It’s an interesting game because by Monday at 4pm EST, teams will need to trim rosters down to 75 (from 90) in a first round of cuts. So guys sitting on the bubble will get playing time, and it will be interesting to see when they play, and for how long. For now, I’ll briefly comment on what I’ll be watching for this weekend in addition to that, and also go on a bit of a tangent based on an interesting story I heard from Gil Brandt when I called into SiriusXM NFL Radio this morning.
First and foremost: Can the Giants Offensive Line protect the QB? This is interesting for a couple of reasons. Of course I’ve been thinking about this all week after the poor showing against the Colts last week. And since then, we’ve also lost a couple of starting Dave’s (Dave Baas – C, and Dave Diehl – G/T) – so the critical brick wall that protects Eli is getting even thinner on the depth chart. I’m also interested to see whether or not the Offensive Line play, could possibly affect the backup QB competition. The other Dave: Carr did not look good last week (as an aside, Carr always looks good, but his game play didn’t look so good) – but the protections didn’t help him one bit. So how will this thinner OL look this week, and will it help Curtis Painter’s play look better than Dave Carr?
Is T2 back: After 2 long years off the field, with 2 career- threatening ACL injuries, Terrell Thomas makes it back to play in this weekend’s game. I am both excited for him, and scared to see him take that first hit. I remember 2 preseasons ago before getting injured, it was contagious to watch his passion and leadership out there on the field. I would love no other than to see him be able to come back. But he has to take that first hit. Can he be explosive? Can he play without fear? Can he play ALL IN and be a key contributor to the team this year? That’s what I’m looking for.
Is it possible for any of these 3 guys to make the team? Still watching Ojomo (71), Tracy (98), and Trattou (69) closely. Look, one always shows up BIG to preseason games – against the 3rd or 4th teams – and clearly, is a fan favorite outside in (I would love Adewale to make it again too). According to many people in the know, he is fairly invisible in practice. Tracy and Trattou have been solid in preseason and very strong in camp. So first, it’s a toss-up. Second, can even one of them slide into the 53-man roster? Lets see (this is based on my assumptions looking at past years, and making some of my own assumptions):
QB (3), FB (1), TE (3), WR (5), RB (4), OL (9), DL (9), LB (7), CB (5), S (4), K (1), P (1), LS (1) = 53
Something has to give. Assume the Giants can only keep 9 Defensive Linemen. Clearly we have a ton of good depth here. Who do we have: Joseph, Jenkins, Hankins, Rogers likely at the Tackle position. Tuck, JPP, Moore and Kiwi are locks at the End. 1 spot left. Now we have to choose between Big Mike Patterson, Kuhn (still out), Okam, Austin, Broha, Ojomo, Trattou and Tracy. And if we gave a 10th spot to a Defensive Lineman, where do we take from to do that? (Of course many of us would like to take from that 3rd QB, but we won’t this year).
So that led me to ask an interesting question I asked of NFL analyst and historian, Gil Brandt, this morning with Super Zig Fracassi on SiriusXM NFL Radio (this is the tangent I mentioned earlier):
Who have been the BEST players of all time who did not originally make it onto the final roster, cleared waivers to the Practice Squad, and started out there before making their mark?
Of course Gil reminded me of Kurt Warner, but he also mentioned another relatively unknown guy in NFL lure: Johnny Unitas.
Meanwhile, it might be interesting to hear the anecdotal story added by Brandt to the conversation (even though it’s kind of an opposite answer to the original question):
Back in 1956, there were only 12 teams in the NFL, and they were all very competitive with one another. Gil was a scout for the Los Angeles Rams at the time. As they were preparing draft prospects for their board, they jokingly had the Rams staff pull film on an athlete out of Hamline University by the name of Dick Donlin. He wasn’t really a football star. In fact, he played basketball and track, and wasn’t particularly good at football. Ironically, the then Baltimore Colts caught wind that The Rams were (apparently) very HOT on this guy Dick Donlin – and in effort to out-maneuver The Rams, The Colts ended up drafting him in the 2nd round! He never played a snap.
And after that commercial break, back to this week’s game and what I’m looking for…
Can we continue to improve on the running game each game of this preseason? Last week, we saw a better running game than in Week 1. What will Week 3 show about the direction of David Wilson, Andre Brown and Michael Cox?
Same thing for the Run Defense. Will it continue to improve from last week? Looks to me like Spencer Paysinger is a starting WLB. For now, Dan Connor is looking like he might start at MLB (although I saw a video the other day and he was very humble, saying that he just wanted the start to go to whoever would do best to help the team). This week we will also help cipher out who likely gets the starting role at Strong Side LB.
Receiving. The receiving corps is deadly when we have Nicks, Cruz and Randle in the game. Defenses obviously can’t double cover all of them. But with Cruz out for now and healing his, well, his heel – can the Giants still be a threat with Nicks, Randle and someone else like Murphy, Barden (possibly out injured), Jernigan, or - I hear Kevin Hardy has been coming on strong in camp. I am also looking to see a strong game (we didn’t last week), from Tight Ends Brandon Myers and Adrien Robinson.
Which of the bubble guys step up enough to make to game 4?
Anyway, that’s about it for this week as far as my pre-game thoughts. We’ll see what happens. Who do you think will stand out enough to make it beyond the first cut?
More post game. ALL IN.
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