Approach to the Game – Kansas City Chiefs at New York Giants, August 17, 2006: Aside from coming out of the game healthy, the number one goal for the Giants in this game is to have the first-team offense and defense demonstrate more toughness and be more physical and aggressive. The best indicator for this will be the ability or inability of the Giants to run the football and defend the run.
Giants on Offense: The Giants should have all 11 starters on offense playing as RG Chris Snee (knee), TE Jeremy Shockey (concussion), and HB Tiki Barber return to the lineup. There are no excuses – its time for the first-team offense to begin to get into sync and show that it is one of the best offensive units in the NFL. What I want to see more than anything on offense is the offensive line controlling the line of scrimmage by creating holes for the ground game and providing QB Eli Manning with sufficient time to make plays down the field. We know the starters on the offensive line are going to be LT Luke Petitgout, LG David Diehl, OC Shaun O’Hara, RG Chris Snee, and RT Kareem McKenzie. At tackle, the Giants will keep Bob Whitfield and Guy Whimper (will not play against the Chiefs due to a hip flexor injury). We also know that OG/OC Rich Seubert is likely a lock – though Seubert (turf toe) will not play against the Chiefs. One would think OC/OG Grey Ruegamer would be likely to make the squad. Of the rest, based on the amount of playing time that they received, it looks like OG Matt Lentz and OT/OG Na’Shan Goddard have the best chance to make the Practice Squad.
I hope the Giants don’t keep HB Tiki Barber in the game very long…maybe a couple of series. I would like to see a more consistently productive game out of HB Brandon Jacobs this week.
The locks at wide receiver are Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, Sinorice Moss (who continues to miss valuable preseason and practice time with a quad injury), Tim Carter (who is saving himself with a strong camp), and David Tyree (special teams ace who will not play with an ankle injury). Again, the question is will the Giants carry five or six wide receivers this year? If they carry six, the leading candidates appear to be Willie Ponder, Michael Jennings, and Anthony Mix.
To me, the more interesting roster battle is at tight end. After Shockey, one would assume Visanthe Shiancoe is the second tight end. Many reports out of training camp have said he has looked good, but I didn’t think he played well at all last week and he reportedly is dealing with knee issues (knee cyst). Interestingly, Wade Fletcher seems to be the next guy in line. Many fans expected that Boo Williams would win the second or third job heading into camp, but he only saw time with the scrubs last week – that’s not a good sign for him. Darcy Johnson may be ahead of him in the pecking order right now.
Finally on offense, this is absolutely huge game for QB Rob Johnson, who has struggled by all accounts in training camp. If he continues to demonstrate indecisiveness and a weak arm, he’s likely a goner. It’s a good sign for Jared Lorenzen that he will see time as the #3 quarterback again this week.
Giants on Defense: We all know what the main problem defensively is right now – the Giants have to find a defensive tackle combination that can stop the run. If the Giants don’t, it won’t matter how many pass rushers are on this team. If opposing offenses are regularly in 2nd-and-5 or 3rd-and-2 situations, the pass rush becomes moot.
The heat is on William Joseph (3-technique tackle) and Fred Robbins (nose tackle). Barry Cofield (3-technique tackle) and Jonas Seawright (nose tackle) are breathing down their necks, respectively. Even Damane Duckett may enter the picture again. The single most disappointing player to me last week was Joseph. It’s time for him to become a consistently productive player who makes plays. If not, we’re coming darn close to officially labeling him a bust. The Chiefs, as most fans know, are one of the elite rushing teams in the NFL. This will be a stern test for the big guys up front. It will be curious to see if the Giants carry four or five tackles into the season. If one or more of these five guys continue to disappoint, the Giants may be scanning the waiver wire soon.
At defensive end, Michael Strahan returns this week. We know that he, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck (someone who did not stand out last week), and Mathias Kiwanuka (maybe the star of the game for the Giants last week) are locks. Do the Giants carry five ends? If so, personally, I think Adrian Awasom is the guy who will make it – he was impressive on the pass rush against the Ravens. But the Giants may be forced to carry five tackles instead.
At linebacker, it will be great to finally see LaVar Arrington in a Giants’ uniform. Let’s hope his knee holds up well. Unfortunately, Carlos Emmons (burner) is still out. It will be interesting to see who starts in his place. Will it be Brandon Short (knee), Chase Blackburn (who started their last week), Reggie Torbor, or Gerris Wilkinson? I hope Short can also play this week – I want to see if the slimmed down version is any quicker or faster. Another player who really disappointed me last week was Reggie Torbor. I hope he rebounds in this game.
In the secondary, SS Gibril Wilson had a rough game last week covering TE Todd Heap. Wilson, the rest of the secondary, and linebackers will face another elite tight end this week in Tony Gonzalez. CB Sam Madison (hamstring) will not play. Frank Walker may start at right corner, though R.W. McQuarters is also an option. Walker has played well in camp – can he become one of the surprises of the preseason? Curtis Deloatch needs a strong game. If the Giants carry five corners, Corey Webster, Madison, and McQuarters are locks. Walker, Deloatch, E.J. Underwood, Gerrick McPhearson, and Brandon Williams are probably fighting for two spots. Jason Bell could factor into the corner or safety competition. Will Demps, Wilson, and James Butler are the locks there. Do the Giants keep one or two more? Bell, Charlie Peprah, and Quentin Harris are all in the running.
Giants on Special Teams: Final roster spots are almost always determined by special teams play. So this is where guys like Fletcher, Darcy Johnson, Ponder, Jennings, Mix, Awasom, Short, Torbor, Walker, Deloatch, Underwood, McPhearson, Brandon Williams, Bell, Peprah, and Harris could really hurt or help their respective causes.
Special teams will be weakened as Tyree will not play.
I’d like to see Jay Feely hit a long field goal or two after missing one last week.