Steppin' to the A.M.: Five things to watch

August, 18, 2012
8/18/12
9:57
AM ET


The Giants and Jets meet for the first time since last Christmas Eve, when Victor Cruz made Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie learn his name.

It'll be fun to watch Cruz against Revis or Cromartie, if only for a brief time. Here are five things to keep an eye on tonight:

BACKUP RB: The battle for the backup running back spot got off to an interesting start as D.J. Ware, Andre Brown and David Wilson all made an impression in the preseason opener against Jacksonville.

Wilson led the Giants in rushing with 43 yards on seven carries, including a 26-yard run. The first-round pick, who also had two catches for 26 yards, looked like he could bust a big play on any carry and it will be fun to watch him tonight.

Ware showed good burst and cut with 30 yards and a touchdown on five carries. Brown had 25 yards on seven carries. Da'Rel Scott did not play against Jacksonville, but should be available tonight and will have to make some sort of impression after missing time in camp due to injuries.

THIRD WR: Keep an eye on the battle for the third wide receiver spot. Domenik Hixon is expected to play tonight after missing the preseason opener due to injury. Hixon will start opposite Cruz, in place of Hakeem Nicks. Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden and Rueben Randle will all get another chance to state their case to replace Mario Manningham.

It's possible the Giants could start the season trying to fill the third spot by committee until someone like Randle emerges. Randle looked good in the preseason opener with two catches, including a touchdown.

THE BLACK UNICORN: It will be Martellus Bennett's second game as a Giant, and his preseason Giant debut wasn't bad. He had three catches for 27 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville. He is a big, agile target for Eli Manning and the Giants hope to continue to see more chemistry between the two against the Jets.

MAN IN THE MIDDLE: The competition for middle linebacker could heat up tonight between Chase Blackburn and Mark Herzlich. Herzlich has looked good in camp and another strong outing will put a little more heat on Blackburn, currently the starter. Blackburn knows the defense well and the Giants trust him. But Herzlich's athleticism and strength are hard to ignore.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Keep an eye on the returners. Wilson looked good on kickoff returns against Jacksonville, busting one for 48 yards. But what will Tom Coughlin do at punt returner? Rookie Jayron Hosley looked good on punts until he muffed one. Then Jernigan muffed another punt return. Coughlin was clearly not thrilled and the Giants need to see improvement and figure out if Hosley or Jernigan can handle the job. Otherwise, they may have to look to Hixon.

Tell us below what you are looking forward to seeing the most tonight.
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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