I love this week’s game for a number of reasons…
First, as a Giants fan, I can’t help but have incredible respect for the Colts; and from what I’ve seen, there seems to be a mutual respect between fans of these two teams. As a football fan, I am excited about the evolution of Andrew Luck in the NFL, and the practically instant rebirth of the Colts after the Peyton Manning era (interestingly, I read somewhere this week that Ahmad Bradshaw said Luck is exactly like Eli – and when I watch him, I totally agree); and speaking of Ahmad, I hope we get the great opportunity to see him at The Meadowlands on Sunday (I don’t think he will play, but I’m looking forward to seeing our old friend, Lightning, on the Colts sideline). There’s just something so much different about a former Giant on the Colts sideline, as opposed to the Dallas sideline.
Second, I am just so excited to watch our next step toward zeroing in on 53. This is fun! The notes I took during last week’s game have been digested. I’ve listened carefully to the news from camp this week, and with that said, here’s what I’m thinking about heading into Preseason Game 2:
- First things first: I think I should mention up front that I am quite happy at what I think I am seeing with this current team as far as early team cohesion. If you read my blog, you know that I focus quite a lot on teamwork and unity being critical to success. Last week I noted that I had a lot of open questions about how the offseason drama would affect the team’s ability to come together as a unit. So far so good, and watching some of the interactions during the well-timed surprise Coughlin bowling outing this week, I can honestly say, I do think this team is on the right track.
- Running Backs: Before last week’s game I mentioned that I had questions around the potency of the current Giants running back corps. I still do, and I am going to be looking carefully at the ability to get going early in the run game from David Wilson and Andre Brown (who I suspect will make sure he holds onto the ball). I want to see the power to get to more yards per carry from these guys. Rookie Michael Cox had arguably the better running game last week, and has gotten some positive camp notes, so I’d like to see that continue. Can Da’Rel Scott – clearly on the roster bubble – do something (or several somethings) special to make himself stand out?
- Skipping to what I think is one of the most interesting competitions in camp this year: Safety. The Giants will likely keep only 4 safeties on the final roster. Rolle and Brown start. Tyler Sash was likely to be odd man out before last week, and now he could pull himself up to lock in a spot – IF he can keep up the level of play at Safety and on Special Teams that he showed last week. Regardless of the off the field issues, Will Hill continues to be a fan favorite – I too really have had very high hopes for his potential. But as a fan, I want to see the best physical and mental team on that 53-man roster. Hill still has a 4-game suspension to serve (for the second year in a row). So as far as I am concerned, he needs to bring it big time at Safety and on Special Teams in order to find a way onto that roster after those 4 weeks are through. Then there is high-potential rookie Cooper Taylor. Everyone with a heart wants this kid to make it as he comes back from the rare heart condition, Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had a great camp with a hamstring issue that kept him out of Game 1, and that will also keep him out of Game 2. It’s easy to think he could go play on the Practice Squad for a year – but with his skill potential and high character, the likelihood Taylor will clear waivers without being picked up by another team is tough to imagine. Last but not least, is former Steeler Ryan Mundy. Getting a ton of attention through camp, he brings smart veteran leadership (which will be important in the case that Rolle has any setback with the ankle sprain suffered in camp this week), and he has already shown he is powerful on Special Teams. With 4 likely spots, keep your eyes on this position – there’s lots of depth – so I am really excited to see how this plays out in the preseason games to come.
- Linebackers: After the last game, I said that Spencer Paysinger was the only linebacker I noticed really bring something extra to the field. Everyone else was fine – but ‘fine’ isn’t enough. I think I said on Twitter this week about Herzlich (but insert most names at this position here): ‘still looks like an 80% LB – need to see that 20% extra of quickness and power to be a lock (as starter)…’ So that is what I’m looking for this week from all of the linebackers: Herzlich, Connor, Rivers, Williams, Curry, Bosworth, Paysinger – only that consistent extra 20% will help me to definitively say who should start and who makes the final cut.
- Offensive Line: All I really want to see is where we have any depth this week. I want to see a solid start out of the first team, and know who can possibly back them up to protect Eli in the case of injury.Also looking for versatility – who can play dual roles on the line if necessary. With that said, we’ll see 1st draft pick Justin Pugh for the first time (since he missed last week with a concussion). Oh, I should mention that I want to see a solid game out of anyone who thinks they might play Center.
- Wide Receivers: As far as I’m concerned, one of my new favorite character players, Louis Murphy, is a lock. So I am looking closely for #5 between Barden, Jernigan, Talley, and this will depend on who can be a weapon at WR, versus the versatility to add something significant to Special Teams. Honestly, I am having a very hard time thinking Jernigan can make it through to the final 53 for yet another year.
- Defensive Line: How many will we keep??? Well, lets take a look: Tuck, JPP, Kiwi, Damontre Moore, Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Johnanthan Hankins are locks. That’s 7: 4 DEs and 3 DTs. We’ll take 2-3 more depending on what we do at other positions. We have Big Mike Patterson, Kuhn (still on PUP), Rogers, Okam and Austin at DT, and Ojomo, Tracy, Trattou, Mertile and Broha at DE. A little depth, ay? Of these guys, who’s going to be versatile across the line, help stop the run, bring something to special teams, AND play these last 3 preseason games like there are no more games ever to be played? Also, it would be nice if we could see Ojomo play with the 1st team a little. By the way, I think we will find a way to keep 10. Hey, it could be a lot worse! We could also have nobody really solid to choose from!
- Cornerbacks: I won’t go into a long diatribe here. I just want to see if T2 (Terrell Thomas) can play and be a factor. He won’t play this week, but no matter how much we want him to come back, I feel if he is going to make the team, he has to play in preseason and show that he can take a hit. I think we will keep 5-6 Corners. So I want to see who stands out most between Charles James (used quite a bit last week in returns), Trumaine McBride, Laron Scott, and Terrence Frederick. I believe one of these guys can make the team.
- Quarterback: This so-called competition between Carr and Painter? I don’t buy it. Carr is #2, unless something goes seriously wrong this week (Carr is playing #2 against The Colts), and something goes seriously right next week (Painter will be #2 versus The Jets). (And a gratuitous photo of David Carr is rarely an issue, so here it is).
- Special Teams: I’m still looking to see who may be the best fit to return punts – remember, it’s a healthy combo of leadership, quick decision-making and willingness to take risks, in addition to being able to catch the ball and run like a Kenyan on speed! Rueben Randle is the guy I trust most here – BUT, I’d prefer not to risk him when he is becoming a huge weapon at receiver. So let’s see what happens…
And last but not least – NO INJURIES!
Well that’s it for the pre-game overview. Catch you on the other side – enjoy Week 2!
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