Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Observations from Giants' preseason opener
By Dan Graziano
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
I've seen the Giants practicing against each other in person. I was eager to see how they would look against another team -- and a pretty good one at that. Are you ready for some "Monday Night Football" preseason observations? I thought so.
- I was watching defensive end Osi Umenyiora pretty closely on the Giants' first defensive series against Carolina. No matter what he says, I'm sure it will be a relief to have this first game under his belt after coming back from the knee injury. On third down, the Giants tried a stunt, but Umenyiora got stoned on the inside. The Panthers had the deep ball open, but Jake Delhomme threw an awful pass. One other thing that caught my attention early in the game: Safety Michael Johnson looked fast on a blitz that led a Delhomme incompletion.
- Tom Coughlin had to be thrilled to see Marion Manningham go 21 yards on that first punt return. He reversed field and the Panthers broke outside containment. Manningham has had a solid camp and that play certainly won't hurt his chances of making the team. Manningham followed that up with a nifty 13-yard catch on a route that required great timing between him and Eli Manning. Unfortunately, the play was wiped out on an illegal motion penalty.
- Umenyiora doesn't look like he's lost a step at all. Early in the game he beat Jordan Gross on a speed rush and knocked the ball out of Jake Delhomme's hand. In other news, Terrell Thomas is going to have to do a better job against the run. He had a shot at DeAngelo Williams in the backfield early in the game and let him get away. Defensive tackle Jay Alford also got off to a quick start. He's the one who made Umenyiora's play on Delhomme possible. The Panthers' offensive line couldn't give Delhomme anything resembling a clean pocket.
- On Brandon Jacobs' 22-yard rumble in the first quarter, left tackle David Diehl had an excellent kickout block. Also some good blocking downfield by starting wide receiver Domenik Hixon. Jacobs looks faster to me than at any point in his career. The quick screen to Hixon on the second drive was a thing of beauty. Panthers played right into the Giants' hands with the blitz.
- Ahmad Bradshaw followed an excellent block by Tutan Reyes on his 19-yard touchdown run. Bradshaw made the Panthers' first-team defense look helpless when he froze a linebacker with one move before running over a safety. Not much wrong with that scoring drive at all. I think Bradshaw's up to the challenge of holding off Danny Ware for the backup running back spot. He's elusive and he has more power than we give him credit for.
- Not sure Tom Coughlin wants David Carr going airborne to get a first down in the second quarter of the first preseason game. But Jon Gruden loved the play. Carr looks pretty comfortable running the offense.
- Not a good sign that Lawrence Tynes misses a 43-yard field goal, but he did have plenty of distance and just missed it to the right. I think Coughlin has a close eye on Tynes after watching him miss most of the '08 season with an injury.
- Tom Coughlin has to be frustrated with the blocked punt before halftime. How in the world did the Giants let a guy come free from the left side. Bryan Kehl picked up the player next to him. Heads up play by Jeff Feagles to knock that ball out of the back of the end zone.
- I've been telling you guys about Giants seventh-round pick Stoney Woodson. The young cornerback out of South Carolina has had an excellent camp. And nice job by Anthony Bryant to get his hands up there to deflect the pass. Josh McCown likes to bring the ball down and throw from a three-quarters angle. Bryant and Woodson made him play.
- Big play by rookie Maurice Evans out of Penn State toward the end of the first half to cause the fumble. And cornerback DeAndre Wright did a nice job of scooping up the fumble. That's something safeties coach Dave Merritt has been preaching, and Wright did a really nice job of securing the loose ball.
- Great blocking downfield by David Tyree and Mario Manningham on the 36-yard touchdown pass to Danny Ware. Carr's doing an excellent job of running this offense. I don't think you can keep Ware off the field. The Giants have three different backs, and all of them can take it to the house.
- I know it's just the preseason, but the Giants look light years ahead of the Panthers right now. I think the Giants are going to have some really tough decisions to make at receiver and cornerback. They just have a lot of depth at several positions. By the way, what is about former Texas A&M running backs that prevents them from securing the football. And what a ridiculous throat-slashing gesture after a really nice touchdown run in the third quarter.
- Like most of you, I kept waiting to see rookie wide receiver Ramses Barden on the field. Finally saw him early in the second half, but quarterback Andre Woodson tried to force one to him back across the field. Quinton Teal made the easy pick.
- Special thanks to Tommie Hill for rescuing all of us from preseason overtime. Hill returned a fumble 18 yards for a touchdown on the final play of regulation. He's a rookie defensive end out of Colorado State. Defensive tackle Leger Douzable caused the fumble. Coughlin has to be proud of the way his young defensive linemen played.
- I'm sure Coughlin will find some things to complain about, but all in all, a pretty solid performance the first and second-teamers for the Giants.
- The Giants had 12 different players catch a pass. Rookie Hakeem Nicks had one catch for nine yards and Barden had one for 20 yards. Nicks didn't do a good job of timing his jump on a deep ball from Woodson in the second half. Looks like he's still trying to play catch-up after missing part of camp with a hamstring injury. Really nice game for Giants cornerback Bruce Johnson.
- There's Barden! That's a 20-yard catch on third-and-17 from Andre Woodson. That was a wobbler from Woodson and Barden did a nice job of plucking the ball away from his body. This guy looks like such a refined player already.