EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The preseason is finally over. But before the Giants move on in earnest to start preparing for the Cowboys next Wednesday, one more important thing needs to happen:
More specifically, the Giants need to trim their roster from 75 players to 53, prior to 9 p.m. Friday.
General manager Jerry Reese, head coach Tom Coughlin and the rest of his staff have some very tough decisions to make in the next 24 hours or so.
"I feel that we put a solid group of guys together," said running back Andre Brown on Thursday. "It’s hard for them to make the choices upstairs."
Brown is one of the players who will be nervous leading up to Friday night's deadline. Originally a fourth-round draft choice by the Giants in 2009 out of NC State, Brown already has been waived eight different times in his NFL career, by five different teams.
The 25-year-old has just two regular-season carries on his resume, with the Broncos back in 2010. But in the Giants' final preseason game, Wednesday night against the Patriots, Brown carried the ball a team-high 14 times, accumulating 55 yards.
"I feel very good with my ability, and that I came out there and I produced what I did," said Brown. "I picked up my blocks, I was solid in my protection. I felt as though I put my best foot forward."
But will that be enough? The Giants already have Ahmad Bradshaw, along with first-round draft pick David Wilson. Brown, sixth-year man D.J. Ware and second-year vet Da'Rel Scott all may be competing for just one spot.
"He played well," said Coughlin of Brown. "He ran hard. He made some good, solid powerful runs. He missed a cut here or there. Of course he put the ball on the ground and Bear Pascoe really helped by being on the spot. But I liked the way in which he played and the effort he displayed and speed with which he played. He caught the ball coming out of the backfield as did Da'Rel."
"They both played a lot of special teams and showed speed and some power on special teams which is a real plus," Coughlin added, of Brown and Scott. "I think both of them distinguished themselves."
(The head coach's praise of Brown and Scott has to make you wonder about Ware's future.)
And running back isn't the only position at which there is intense competition. With a number of injuries on the defensive line, the Giants have some very difficult decisions to make in that area as well.
Defensive end Adewale Ojomo, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Miami, had a team-high four sacks in the preseason, and made the game-winning play against the Pats on Wednesday. But even he isn't feeling too sure of himself.
"Yeah, I’m really nervous right now at this point," said Ojomo. "There’s a lot banking on this."
Douglas -- who signed with the Giants back in May after finishing his college career at Arizona -- had just one catch for 23 yards in the four preseason games, but had some impressive moments in practice as well.
Scott -- a Georgia Southern product who was only brought into camp two weeks ago -- certainly finished the preseason on a good note, with an interception in the final minute Wednesday night to seal the Giants' 6-3 victory over New England.
"Yeah, it’s gonna be a long day tomorrow," Scott said. "Hopefully those guys decide to keep me around. But if not, I’m just happy the organization gave me a chance."
The Giants did not practice on Thursday, since they played Wednesday. The players were at the facility early in the day for team meetings. Now they're off until Saturday -- meaning all those players on the bubble have a lot of time to kill before Friday at 9 p.m.
"Last year I just sat in the room," said Brown, who was cut by the Giants last Sept. 3, before being re-signed to the practice squad the following day. "So, not gonna sit in the room and wait for the phone call (this year). I’m actually gonna go out -- probably a movie, or fish or something. Find a pond around here."
Many of the young players have been staying in a hotel near the Giants' training facility since the team returned from training camp in Albany.
"There’s a lot of us who stick around the hotel, and we’ve become good buds," said Douglas. "So we’ll all probably be hanging around."
Dreams are about to come true, and be crushed, here in East Rutherford. All that's left to do now is sit back and let the chips fall where they may.
"I felt like I came out and gave it my all every day," said Douglas. "That’s all you can really do."