New York Giants Face New York Jets in Preseason Week 2: What to Watch for

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 17, 2012

May 23, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;  New York Giants tackle Sean Locklear (75) during the Giants OTA at the their training facility. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

The New York Giants had quite a few questions headed into their preseason opener in Jacksonville, and they didn't exactly get a lot of answers. But that's OK. That's why the preseason is four weeks long. 

That said, they start the regular season in less than three weeks, so I'm thinking they'd like to begin making some significant discoveries regarding the roster Saturday night against the Jets

Here's what I'll be watching for.


Prince tries to bounce back

Prince Amukamara's performance against the Jaguars last Friday was pretty close to unacceptable. He was only beat twice on 14 snaps, but that was against Blaine Gabbert and one of the league's worst offenses. The Jets present a bit more of a challenge, so Amukamara will have to show that he's made adjustments over the last week. 

The 2011 first-round pick reportedly responded with a good practice early this week, which isn't too surprising because he's performed well in practices all month. Can it translate to a game? We'll find out Saturday night.


Return man auditions continue

Jayron Hosley, Jerrel Jernigan and David Wilson all looked good on returns last week, but Hosley and Jernigan each muffed punts, which Tom Coughlin won't tolerate. 

Domenik Hixon could be a factor Saturday too. Hixon is a veteran whom Coughlin knows he can probably rely on, but he's also coming off of two consecutive torn ACLs. 

The Giants ranked 20th on kick returns and 29th on punt returns last season. They were one of only three teams that failed to have a single return of 20 yards or more. Thus, this is an area that needs to improve.


As does the audition for the No. 3 receiver job

Hixon missed the preseason opener, but he'll likely start in place of Hakeem Nicks. Still in contention: Jernigan, Rueben Randle, Ramses Barden and David Douglas. 

This audition is especially important because we'll get to see a lot of these guys on the outside and inside, which is important for a No. 3 receiver. Whoever wins this job will have to be able to play the slot, but in three-receiver sets with Victor Cruz in the game, they'll be asked to line up on the outside.


Mark Herzlich looks to keep gaining steam

Herzlich looks better every time he takes the field, which has me thinking that he'll eventually supplant veteran starter Chase Blackburn at middle linebacker. He outplayed Blackburn against the Jaguars, but he also faced second-teamers. 

I'm hoping the Giants give the second-year linebacker a chance to play some early snaps so that he can prove that he's ready to start from the get-go in 2012.


Sean Locklear gets another chance

Left tackle Will Beatty has missed pretty much all of camp due to an achy back, which has me concerned about Beatty's future. Not only has he yet to prove himself when he's actually on the field, but he's had too much trouble actually getting on the field

The 31-year-old Locklear has 82 career starts under his belt, including four last year with the Redskins. He did not perform well. But only two years ago in Seattle, Locklear was rated by Pro Football Focus as the third-best pass-blocking tackle in football.

If he can revive his career, it could change the entire outlook for Big Blue.


I'll leave you with three in-flux players to keep a close eye on: Adrian Tracy, Will Hill and Martellus Bennett, all of whom have looked very good.

Check back early Sunday for a complete review of New York's second preseason performance.