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Giants vs. Patriots: 10 things to watch for


Here are 10 storylines to follow as the Giants conclude the preseason against the Patriots Thursday night:


>WR Rudolph has been story of preseason
>Running Backs look to break out
>Player's perspective of roster cutdown day
>View latest Giants photo galleries
>Coach McAdoo previews NYG-NE

The four-time Super Bowl champion Giants will travel to face the newly crowned five-time Super Bowl champion Patriots in their preseason finale on Thursday, Aug. 31 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC 4 New York). For the 13th consecutive year, the two teams wrap up the preseason against each other. The Giants won last year's game, 17-9, at MetLife Stadium. But, of course, they share a little more history than just those preseason meetings.


Clubs must reduce their active rosters to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, meaning Thursday night is the final opportunity for bubble players to make their cases. Because of a new rule this year, teams will go straight from 90 to 53 players. In the past, they first went to 75 and then 53. Coach Ben McAdoo is a fan of the change because "it gives the players who are out there doing a lot of working, getting a lot of work, gives them an opportunity to show well for your team and for other teams in the league."


Cornerback Eli Apple (ankle), defensive tackle Jay Bromley (sprained knee), running back Shaun Draughn (concussion, neck), and rookie defensive end Evan Schwan (foot) suffered injuries in last week's preseason game against the Jets. The Giants eventually waived/injured Schwan.

Meanwhile, wide receivers Odell Beckham, Jr. (ankle), Brandon Marshall (shoulder), Dwayne Harris (upper body), and Tavarres King (ankle) were among those who did not dress last week, along with cornerback Michael Hunter Jr. (concussion) and linebackers Mark Herzlich (stinger) and Keenan Robinson (concussion).

Keep an eye on these six players in the Giants' preseason finale Thursday


The Giants are sticking to their plan from last preseason with regard to playing time. For reference, the following players did not strap up for the fourth and final preseason game: quarterback Eli Manning, Beckham, center Weston Richburg, cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, and defensive tackle Damon Harrison.


One of the main storylines coming out of the all-important third preseason game was the mixing and matching on the offensive line. Brett Jones, who backs up Richburg at center, replaced right guard John Jerry for a few drives with the first team. D.J. Fluker also spent some time there, and undrafted rookie Chad Wheeler took a few first-team snaps at left tackle. On Monday, however, the Giants returned to the normal lineup in practice.


Last week, cornerback Donte Deayon was part of an effort that included the Giants defense alone outscoring the Jets 16-3 in the first half. He and All-Pro safety Landon Collins returned interceptions for touchdowns to go along with a safety by Pierre-Paul. But with the starters not expected to play much, if at all in some cases, it could be Deayon's time to shine in the push for a roster spot.


The Giants have a heck of a kicking competition going on in the preseason. Veteran Mike Nugent, who was brought in at the beginning of the month, is 5-for-5, including successful attempts from 54 and 50 yards last week against the Jets. Aldrick Rosas, meanwhile, is 4-for-4 with a long of 52 yards.


The Giants have waived third-year defensive end Owa Odighizuwa after the former third-round pick was suspended by the NFL without pay for the first four games of the 2017 regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances. "It is unfortunate that things have gone in this direction," said general manager Jerry Reese, "but we wish nothing but the best for Owa as we all move forward."


At some point in the near future, the Giants will vote on captains. Last year, Manning, linebacker Jonathan Casillas, and long snapper Zak DeOssie were season-long captains while three more served as game captains on a week-to-week basis. There are likely going to be some close votes on defense with all of the talent and leadership on that side of the ball. "On the defense alone, there's like four, five, six guys that come to the top of my head," Casillas said. "I can't really be mad if it doesn't happen that way because I know my role, and I think I play my role very well."


After Thursday night, the Giants have 10 days until the season opener on the road against the reigning NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys, whom Big Blue swept in the 2016 season series. The preparation is already underway.

"We've been thinking about them for a long time," Casillas said. "We've been working. Everything's been building for September 10. Whatever we've been doing come April, we've been building for September 10. All the preseason games were important, of course, but we're all building for September 10. So we've not just started with Dallas this week. We've been talking about Dallas – what they're doing and how we think they're going to attack us. We have been thinking about them a lot."

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