.
Fullbacks: Henry Hynoski should play well into the second half, along with the rest of the starters. The undersized, yet gritty tough Joe Martinek needs to continue to play mistake-free ball and hit anything that moves. Martinek, who is likely destined for the practice squad at this point, could use a few late game snaps at running back, but that will only happen if there’s an injury.
Tight Ends: The show that Martellus Bennett put on last week was impressive. If Bennett can continue to earn Eli Manning‘s trust, there’s going to be a new sheriff in town. Bennett has the talent to rank with the best tight ends in the league. Bear Pascoe is the anti-Bennett talent-wise, but Pascoe is versatile and reliable and nearly as indispensable. Pascoe is also showing slow, but sure improvements in his overall game. Rookie Adrien Robinson is starting to flash in practice. His in-line blocking will be a major focus. The best of the long shots is Larry Donnell, who also needs to show that he can block a little.
Receivers: Victor Cruz looks to be in mid-season form and has a history against the Jets, who will probably do everything to take him out of the game. This will leave opportunities for Domenik Hixon and David Douglas (if he plays) to translate their training camp prowess to the pre-season. Fellow camp stars Ramses Barden and Jerrel Jernigan need to show they can perform on the field as well as they seem to do in practice. Barden particularly has to impose his physicality on his man while Jernigan needs to show a better fight level overall. Rookie Rueben Randle needs to pick up his intensity level a bit with the regular season drawing closer.
Offensive Line: The Giants’ starters need to show that they can open some holes against a very stout run defense. All eyes will be on Will Beatty, who should be back in the lineup after missing last week with a back problem. If he isn’t, then Sean Locklear at left tackle needs to continue to look the part. The interior trio is solid and David Diehl looks comfortable at right tackle.
All of the backups need to pick up their games. The Giants seem to be grooming Brandon Mosley for that all-important jack-of-all-trades role that every offensive line needs. He reminds us of Diehl as a guard/tackle swingman. James Brewer is a whiz in drills, but he has to translate that talent to the field, assuming his back allows him to get on the field. Matt McCants needs time. Selvish Capers looks the part at guard, but his awareness must improve. Mitch Petrus must continue to try and find ways to survive as a pass blocker.
Defensive Line: The defensive end position is locked and loaded. Adrian Tracy was impressive last week. Justin Trattou’s continued absence due to injury only improves Tracy’s chances of winning that fourth defensive end role. Craig Marshall has size, but is likely a long shot, while Matt Broha will likely beat Adewale Ojomo for a coveted practice squad role.
Defensive tackle is the problem. Linval Joseph is the lone non-question mark. Marvin Austin, who is dealing with a back problem, has to prove that he can stay on the field, and Rocky Bernard is nursing a knee injury. With Shaun Rogers and Martin Parker done for the year, Dwayne Hendricks and Markus Kuhn have to step up and be counted. Both played well last week, and it wouldn’t surprise us if Hendricks was given some snaps with the ones to see if he belongs. Kuhn, meanwhile, needs to flash on special teams. The Giants signed Carlton Powell on Tuesday to eat up some snaps.
Linebackers: We are probably in the minority with our belief that starter Chase Blackburn’s roster spot is guaranteed. Mark Herzlich is emerging while Keith Rivers has electric talent and needs to see the field. The Giants have numerous options for that two-down middle linebacker role, including Greg Jones and Spencer Paysinger, both of whom seem to be better special teamers than Blackburn at this point. Michael Boley and Jacquian Williams are likely out again this week. We really want to see aggressive rookie Jake Muasau for the first time, especially on special teams.
Defensive Backs: Prince Amukamara needs to get a lot of snaps so he can show that his mental grasp of the game is improving. He has the talent to be a starter, but he’s still has to earn it. Backups Michael Coe and Justin Tryon have the inside track on roster spots, but they have to show they can make plays on the ball. Jayron Hosley looks like he knows how to go after the ball, and is making a hard push for the nickel job. Nobody talks much about Antwaun Molden, but he’s certainly in the mix at corner.
At safety, the talk is all about Will Hill. We’re really impressed by Hill’s run game instincts, as he takes very good angles to the ball, is a good tackler, and has textbook size for the position. We need to see him make some plays in coverage, though. We think Chris Horton’s physicality gives him the edge over Stevie Brown as the other backup. Tyler Sash’s four-game suspension will give the team time to see if Horton can contribute in other ways. Jojo Nicolas looks like a potential practice squad candidate.
Special Teams: Lawrence Tynes’ kickoffs need to be more consistent, while Steve Weatherford needs to improve his directional kicking from last week. The return game is the thing that everyone wants to see. At kickoffs, look for Da’Rel Scott to get some chances to show off his speed. Jerrel Jernigan will likely be restricted to kickoffs after his punt muff last week.
Speaking of punt returns, the Giants appear to want Jayron Hosley to win the job. Sure-handed Rueben Randle and even Dan DePalma may get a chance or two, while the veteran Domenik Hixon patiently waits in the wings. We suspect that on opening day, Hixon will be back there if only to calm Tom Coughlin’s nerves about ball security.