The all-important third preseason game is upon us –- the MetLife Bowl between the Giants and Jets.
But forget about bragging rights. (It’s the preseason, after all; who brags about a preseason win?) This is pretty much about the last real rehearsal for the starters, guys trying to win jobs and other players just trying to either keep or win a roster spot.
Here’s what to watch for:
First half: Eli Manning and the majority of the starters will play a half. Tom Coughlin said some starters could go a little bit into the third quarter if need be. The coach is hoping to play his starters about 30 snaps in the game. This will likely be the last significant playing time Hakeem Nicks will see with Manning since Coughlin likely will play his starters very little if at all in the preseason finale.
Welcome back: Terrell Thomas will play in his first football game since tearing his ACL in a preseason game against the Bears on Aug. 22, 2011. It was during that game when Thomas accidentally got leg-whipped by Jason Pierre-Paul and tore his right ACL for the second time in his career. He vigorously rehabbed only to reinjure his ACL and require a third surgery last summer in camp. Thomas is expected to see some snaps as an extra defensive back behind Prince Amukamara and Aaron Ross. Corey Webster likely will not play due to injury.
Pugh Pugh platter: The Giants will unveil a new offensive line after losing David Baas (MCL) and David Diehl (thumb) to injuries for the next several weeks. First-round pick Justin Pugh will get his first start at right tackle in place of Diehl. Jim Cordle will start at center for Baas. If this line does well, the Giants will likely start this five against Dallas in the opener on Sept. 8.
Danny in the middle: Dan Connor is expected to start at middle linebacker again and could see a significant amount of snaps with the first team. He has been battling Mark Herzlich for the starting job, and a strong showing against the Jets could give Connor a big edge. Spencer Paysinger impressed this week in practice with two interceptions and remains steady at outside linebacker. Keith Rivers mans the other outside linebacker position, and Jacquian Williams should see a fair amount of snaps on passing downs as well.
Opportunity knocks: Victor Cruz once practically became a household name off a preseason game against the Jets a few years ago. So who will be able to take advantage of the latest opportunity to star? With Cruz out with a bruised heel, the Giants will take a look at some other receivers in the slot. Also, the battle at defensive tackle has been fierce in camp. After starters Cullen Jenkins and Linval Joseph, Shaun Rogers, Johnathan Hankins, Marvin Austin and Mike Patterson have been going to work. The battle continues on Saturday and the Giants may have to find a way to keep five defensive tackles or more.