New York Giants: Why Preseason Game vs. Chicago Bears Should Matter to Fans
The results of NFL preseason games are relatively meaningless. Perhaps the greatest victory that any team can incur in the preseason would be the continued health of its star players. However, for the New York Giants, there are still several storylines that fans should care about as the team prepares for the Chicago Bears on Friday night.
The Giants have several players on the roster that must prove themselves as the team begins to set its sights on Week 1. Although the depth chart is starting to work itself out at the skill positions, several offensive and defensive linemen are partaking in ongoing positional battles.
Furthermore, for the starters, Friday night's home matchup against the Chicago Bears will be their final chance to showcase their ability.
Let's take a look at four reasons why your eyes should be glued to the television for Big Blue's third preseason game at home against the revamped Bears.
Last Game Before Roster Cuts
New York Giants running back Joe Martinek.
Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE
Although the new Collective Bargaining Agreement allows for teams to expand their training camp rosters to 90 players, the final roster limit remains at 53.
While this provision bestows more opportunities upon undrafted free agents and other veterans on the fringe of making an NFL team, coaches and general managers are given the burden of trimming the excess fat. The deadline to cut the roster down to 80 players is after the third week of the preseason.
The Giants are still carrying 90 players. So for 10 NFL hopefuls, this will be their final game in blue.
Let's take a look at three guys who need to play well to make it out of the preseason on the Giants roster.
Joe Martinek (RB)
The local product out of Rutgers University sent the Meadowlands crowd into a frenzy as he scored an acrobatic touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Giants victory over the New York Jets in Week 2 of the preseason. However, Joe Martinek is still a long shot to make the final roster.
As the depth chart currently stands, there are five running backs ahead of Martinek. With that, all five were either recently drafted by Big Blue, or have established themselves as capable NFL halfbacks. Furthermore, Martinek does not have a specific attribute that makes him stand out over his competitors.
Barring a breakout performance in the latter stages of Friday night's game, look for the Giants to cut ties with Joe Martinek.
Dwayne Hendricks (DT)
Dwayne Hendricks entered training camp competing for a spot at one of the deepest positions on the Giants roster. However, with Shaun Rogers out for the season, and the questionable health of both Marvin Austin and Chris Canty, there is suddenly a need for talent at defensive tackle.
After Dwayne Hendricks' breakout performance in the first week of the preseason, the Giants have a decision to make regarding his status. He has flashed enough ability to be a productive NFL player, but he has not done so with consistency.
Big Blue must decide whether to put him on the practice squad and risk losing him to another team, or put him on the final roster and hope he plays to his full potential. The Giants upcoming preseason game will go a long way in making this decision.
JoJo Nicolas (S)
With the departure of Deon Grant and the suspension of Tyler Sash, the Giants are currently looking for one, maybe two safeties to fill out the depth chart.
Returning starters Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle are locks. Furthermore, Will Hill looks like he has all but wrapped up the third safety spot. However, if the team decides to carry four safeties, JoJo Nicolas has a chance to make the roster.
The undrafted free agent out of Miami has often been criticized for his lack of physicality, but he has shown a propensity for making plays on the ball as training camp has progressed. While Nicolas still remains a long shot, a solid performance on Friday could bring about a tough decision for head coach Tom Coughlin.
Offensive Line Performance
New York Giants left tackle Sean Locklear.
Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE
The Giants offensive line play has been questionable throughout the preseason. In fact, it may be appropriate to call it downright awful.
Last season, Big Blue ranked last in the league in rushing, averaging just over 89 yards per game. While the idea is that the offensive line should improve after a season of playing together, there have been no signs that anything has changed so far.
Against the Jets, Big Blue could only muster up an average of 1.8 yards per carry on the ground. The starters looked incapable of opening up holes for the backs to run through, and the backups looked completely incapable of protecting the quarterback.
On Friday, against the Bears' ferocious front seven, the Giants offensive line will have perhaps their biggest test so far. It should be interesting to see how this group responds to the challenge.
Will Ramses Barden Come to Play?
New York Giants Wide Receiver Ramses Barden
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The New York Giants have given Ramses Barden every opportunity to succeed in his four years in the league. After trading up to draft him in the third round of the 2009 draft, the Cal Poly product has never fulfilled the potential that scouts saw in him. The 6'6", 224-pound wideout has not shown the speed or durability to be productive.
Although Barden himself said that this year could be his final chance to prove himself, he might not even make it out of the preseason on the Giants roster.
With Isaiah Stanback flashing some serious potential not just on offense, but on special teams as well, Barden is in serious jeopardy of losing his roster spot. Furthermore, younger, less injury-prone players such as Dan DePalma and David Douglas have showcased themselves as capable options on the back end of the depth chart.
The allure of Barden's potential is beginning to wear off. With Hakeem Nicks out with a foot injury, Barden was given every opportunity to produce, yet he has remained ineffective. His performance on Friday night may decide whether he gets one more year to become a significant factor within the Giants offense.
The Starters Will Play into the 3rd Quarter
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
For the casual NFL fan, the preseason can be a meaningless experience that does not merit his attention. Not only do the games not count, but teams often rest their star players for the majority of the contests.
However, the third preseason game is a little different. After having two opportunities to get used to NFL action, most, if not all, teams are going to allow their starters to play well into the third quarter. For the Giants, that means Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and company will be on the field in action for a significant period of time.
Obviously, the final result of this game will not in any way affect Big Blue's title defense. However, this contest will be a great barometer for measuring where the Giants' starters stand as the team prepares for their Week 1 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.