Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants face the Jets Saturday
1. Giants-Jets compete for Snoopy Trophy in MetLife Bowl.
The fifth MetLife Bowl will break a 2-2 tie between the Giants and Jets in their annual preseason meeting, which Big Blue won last season, 35-24. Meanwhile, Saturday night at MetLife Stadium marks the 47th consecutive preseason that the Giants and Jets have met since the series began in 1969.
2. Starters to play first half.
Known as THE dress rehearsal, the third preseason game is when starters usually last the longest in preparation for Week 1 of the regular season. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said his starters will play mostly the first half depending on certain circumstances.
"The third game, obviously, is an important game, just like any of them are," Coughlin said. "But as far as advancing our people, we'll play a half. There may be some that extend and there may be some that won't not play a full half, but by and large, we'll plan on playing a half and a half."
3. Who's in? Who's out?
Veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin) and rookie safety Landon Collins (knee) are expected to play on Saturday night. However, wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf) will not, Coughlin said Thursday as the Giants broke their 2015 training camp. Center Weston Richburg (knee), safety Nat Berhe (calf) and linebacker Mark Herzlich (concussion) are also on the injury report.
4. Rex out, Todd in.
Playmakers on Jets first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike
This will be the first MetLife Bowl without former Jets coach Rex Ryan, who took over the Bills this season. While the Giants will see him in Buffalo in Week 4, they will face Todd Bowles, who was previously the Cardinals' defensive coordinator, for the first time with the Jets.
"Well, [Rex] brought a little entertainment, so… You know, it seems a little quieter this week in our preparation," quarterback Eli Manning said. "Not as much chit-chat on both sides, probably, but I think he was probably generating a lot of that."
"You know what, we've got our own issues," Coughlin said. "I don't pay much attention to what is going on in other places."
5. Odell's first trip to Revis Island.
Reigning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Odell Beckham Jr. will try for the first reception of his preseason career this week when he goes up against a Jets secondary that includes Darrelle Revis. The All-Pro cornerback is back with the team that originally drafted him after playing 2013 in Tampa Bay and winning the Super Bowl in New England last season. The two will meet again when it counts in Week 13.
"Having to go against him, why would you not want to go against the best in the league," Beckham said, echoing similar statements he made when preparing to face Richard Sherman and the Seahawks last year. "The Patrick Peterson's, the Sherman's, Revis, the Joe Haden's, that's what you come here to do is to put yourself in the best position possible to go against the best and he's clearly one of the best. It should be a tough challenge but I'm looking forward to just being able to go out there and competing."
6. Flowers and Pugh hold down the left side.
Left guard Justin Pugh has long-term goals for the offensive line which include playing alongside rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers for years to come. The two former first-round draft picks continue to build chemistry on the left side, where running backs Andre Williams and Shane Vereen were able to break long runs in last week's preseason game.
7. Pressure from Pepper.
As Ryan went from the Jets to Bills, defensive line coach Pepper Johnson did the opposite. The former 13-year NFL veteran, who played for the Giants from 1986-1992 and won two Super Bowls with the franchise, likes to do what the Jets did for years with Ryan and bring the pressure. Now it will be under Bowles.
"They do a good job of mixing up their coverages— showing pressure and backing out or disguising coverage and bringing some blitzes," Manning said. "So we'll have to be on our game, from my standpoint, from the offensive line, running backs, receivers, everybody understanding what their responsibilities are. It's a good scheme that their coaches brought in from Arizona, and they have good players, good corners, and so it'll be a good test for us. Looking forward to it."
8. Meriweather and Miles man thin safety group.
While Collins is expected to return, the Giants' safety depth has taken hit after hit due to injuries. That led to late signings of veterans Brandon Meriweather and Jeromy Miles, who have mostly practiced as the top tandem.
"A guy like Meriweather, he's a for sure, true vet, so he definitely takes ownership of the defense," Amukamara said. "So does Miles, and Collins does, too, when he's in there. So I haven't played in a game with them yet, so we'll just see how we all play together. That's what I like about preseason, because you get to build that chemistry and that communication."
*9. Sense of urgency. *
On 37 snaps, the first-team offense with Manning under center has managed just 104 yards and three points this preseason. Coming out of the second game, Coughlin said he wanted more urgency, which he did see "a little bit more and would like to continue to see more."
The Giants open the regular season on the road Sept. 13 against the Cowboys.
10. Osi's legacy lives on.
The Quest Diagnostics Training Center buzzed this week with the retirement ceremony of defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who won two Super Bowls with the Giants and ranks fourth on the franchise's all-time sacks list.
"For me, it was either I was going to play for the Giants, or I wasn't going to play football at all," said Umenyiora, who had three sacks in three career games against the Jets. "Once that became clear, where obviously the Giants have some young players who they need to develop who would play the same position that I would be playing. And if I was there, I would do nothing but stunt their growth. Once that became aware and I understood that, I said to myself, 'Why don't I retire? I'm not going to be a journeyman defensive end, I don't deserve that.' I made the decision to do that, and thankfully the Giants were gracious enough to let me do this."