Giants vs. Patriots: 8 things to watch for

Posted Aug 28, 2014

Here are eight things to look out for as the Giants face the Patriots on Thursday

1. The final tune-up.

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The first-team offense took a step forward the last time it was on the field, piecing together a two-minute scoring drive heading into halftime against the Jets before the bulk of  starters were replaced. Let’s see if the Giants’ burgeoning offense can pick up where it left off to start Thursday’s finale against the Patriots because after that, it’s time for the real thing. The Giants open the regular season 11 days later. Meanwhile, the final tune-up isn’t just for the offense. “For everybody,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “Everything you do is about being productive. It is about improvement. That is what these games are for. That is significant in this game as well.”

2. Players making their closing arguments.
Along with the rest of the NFL, the Giants trimmed their roster to 75 players on Tuesday before the 53-man list is announced on Saturday. Thursday’s game is the last chance for second, third, and fourth stringers to show their value on the field.


3. Wide receiver competition.  
All eyes were on the tight end competition heading into the summer, but it’s the wide receiver battle that has been the one to watch as it comes down to the wire. In addition to first-round draft choice Odell Beckham Jr. still trying to overcome a hamstring issue, the competition took another twist this week when Marcus Harris (hip), who had been having a strong camp, was placed on injured reserve. “Any of the guys that are left know that it goes from 75 to 53,” said Coughlin, who has also stated that he’s not opposed to keeping six wide receivers. “You are ending up in a numbers game and it is competitive.”

4. How long the starters last.
Starters tend to play little of the preseason finale. But it hasn’t been a typical year for the Giants, who installed a new offense this summer and played an extra preseason game because of the Hall of Fame Game. Coughlin said that the starters will play 15-18 snaps against the Patriots.

5. Does the pass rush get going again?
The Giants were able to get to the quarterback last week against the Jets, but the bulk of it came from Damontre Moore once the starters had been replaced. Even so, the defensive end still had an outstanding game with four solo tackles (three for losses), two sacks, and a fumble recovery. We’ll see if that carries over as fellow pass rushers like Jason Pierre-Paul ready for the new season. “Basically finalize my technique, get to the ball, get off the football faster, playing the run better,” Pierre-Paul said of what he wants to accomplish in the final preseason game. “All of the above.”

6. The lone kicker.
With the recent departure of Brandon McManus, veteran kicker Josh Brown has won the job for his second year with the Giants. Through the first four preseason games, Brown has made his lone field goal attempt from 45 yards in addition to all 10 of his extra points.  Brown has also booted six touchbacks on nine attempts.


7. The depth at cornerback.
While the Giants make sure Prince Amukamara (groin) is healthy for the regular season, we’ll get a good look at a secondary that is advertised as one of the deepest in the league. That includes former Chicago Bears cornerback Zack Bowman, who has picked off several passes in training camp. “I think Z-Bow, Zack Bowman, he’s one of the guys who doesn’t get a lot of attention but once a day, he’s got a pick,” defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. “That’s part of the thing I’m excited about. We’ll do our job up front and then we’ll have fun watching them work back there.”

8. A familiar foe.
This is the 10th consecutive year the Giants and Patriots have ended the preseason against one another. It is the 24th overall preseason meeting with the Giants leading the series, 14-9. Meanwhile, the Giants (4-0) have a chance to end the preseason undefeated for the first time since 2006.