Players can hit sleds, dummies, and each other all they want in training camp, but all of that is meaningless until they do it live during a game with a real opponent. That's what Friday night in Jacksonville is all about as starters knock off the rust, rookies get up to speed, and players simply try to make an impression.
If you thought preseason was meaningless, think again. Here are five reasons to watch the Giants take on the Jaguars on Friday, Aug. 10 at 7:30 pm (EDT):
1) How do the starters look? The vast majority of the Super Bowl XLVI starting roster returns for the title defense. You'll see some different numbers and faces on Friday night (some due to injury like WR Hakeem Nicks, who expects to return for the regular season), but it's mostly the same personnel-wise. Yes, it's preseason, but let's see if there are glimpses of the team that is currently on a six-game win streak.
2) Reps. Coach Tom Coughlin said after the final practice that starters will play 15 to 18 plays, second team about 20-25, and the thirds will play anywhere from the end of the third quarter on or maybe the start of the fourth. Let's see who gets how many reps and in what packages and situations.
3) Draft picks. The clock is officially ticking on their careers. Labels are formed quickly in the NFL, and this will be the first chance coaches have to see their investments in live hitting. Time to get to know RB David Wilson, WR Rueben Randle, CB Jayron Hosley, TE Adrien Robinson, OT Brandon Mosley, OT Matt McCants, and DT Markus Kuhn.
4) Breakout candidates. While it's hard to imagine for Giants fans, there was a time you didn't know the name Victor Cruz. The same goes for a slate of players on the roster waiting to seize an opportunity, such as training camp's leading highlight generator WR David Douglas. It's not limited to just the offense, either. On the defense, players like safety Will Hill hope to transfer success in practice to game day.
5) Question marks beginning to get answered. Perhaps the leading storyline in terms of position this offseason is the linebacker breakdown. The unofficial depth chart released this week has Mathias Kiwanuka and Michael Boley on the outside with Chase Blackburn manning the middle. The chart is deep this year with guys like Keith Rivers, Mark Herzlich, and Spencer Paysinger in line. We'll see who begins to rise to the top. VIEW DEPTH CHART
WHO: New York Giants at Jacksonville Jaguars
WHAT: Preseason Week 1
WHEN: Friday, August 10, 2012 - 7:30 pm (EDT)
WHERE: EverBank Field (Playing Surface: Natural Grass)
TV: MY9 | RADIO: WCBS101.1 FM | CLICK TO WATCH LIVE ONLINE