A look at whose stock is rising and falling for the New York Giants during the third week of the NFL preseason.
Justin Pugh, OL. The knee injury suffered Sunday night by starting center David Baas led to a reshuffling of the offensive line. For practice Tuesday, Kevin Boothe moved from left guard to center, David Diehl moved from right tackle to left guard and Pugh, the Giants' first-round draft pick this past April, was installed as the starting right tackle. Baas said he believes he can be back in time for the regular-season opener Sept. 8, so the moves may be temporary. But it looks as though Pugh will get a chance to start at right tackle in at least Saturday's preseason game against the Jets. If he impresses, then it's possible he could keep Diehl's job even once Baas returns and Boothe goes back to guard.
Andre Brown, RB. Sure, David Wilson is the 2012 first-rounder and the darling of this summer's fantasy drafts. But the Giants still list Wilson and Brown as co-starters at running back, and Brown was in the game for 18 offensive snaps Sunday night to Wilson's 21. More telling than that, Brown replaced Wilson as the halfback on every third down during the portion of the game the starters played, which indicates that the coaches trust him more right now in pass protection. (Brown also was in on goal-line situations, as he was last year when he was vulturing touchdowns from Ahmad Bradshaw.) Neither Wilson nor Brown was called upon much in pass protection Sunday, though Brown did have one play on which he picked up a blitzing safety. But the playing-time pattern portends a time share, and Brown continues to play well enough to demand to be a part of it.
Justin Tuck, DE. Yes, a hamstring injury forced him out of Sunday's game, but he was back on the practice field Tuesday, so it's safe to assume it wasn't major. Early in the game, Tuck looked fast, fearsome and energized, and if he's those things, the Giants have reason to be optimistic about a rebound for their pass rush after a disappointing 33-sack season.
Mark Herzlich, LB. It seems as though the Giants would love for Herzlich to take a big step forward and claim the middle linebacker job, but it also seems he has not been able to do so. Dan Connor has been working with the first team this week and appears to be the leader in this competition. Teammates rave about Herzlich's knowledge of the defense, but he hasn't made enough plays.
Aaron Ross, CB. The play on which he lost the ball in the lights and turned an easy interception into a miracle Reggie Wayne touchdown was embarrassing, as Ross admits, but he was picked on all night and really struggled in coverage. Ross surprised with his performance as a starter when pressed into duty in 2011 after Terrell Thomas' injury, but it looks now as though he's more useful in specific packages, as opposed to as a replacement starter with Corey Webster hurt.
David Diehl, OL. Yes, he had a bad game Sunday in pass protection. And yes, as we mentioned earlier, he could be in the process of losing his starting job to a rookie. But I don't think Diehl's stock is falling in the eyes of the Giants' coaches. They view him as versatile and reliable and willing to play wherever they need him to play. And the Giants are an organization that likes to reward those things with continued faith. Fickle fans may be sick of Diehl, but the Giants haven't soured on him. Pugh may not be able to handle starting tackle responsibilities just yet, and if he can't, the coaches will be very happy to know their old warhorse can step back in.