On Saturday night, the Giants will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers (7:30 PM ET, 4NY). Winning is secondary in the preseason. What you want is for the team to stay healthy; you want to see some players emerge while solidifying the final roster. Then you want to get out of there and be ready for the regular season.
So, here are five storylines to watch as the Giants kick off their preseason schedule.
1. How will the Giants delegate the carries between David Wilson and Andre Brown?
While Wilson and Brown are technically listed as co-starters, it is Wilson who the fans want to see.
We want to see what our 2012 first-round draft pick is made of. His breakaway speed and athleticism should be put to good use and how he fares in Pittsburgh could be a telling sign of things to come.
As for Brown, well he has proven to be a steady, dependable north-south runner who will get you those tough extra yards. His role as short-yardage, goal-line back is pretty much cemented with the club.
2. How the O-line looks
This is an aging group and how they perform this year is of paramount importance to the Giants playoff hopes this year.
Some players are breaking down and some have nagging injuries to contend with. Brandon Mosley is expected to start in this game at RG and how he fares should be an interesting thing to watch. Selvish Capers should also get some time at guard and his development is worth monitoring.
It’s too bad that first-round pick Justin Pugh is suffering the effects of a concussion and he might sit this one out as a precaution. It would have been nice to see what the young talent is made of. Hopefully, he can get back on the field for next week’s exhibition vs. the Colts.
3. Will Justin Tuck play, what can we expect?
Tuck has sat out the last few practices with tightness in his back, but it does not seem serious, but Tom Coughlin is upset that Tuck is being hampered by it.
“I don’t know. Today was not what we wanted. He’s not quite as nifty and nimble as we had hoped. We’ll have to see. I actually thought he would work today.”
There is also word coming out that Tuck may be used as a linebacker.
While that is hard to digest, it should be interesting how Tuck looks in game action—if in fact he does play. His health and production will go a long way towards any success the Giants may have this season.
If he does not play, Cullen Jenkins will get a long look at defensive end, while Shaun Rogers will be plugged in at RT.
4. Who will shine as backup QB: Ryan Nassib or David Carr?
While we have grown accustomed to Eli Manning (who never misses a game) being an iron man, a reliable back-up quarterback is still essential.
When Manning comes off the field, it should be interesting to see how Nassib and Carr (who is expected to get the immediate call to replace Manning) do in his stead.
How Nassib and Carr do in the preseason will be a battle to watch. Obviously, Nassib is eventually being groomed to be Manning’s successor at some point, but is he ready yet? If Nassib shines in the preseason, will the Giants go with only him as the backup quarterback or will they have him on the roster along with Carr?
The Giants may want to shy away from carrying three quarterbacks given Manning’s durability. Could this be the end of the road for Carr?
5. Can anyone step up in the secondary?
If the Giants have any aspirations of going anywhere this year, then they are going to have to get improved play from their secondary.
The play of the secondary will be under scrutiny—as it should—this preseason, as it was a complete mess last year. I already addressed how this season is a critical season for Corey Webster. Terrell Thomas is still not there yet and will miss Saturday’s game, as will rookie Cooper Taylor, who is nursing a hamstring injury.
It should be interesting to see how guys like Prince Amukamara, Aaron Ross and Ryan Mundy (returning to Pittsburgh) look and feed off each other. They all have to have solid summers if they are to restore any faith in fans.
Dan Stack | Featured Columnist