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Giants Looking For Answers Monday Night Vs. Jets

Eliblood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third preseason game is often used by NFL teams as the last real “dress rehearsal” before the regular season begins.  The Giants will take the stage for their penultimate preseason tussle on Monday night against the hometown rival Jets with many questions still unanswered.  It’s no secret that the injury bug has been biting early and often for the NYG and Monday’s game will hopefully give fans a glimpse as to how GM Jerry Reese and head coach Tom Coughlin plan to remedy those losses.  Here are the three top questions that figure to be answered in Monday night’s preseason game against the Jets at Giants (MetLife) Stadium:

1. Who will cover slot receivers and how effective will the Giants nickel package be?

The biggest question mark on the defensive side of the ball is undoubtedly the cornerback situation.  We know that when the Giants trod out their base defense Corey Webster and Aaron Ross will be the corners with Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips at safety.  This unit projects to be very solid if they can all remain healthy, but that is a long shot.  The questions will begin when team line up in three-receiver sets and the Giants are forced to bring in another defensive back.  Will the fifth DB be safety Deon Grant or newly signed cornerback Brian Williams?  If it is Grant then we could potentially see Rolle moving down from his safety spot to cover the slot receiver.  Grant was used in nickel packages last year near the line of scrimmage almost as a third linebacker and often to blitz rather than cover.  Rolle reportedly practiced at cornerback this week and seemingly possesses the athleticism to make the move to slot corner.  If Williams is the nickel back then the questions will center on how effective he can still be in this league.  The 31-year old Williams was a starter for most of his career in Minnesota and Jacksonville before being relegated to nickel corner in Atlanta for the past two years.  He must prove that he still be a reliable third cornerback until rookie Prince Amukamara returns from injury, or the NYG will have to get cute with the use of their safeties.

2. How long will the Giants starters play?

This weekend we have seen teams play their starters for anywhere from 2 series (San Francisco) to 3 and a half quarters (Seattle).  The Giants figure to be somewhere in the middle, but it remains to be see how long Coughlin will keep his main guys out there after Terrell Thomas’ injury late in the second quarter last week.  A lot will probably depend on how effective the starters are in the beginning of the game.  The running game has been a bright spot for Big Blue in the preseason thus far so if they can show midseason form early, it could be a short day for the first team offense. Quarterback Eli Manning has not been able to get in any real rhythm thus far in the preseason so he could be a candidate for extended playing time, but the veteran has the confidence of the coaching staff and shouldn’t last past halftime.  The first team defense also figures to see only about a quarter and a half of play in an attempt to limit any more devastating injuries.

3. Can the offensive line keep Eli’s face from getting busted open again?

Fans of both New York teams will surely remember their preseason clash last year where Eli’s head was gushing blood all over the field.  There was a miscommunication on a handoff with Brandon Jacobs and Eli took a nasty hit that opened up his forehead.  This year the Giants offensive line will look to keep their quarterback upright and in one piece.  The line has looked good thus far in the preseason with new pieces Will Beatty and David Baas stepping up in a big way.  The line will need to keep up their stellar run blocking and continue to improve in pass protection as they build continuity.

Bonus: Who will win the position battles?

In addition to the battle for playing time in the secondary between Grant and Williams, there are several other positions worth watching.  The NYG are not only looking for a slot corner on defense, but also a slot receiver on offense.  Victor Cruz and Domenik Hixon are reportedly neck and neck at this point and their performance in Monday’s game could go a long way in determining who the third receiver off the bench is.  The tight end spot is also up for grabs as the blocking at the position has been terrible.  Travis Beckum is the best pass catcher of the bunch, but he could end up just being brought in on passing downs with Bear Pascoe as the early down man.  Pascoe could also end up retaining his spot as the starting fullback where he is currently battling undrafted rookie Henry Hynoski out of Pittsburgh.  The return jobs should be claimed this week and Devin Thomas looks to have a leg up as the kick returner.  Third round pick Jerrel Jernigan is the primary punt returner, but has struggled thus far.  His draft status essentially assures that he will make the team, but it would be interesting to see if Thomas can be more effective on punt returns.

 

Follow Matt Canvisser (@mattcanv) on Twitter for Giants/NFL news, analysis, and links to new blog posts.  

 

 

 

 

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Comments

I love your writing, and i agree with your answers to your own questions.

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