WHAT IT MEANS: The preseason is finally over and now the New York Giants (2-2) can start preparing for the season opener against the Washington Redskins on Sept. 11. First, they have to cut their roster down to 53 players by Saturday.
This preseason finale was basically a final audition for many of the backups trying to make the squad. The Giants rested almost all of their starters Thursday night and the second team got experience working against Tom Brady and the Patriots' starters.
The Giants' special teams remains a work in progress and health also continues to be an issue, as backup linebacker Clint Sintim became the latest defender to go down with an injury.
ANOTHER GIANT INJURY: Sintim had to be carted off the field with a season-ending ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee. The Giants also say it is likely that Sintim tore his surgically-repaired right ACL as well.
Sintim was making his way back from a torn ACL suffered last December. He was slated to back up Mathias Kiwanuka this season. Kiwanuka hopes to be ready for the season opener against the Redskins despite a mild groin injury.
MAKING THE CUT: There were several players trying to make the team on Thursday night. Sintim's injury opens up a spot for one of the several young linebackers.
Second-team linebacker Phillip Dillard got a chance to play against Brady. Sixth-round pick Greg Jones, who has done well in camp and contributes on special teams, had a sack and should have had a fumble recovery but watched the ball squirt out from underneath him. Still, Jones likely will make the team. Spencer Paysinger, an undrafted rookie from Oregon, has moved up to the second team.
Former Boston College star Mark Herzlich got a good amount of work on Thursday. He's hoping to make the squad as a backup linebacker and a starter on special teams. Same goes for sixth-round pick Jacquian Williams, who was credited with three sacks. There's also Adrian Tracy, who can play defensive end.
It will be a long Friday and Saturday for some of these linebackers with potential.
SPEED KILLS: One rookie who may have secured a roster spot on Thursday is seventh-round pick Da'Rel Scott, who hasn't received a ton of work in the preseason but has shown home-run speed.
The Giants scored their first touchdown against the Patriots with trickery, faking a punt and giving a direct snap to Scott, who blazed his way for a 65-yard touchdown run early in the fourth. No Patriot came within a mile of Scott, who also had a 97-yard touchdown run against the Bears. The Giants also have tried getting Scott in space with short passes.
The Giants already have Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs and D.J. Ware at running back. Andre Brown, who is fighting for a spot as well, had 68 yards on 21 carries against New England. Scott finished with 114 yards on 12 carries.
JERNIGAN'S JOURNEY: Third-round pick Jerrel Jernigan has been having a Matt Dodge-like rookie season so far. After muffing three punts and fumbling another against the Jets on Monday, Jernigan muffed another one right into the hands of Gary Guyton, who ran it into the end zone. But the Patriots were flagged for illegal formation, nullifying the play.
On the ensuing punt, Jernigan bobbled the catch before securing it and being tackled.
Tom Coughlin admitted that he hasn't used Domenik Hixon as his punt returner in hopes of keeping the veteran healthy. Hixon, who started against New England, is making his way back from a torn ACL last summer.
Jernigan did display his potential when he made an impressive catch in the back of the end zone on a two-point conversion that put the Giants up 18-17 in the fourth quarter. And he later had a nifty 15-yard punt return as well.
MORE SPECIAL INCONSISTENCY: Kicker Rhys Lloyd has a shown a big leg but he missed two of three field goals. He made one from 48 yards out but his misses came from 48 and 49 yards out.
Lawrence Tynes remains out with a quad injury suffered in the preseason opener.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Giants have to cut their roster to 80 on Friday before slashing it to 53 on Saturday. After the weekend, the Giants begin preparing for the Redskins and the season opener on Sept. 11.