Sunday, August 3, 2014
W2W4: New York Giants
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
The New York Giants and Buffalo Bills open the preseason Sunday night (8 ET, NBC) at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio. Here are three things to watch for from the Giants' end:
1. The structure of the new offense: Without wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) and running back David Wilson (neck), the offense lacks two of its speedier pieces. And Eli Manning and the starters won't play more than about 15 or 20 plays. But you will get your first look at the drastically different scheme the Giants are installing under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. It will be up-tempo. It will likely involve some no-huddle. The passing game will rely on shorter stuff close to the line of scrimmage to help the pace. The running game will be more complex, with added emphasis on stretch and zone runs. The Giants won't show their whole playbook, or anything close to it, in this or any other preseason game, but if you've been looking for a taste of how this year's offense will operate differently from the Giants' offenses of years past, Sunday night should help you out.
2. The cornerbacks: Newcomers Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond have been two of the standout stars of Giants training camp practices. It will be interesting to see whether they assign Rodgers-Cromartie to Bills star rookie receiver Sammy Watkins and how he does against him if they do. Rodgers-Cromartie seems extremely cool and confident this summer, and the Giants believe they can put him on the opposing team's top receiver every game and expect him to shut the guy down.
3. The offensive line: No issue is more important to the possibility of a Giants 2014 rebound than the ability of the line to protect Manning. This will be the first time all summer that anyone will be allowed to hit Manning if he gets near him, and the Giants' rebuilt line must show it can keep Manning upright if it's to earn the trust last year's line never did. J.D. Walton is likely to start at center, with Geoff Schwartz at left guard and Brandon Mosley at right guard. Expect Charles Brown to start at left tackle in place of Will Beatty, who's working his way back from a serious leg injury and missed some practices last week with an illness. And second-year man Justin Pugh is back (and bigger) at right tackle. How the line comes together is a big story of this preseason, but when there's an opposing team on the field, it's vital that it keeps the quarterback clean.