What to watch for vs. Bears

Posted Aug 23, 2012

If you thought preseason was meaningless, think again. Here are five things to look for when the Giants take on the Bears on Friday, Aug. 24 at 8:00 pm (EDT):

1) First teams. This is the third preseason game. This is the dress rehearsal. This is the last chance to see starters in action before the regular season kicks off in less than two weeks. With a few exceptions of players who will return from injuries, Friday is what the 2012 New York Giants will look like as they set out to defend their title.

“You’ve got to go through them,” cornerback Corey Webster said on Wednesday of the four preseason games. “It’s how you evaluate a team. It’s how you get your team better. It’s how you critique your craft going into the regular season. So we need these games to get all the bugs out so we can get to the top when the season starts.”

2) Pass rush. Saying that it’s a given each season understates the effort put into one of the major strengths of the team. With a banged up interior, the defensive linemen did more than maintain last week with seven sacks against the Jets. However, the regular season will be a different beast and any shortcomings tend to be exposed during the course of 16 games. And in a game played without Jason Pierre-Paul, coaches will be evaluating the depth.  

3) Rushing attack. The Giants running game has gained 126 yards at 4.8 yards per attempt one week, 58 yards with a 1.8-yard average the other. The true identity of the run game won’t come into focus until the regular season, but it’s still on everyone’s mind. From Sean Locklear playing left tackle to rookie David Wilson in the backfield, there will be plenty to take note of at MetLife Stadium on Friday. 

4) Special teams. Four field goals, a partially blocked punt, and a 5.3-yard average on punt returns. There was plenty of good and bad last week. Kicker Lawrence Tynes is highly motivated this season, and it’s shown so far this preseason after getting off to a slow start in 2011. In addition to making all five of his field goal attempts in the preseason, Tynes booted all seven of his kickoffs into the end zone against the Jets, four of which were touchbacks. Meanwhile, the punt team has to find someone to replace Tyler Sash, the “fullback” who was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the season. And last but not least, the Giants have a group of return men who are on the verge of breaking one at any moment.    

5) Fringe players. Rosters are cut down to 75 players on Monday and finalized to 53 next Friday. Time is running out for players to prove their worth. This includes rookie free agents and veterans who have yet to solidify a role. It’s never an easy time for the front office, coaches and players, but the season waits for no one.