NFL Nation: Giants-Panthers preseason09
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
When faced with injuries in the past, Carolina coach John Fox usually tells his team that a rescue isn't coming from the outside.
The Panthers better hope their coach takes a different route this time around. The thing that was most obvious in Carolina's preseason debut on Monday Night Football against the Giants was that there's a gaping hole in the middle of the defensive line. We've known that since starting tackle Maake Kemoeatu went down with a season-ending injury on the first day of training camp.
Second-year pro Nick Hayden got the start in Kemoeatu's place Monday night. Let's face it, Hayden's a player the Panthers think can be a nice backup, but he's not the answer as a starter right now. The Giants ran right over the Panthers and they didn't even game plan for this one. Imagine what they would have done if this were the regular season and they wanted to exploit Carolina's problem?
Hayden's not a run stuffer and neither is fellow starter Damione Lewis. There aren't any other viable options on the roster, although the Panthers do believe rookie Corvey Irvin can develop into a decent player in a year or two.
If nothing else, Monday night provided final evidence that the Panthers need to go out and get a big body to put next to Lewis. They're not going to find a superstar this time of year, but Kemoeatu didn't fit that profile. He was just a very ordinary tackle who could take up a lot of space at 350 pounds.
The Panthers still can come out of this as good or better than they were before the Kemoeatu injury. They just need to go out and find somebody to rescue them.
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