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10 storylines to follow for Giants vs. Patriots


1. The next one counts.

> Expectations for offense vs. Pats
> Giants vs. Patriots Broadcast Info
> First round of roster cuts
> Five Players to Watch vs. Patriots
> J.T. Thomas on impressions of Giants

For the 11th consecutive year, the New York Giants and New England Patriots will end the preseason against one another when they meet on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

After that? Big Blue has just 10 days until lining up against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1 at AT&T Stadium.

2. Starters will play.

While on a pitch count, coach Tom Coughlin said his starters will play "very little" in the preseason finale.

In three preseason games, Eli Manning is 20 of 38 for 159 yards with no touchdowns and one interception that was returned for a touchdown last week against the Jets.

3. First round of roster moves. 

In advance of Tuesday's NFL deadline for teams to reduce their rosters to 75 players, the Giants made 14 roster moves. Offensive tackle Will Beatty (torn pectoral muscle) was placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. Defensive backs Josh Gordy (hip) and Bennett Jackson (knee) were placed on injured reserve. Offensive lineman Brandon Mosley and running back Akeem Hunt were waived/injured. The following were waived: OL Michael Bamiro, WR Juron Criner, DB Justin Halley, OL Eric Herman, WR Derrick Johnson, P Robert Malone, DE Jordan Stanton, DT Jimmy Staten and TE Will Tye.

*4. Roster goes to 53 on Saturday. *

Photos of the Giants 2015 official roster

Thursday night is the last opportunity for players to make an impression in live action before clubs must reduce their rosters to a maximum of 53 players by 4 p.m. on Saturday. Teams can establish a practice squad of 10 players the following day.

5. Who's playing? Who's not?

Coughlin confirmed this week that Victor Cruz will not play in New England as the wide receiver continues to deal with a calf issue. Preseason or otherwise, Cruz has not played in a game since last October when he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Meanwhile, linebacker Jon Beason (knee), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (hamstring), safety Jeromy Miles (groin), and cornerbacks Chykie Brown (knee) and Chandler Fenner (hamstring) did not practice leading up to Thursday. Rookie offensive lineman Bobby Hart, however, did return to the practice field after suffering a knee injury against the Jets.

6. Stevie is back. 

Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants face the Patriots on Thursday

Bolstering a safety group that already has three players who have suffered season-ending injuries and a fourth who underwent surgery, the Giants brought back Stevie Brown this week.

Brown, who played for Big Blue from 2012-2014 and set a franchise record in interception return yards in 2012, signed with the Houston Texans this past May but was released on Saturday.

7. Punt game still a concern.

Last week, the Jets scored on the Giants in all three phases of the game, including a 54-yard punt return. That came against a unit that has allowed four in the last two seasons while half of the NFL did not allow one.

8. Boswell in for Brown.

On Wednesday, the Giants, who had an available spot on the 75-man roster after trimming it to 74 the day before, signed kicker Chris Bowell.

One of the best long-distance kickers in the country while at Rice, Boswell will handle the kicking duties in the preseason finale at New England in place of veteran Josh Brown, who suffered a bruised leg two weeks ago when he made a tackle in the third quarter against Jacksonville.

9. The series.

Playmakers on Patriot's first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike

While playing each other in the preseason for the last quarter-century, it's always a special year when the Giants and Patriots meet in the regular season and sometimes beyond. Thursday night will be an appetizer for their meeting in Week 10 at MetLife Stadium. In the regular season, the Patriots lead the series, 5-4. But the Giants are 2-0 against the Patriots in the postseason with the victories coming in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. 

10. Deep connections.

The Giants and Patriots go back a lot further than the unforgettable 2007 season. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was on the Giants' staff for more than a decade, including time as defensive coordinator from 1985-1990 when he won two Super Bowls with the franchise.

Meanwhile, the connections keep going with assistant special teams coach Larry Izzo (three-time Super Bowl champion and a three-time Pro Bowler with the Patriots) and running back Shane Vereen and linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who both won Super Bowl XLIX with the Patriots this past February.

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