By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com
Approach to the Game: Things get a little more serious on Saturday. The second exhibition game is usually the second most important as the starters usually play an entire half of football. We’ll see less of the third- and fourth-teamers in this game. The starters looked pretty sharp on Monday, but not many plays were made by the starters or reserves in the passing game to the wide receivers. Obviously, it is important for some of the down-the-field threats to start making some noise.
Quarterbacks: Eli Manning was sharp on Monday, but it would be nice to see him connect with his wide receivers more. David Carr was up-and-down. He needs to do a better job of getting rid of the ball when pressured. Andre’ Woodson was dreadful. He was too mechanical and looked to be operating at half-speed. If he doesn’t improve in game situations, it’s hard to see how the Giants can justify a roster spot for him. Rhett Bomar flashed a bit when given time.
Wide Receivers: Disappointingly, no one really stood out on Monday. If Steve Smith plays, it will be interesting to see how effective/healthy he is and how he does as a first-time starter. It’s pretty certain that Smith and Domenik Hixon will be the starters heading into the season. Sinorice Moss needs to make more noise down the field. If not, his playing time should go to one of the younger guys such as Mario Manningham, Ramses Barden, or Hakeem Nicks. On the incomplete third-down pass to Manningham against the Panthers, Mario misread the coverage and ran the wrong route. That’ll make your quarterback look bad, and more importantly, lose you ball games. All of the young receivers are going to make those type of mistakes this year; the key is to cut down on the errors. Hopefully Barden and Nicks get some playing time with Manning or Carr so they can be more effectively evaluated. Derek Hagan has to prove he’s not just a practice player and do it in games or he is toast.
Running Backs: Instead of arguing who is better, can’t we just enjoy the fact that the Giants once again have a two- and possibly three-head monster at halfback? Brandon Jacobs sets the table with his physical running style that intimidates and wears down an opponent. Ahmad Bradshaw is the change-up. Danny Ware is the insurance policy. What’s promising is that all three looked good catching the ball on Monday. If the wide receivers struggle this year, passes to the backs and tight ends will become critically important. Is Allen Patrick good enough to use a roster space on?
Tight Ends: Given the state of the wide receiving corps, I would not be shocked to see Kevin Boss lead the Giants in receptions this year. He’ll be Eli’s security blanket. The same question remains with me – to carry three or four tight ends? I’d like to see Travis Beckum get a bit more involved in the passing game.
Offensive Line: Minus both starting guards, the first-unit did a nice job on Monday against a good defense. Tuten Reyes seems to have become the new Grey Ruegamer and Kevin Boothe seems to still have the coaching staff’s trust. Chris Snee (knee) might be held out another week; it will be interesting to see if Rich Seubert (shoulder) is held out too. The reserve offensive line unit appeared to lack cohesion against the Panthers as the running game and pass protection struggled in the second half. But guys like William Beatty and Adam Koets received a lot of valuable playing time. One wonders how the Giants truly feel about Guy Whimper?
Defensive Line: I can’t emphasize enough how lucky we are to have Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck as starting defensive ends. The one guy who I want to start seeing more from is Mathias Kiwanuka. He should have dominated on Monday against the second-team line and did not. Dave Tollefson doesn’t seem to make many plays. With Chris Canty able to play end and tackle, I would be very tempted to keep Maurice Evans over Tollefson as Evans appears to have a much higher upside. But it is games like this that will ultimately determine who makes it and who doesn’t. Regardless, if the Giants do keep Tollefson or Evans, they aren’t likely to be active on game day much in 2009.
Inside, it’s just a matter of how quickly Fred Robbins (knee), Chris Canty (hamstring), and Rocky Bernard (hamstring) can play and play at a high level. Even Barry Cofield (knee) is probably not 100 percent. Will Robbins and Bernard see their first snaps in a game this weekend? Meanwhile, Jay Alford is making a statement.
Linebackers: The back seven, including the linebackers, didn’t impress me with their tackling on Monday. Hopefully that improves as the players continue to work out the preseason kinks. The star against the Panthers was Clint Sintim, but that was more from the LDE spot. With this line and this secondary, the linebackers should be making more plays. Now is the time to get noticed and earn playing time when it really counts.
Defensive Backs: It doesn’t sound like Aaron Ross (hamstring) will be back soon. He’s got Terrell Thomas breathing down his neck. Will Corey Webster (hip) see his first action this week? If not, look for more valuable playing time for Stoney Woodson, Bruce Johnson, and DeAndre Wright.
The run support and tackling needs to improve for both the corners and safeties. The starting safeties – Michael Johnson and Kenny Phillips – did not flash last Monday. C.C. Brown has the #3 job locked up, but what about the fourth safety spot? Who wants it?
Special Teams: Sinorice Moss is not an instinctive, natural returner. I’d like to see Manningham get the punt return experience. Who is the kick returner on this team?
Lawrence Tynes has had a strong camp, but missed one field goal against the Panthers. He’s not going anywhere, but it would be nice to see him be a bit more automatic from 45 yards in (it always seems like his field goals are never right down the middle but barely inside the upright).
Jeff Feagles – love ya – but boy did you get fat!