By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com
Approach to the Game – New England Patriots at New York Giants, August 29, 2012: If you told most BBIers that in late August, after training camp is over and a week before the regular season starts, that only three Giant players would be on Injured Reserve at this point and they would be Justin Trattou, Martin Parker, and Brandon Mosley, most would have been pretty pleased – especially since Trattou’s and Mosley’s injuries are not really that serious.
But the injury situation is obviously more serious and complicated than that. Chris Canty is on the PUP. Terrell Thomas, Shaun Rogers, and Marvin Austin only may be a few days away from Injured Reserve. And key players already have potentially season-long nagging injuries including Prince Amukamara, Jayron Hosley, Will Beatty, and James Brewer. One also continues to wonder about Justin Tuck’s neck/shoulder. Two starting linebackers – Michael Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka – are also a bit banged up but should be getting better.
It’s not a bleak injury situation, but it certainly is frustrating. The real area of concern is obviously the corner position where the #2, #3, and #4 corners are hurt. Do the Giants have the roster space and patience to keep Thomas on the 53-man roster? Is it worth the gamble of losing someone else who can contribute now and/or in the future (a guy like Adewale Ojomo for example)? Also, at defensive tackle, same question with respect to Marvin Austin and Shaun Rogers. If this was a rebuilding team, the answer would be easy. But it’s not. This is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The goal is to win now.
The Giants have some tough roster decisions to make. And the Giants-Patriots preseason game could make those decisions easier or tougher. At least 22 roster moves need to be made on Friday.
Giants on Offense: Eli Manning and the starters should see a couple of series – just enough to stay sharp. I’d sit starters down right away – especially Eli and Victor Cruz. Hakeem Nicks may see his first action of the preseason. The temptation will be there to give him more snaps than he normally would receive in order to get him into game shape, but the Giants certainly don’t want to risk him hurting his foot again. It will be interesting to see how much he plays. Chris Snee (leg) did not practice all week which suggests he will not play on Wednesday. If true, this will be a great opportunity for Mitch Petrus to impress, especially since he hasn’t looked real sharp this preseason. It’s also another reason to get Eli out of the game sooner rather than later.
Aside from Petrus, more was also expected from Will Beatty and James Brewer. Both have been limited by back issues. Beatty still might be considered the starter at left tackle, but has yet to play in a preseason game. He did get some reps with the first-team offensive line in practice this week however. Will he play against the Patriots? And how will his back hold up? Brewer has looked good at times in the preseason and bad at others. For some reason (probably to increase their flexibility and options), Brewer played at left tackle last week and Matt McCants played at right tackle. When both had played the reverse sides, they performed better against the Jaguars and Jets. Brewer missed practice (back?) on Monday. Will he play on Wednesday? The Patriots game will be huge for McCants and Jim Cordle. If Stephen Goodin shows enough, he could end up on the Practice Squad.
There still is a big battle at wide receiver for playing time behind Cruz and Nicks. Ramses Barden played well last week, but consistency is the key. Can he do it again? Domenik Hixon has been strangely quiet and has yet to return a punt or kickoff. Is he safe? The Giants love Rueben Randle, but it’s clear he still has a lot to learn. He wasn’t on the same page with Eli against the Bears. Where does Jerrel Jernigan fit into the puzzle? Are the Giants really going to part ways with David Douglas? He won’t make it to the Practice Squad.
David Wilson is the real deal. Ahmad Bradshaw is a very important part of this team, but Wilson is a game-changer. Wilson will push Bradshaw and that’s a good thing for both players, and most importantly, for the team. But who is the third back? D.J. Ware is the safest choice because he is the veteran. But Da’Rel Scott has the bigger upside. I would be tempted to cut Ware and re-sign him later if someone got hurt. (I don’t think anyone is going to pick up Ware). I don’t see a lot of potential in Andre Brown.
Lastly, I hope David Carr plays better this week. He played like crap against the Bears. The Giants need a backup they can trust.
Giants on Defense: Jason Pierre-Paul (back), Justin Tuck (shoulder), and Osi Umenyiora (knee) did not practice on Monday. I would not play any of them. I could care less if the Patriots won 45-0.
Interestingly, when the Giants made 15 roster moves this week, they kept all of their defensive ends. That not only suggests that the starters may not play against the Patriots, but it also probably tells you that the Giants know other teams are waiting for Adewale Ojomo, Matt Broha, and Craig Marshall to be released. I get the sense that some fans are frustrated with Adrian Tracy since he hasn’t played since hurting his hamstring against the Jets. But keep in mind that he was impressive against the Jaguars and the coaches and players are really high on him. The big question is this: is there room for both Tracy and Ojomo on the 53-man roster? I also like what I see out of Broha. Will another team snag him? Is there a trade market for one of these backups? Complicating matters is Tracy probably won’t play against the Patriots so Ojomo and Broha will have even more chances to impress other teams.
Inside, I think Markus Kuhn has made this team behind Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard (both of whom should get out of the Patriots game ASAP). What the heck do the Giants do with Shaun Rogers (blood clot) and Marvin Austin (back)? Rogers would be a great asset, but he might be too much of a luxury at this point. Austin has done nothing, but do you want to keep the #2 pick out of football for three years in a row? Would it be safer just to give the spot to Marcus Thomas? The situation sucks.
The linebacker spot is pretty settled. Paysinger has out-played Greg Jones. And Herzlich probably did not do enough to unseat Blackburn in the short term. We should see Jacquian Williams for the first time this preseason. But unfortunately, still no Michael Boley. And Mathias Kiwanuka (groin) will not play on Wednesday. Thank God for Keith Rivers!
At safety, the top three guys have been set for a long time: Kenny Phillips (who has really played well), Antrel Rolle (who has been surprisingly invisible), and Will Hill (a future starter if he stays away from drugs). Tyler Sash will be suspended for four games. Do the Giants keep Stevie Brown who has not stood out in the secondary, but has looked good on specials?
Cornerback. The Giants may sink or swim at this position. Is Terrell Thomas really still in the picture? Or will his season be over in a few days? How fast can Prince Amukamara and Jayron Hosley come back and how much will they be hampered by their nagging injuries? Michael Coe looks like the best of the bunch after that. I would not play Corey Webster. Aside from Eli Manning, he might be the most valuable player on this team at the current moment.
Giants on Specials: I find it very, very interesting that David Douglas received so much playing time in the return game last week. I’m still not sure who will be our returners on opening day. I’m guessing David Wilson on kick returns but have no idea about who the punt returner is. I was impressed with Douglas’ sure hands however.