Preseason Finale: New York Giants at New England Patriots

We’ve made it to the end of the preseason, which since 2005 has seen the New York Giants square off against the New England Patriots to close out the summer slate.

If you’re looking for star power, then you might be better off watching any of the network re-runs instead, as both the Giants and Patriots are not expected to play most of their star players in this game.

But if you want a reason to tune in, you could make the argument that this game will be all about the stars of the future on each team.

“You want to get players work versus competitive players,” he said Tuesday. “You want to get your one’s work versus other opponents’ ones. Get them good, quality work at high speeds and physicality.”

Putting some select starters (looking at you, Giants offensive line) into the game will serve as a final tune-up before things get real.

But more importantly, with roster cut decisions looming this weekend, it’s a final chance, as McAdoo said, “to give every player who’s on the bubble an opportunity to show what they can do.”

Injury Report

The following players are dealing with injuries. We will update you pregame regarding any players who do not participate due to injury.

  • LB Keenan Robinson (concussion)
  • LB Mark Herzlich (stinger)
  • WR Tavarres King (ankle)
  • WR Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle)
  • WR Brandon Marshall (shoulder)
  • Michael Hunter (concussion)
  • DT Jay Bromley (knee)
  • CB Eli Apple (ankle)
  • RB Shaun Draughn (neck)
  • S Duke Ihenacho (knee)

What to Watch on Offense 

It’s unclear how many snaps the starting offensive linemen are going to receive, but here’s hoping, given how up and down the unit has been, particularly along the interior, that they get at least two series and that both are extended.

Otherwise, there are a few orders of business that McAdoo is no doubt looking to wrap up. These include:

Backup quarterback: If the rotation works follows the patterns, Geno Smith should be the first quarterback to get action, followed by Josh Johnson and, if time permits, rookie Davis Webb. The Giants are trying to decide who their No. 2 quarterback will be–currently, Smith is thought to have the advantage entering this final preseason game.

Running Back: Paul Perkins is the starter, but rookie Wayne Gallman (3.5 yards per carry) and Orleans Darkwa (3.6 yards per carry) have fared much better than Perkins (2.7 yards per carry). If you take into consideration that Darkwa and Gallman have racked up their yardage behind the second and third-string offensive lines, that’s even more impressive.

Tight end vs. fullback: The Giants need to decide whether they’ll be keeping a pure fullback (Shane Smith) to help the running game or if the offense will benefit more from a fourth tight end (Matt LaCosse).

Backup offensive line depth: The likelihood of both rookie offensive tackles–Adam Bisnowaty and Chad Wheeler–making the 53-man roster are low.  Will the Giants stick with Wheeler, who has improved and who is currently the immediate backup to Ereck Flowers at left tackle, or will they hang on to Bisnowaty, their sixth-round draft pick whom they traded up to get, but who has struggled with his technique this summer?

What to Watch on Defense 

The biggest concern on defense remains the depth at cornerback. Eli Apple and Michael Hunter probably won’t play Thursday, which would give opportunities to some of the bubble guys like Donte Deayon and DaShaun Amos. Can either make a move to secure the final roster spot projected at this spot?

Another guy who isn’t a lock is safety/linebacker Eric Pinkins. Pinkins has been a force on special teams, but is he better than, say, Nat Berhe as the fourth safety or Calvin Munson as the fifth projected linebacker?

Speaking of linebackers, we haven’t heard much this summer from J.T. Thomas, mainly because he opened camp on the PUP list and then took a couple of weeks to get going once removed. He played some snaps in last week’s game, and he’s also accepted a pay cut to stay with the team, which would suggest that there might be a place for him.

That place is likely as a backup middle linebacker to starter B.J. Goodson. With Mark Herzlich (stinger) likely to hit season-ending IR, and with Keenan Robinson a candidate for short-term IR, the Giants cannot leave themselves with no backup at this critical position.

Finally, this will be a good test for rookie Dalvin Tomlinson, who could lock up the starting defensive tackle job this week with a strong performance. Tomlinson’s stock has risen each week, and with the injury to Jay Bromley, the rookie has a chance to swoop in and make the job his.

What to Watch on Special Teams

The Giants will have to eventually decide on who their kicker will be this year. Thus far the battle between Mike Nugent and Aldrick Rosas has been as close as any position battle on this team in recent memory.

The interesting thing to watch will be if the two remain even after tonight. Will the Giants stick with Rosas, who would be their first young kicker since Matt Bryant? Or would they follow their tradition of past years and go with the experienced kicker who has “been there, done that” in big games?

Stay tuned.