They used to call Giants-Jets the game for town braggin' rights. But to use that term here seems kinda dumb, considering the starters will play only a quarter or so, as is the custom with preseason openers.
That's okay, though, since we'll all get a first look at some of the more important issues facing the Giants. Here's a rundown:
INJURIES: A small battalion will sit on the sidelines with injuries, including LB Keith Bulluck (knee), WR Steve Smith (groin), WR Sinorice Moss (leg), G Rich Seubert (hand), G Chris Snee (knee), S Kenny Phillips (knee), S Michael Johnson (back), WR Tim Brown (groin and hamstring), TE Travis Beckum (hamstring), TE Kevin Boss (hamstring), TE Jake Ballard (hamstring), and possibly TE Scott Chandler (hip flexor).
THE STORYLINES: Running Backs -- We'll get our first look at how Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs have recovered from their surgeries. Bradshaw has had by most accounts a very good camp, but he still needs to prove he can run and cut against heavy tackling. It will be interesting to see him take that first hit and see how he reacts. Also, we might get some small idea of how Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride plan to use each guy. If Bradshaw takes the first set of carries, there's a chance he'll be the starter. Look to see if Jacobs has that old power up the middle, and whether he hits his holes with authority.
DBs: Ought to be fun to watch Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant team up in the first quarter. But better to watch backups Mike Greco and Sha'reff Rashad, as they're battling injured Michael Johnson for the third spot. Rashad hasn't been mentioned much, but Greco made some plays early in camp. Aaron Ross should see time at cornerback after Terrell Thomas finishes up. And keep an eye on Bruce Johnson, who made some plays at the end of last week as he continues his own push at nickel.
OL: Will Beatty gets his first chance at left tackle, though David Diehl will start. With G Rich Seubert out, Diehl will probably get some work at left guard, where he ultimately could end up if Beatty wins the left tackle battle. Guy Whimper and Mitch Petrus will see work at both guards since Chris Snee is also out. The fifth-round rookie Petrus is having a good camp and, by some observations, looks like a starter in the near future. How close? We may get an idea tonight.
WR: Ramses Barden has made some spectacular catches in drills. Now he needs to do it in a game. Given that Steve Smith is out, he may get extended time and he needs to do something with it. The coaches would love to see him rise to active gameday status, but he has to find some consistency first. At the injury-depleted tight end spot, DE Dave Tollefson has taken some practice snaps there. Let's see if Coughlin uses him in a game.
Return Game: Andre Brown has been healthy all camp and will get his first shot at kickoff return, along with DJ Ware. Aaron Ross will return punts, as will Victor Cruz, the rookie wide receiver who burst into the forefront last week as he stepped up his game.
The Rookies: DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Linval Joseph will get a good look as a tandem. But more important, see if Pierre-Paul gets penetration against what should be comparable competition opposite him. He came into camp raw, but seems to be developing at a good pace. Joseph could make a great case here for a big role in the inside rotation. MLB Phillip Dillard has been all but invisible in camp. He'll probably get some time here, though. Sixth-round DE Adrian Tracy has made some plays. And seventh-rounder Matt Dodge will want to show some consistency of punts with that big leg of his. As for the undrafted, WR Victor Cruz, CB Seth Williams, and WR Duke Calhoun are all worth watching.
The Stadium: It's had plenty of shakedowns already with a college lacrosse tournament, Bon Jovi, and most recently Brazil-USA soccer. The hope is that most of the kinks, such as ill-placed directional signs, have been worked out and everything goes smoothly. Will be interesting to see how the exterior lighting works.
That's it. I'm going to put up the live blog so you guys can talk, so look for that just before gametime.
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