With the regular season starting extra early for the New York Giants, there's a good chance they'll phone in the final preseason game. And as a result, Friday night's matchup with the Chicago Bears is especially important as the G-men look to find answers to any lingering questions.
Here's what we'll be watching:
Domenik Hixon vs. Rueben Randle vs. Jerrel Jernigan
The way I see it, the No. 3 wide receiver competition has come down to these three fellas. Hixon is the reliable veteran with an injury risk, Randle is the superior athlete with a lack of experience, and Jernigan is also a bit of a wild card.
They've all had their moments this summer, but no one has a big edge. A really strong performance could push any of these three into the No. 3 spot for the opener against Dallas.
Elsewhere at wide receiver, Ramses Barden is trying to hold down the last roster spot. A big performance from undrafted free agent David Douglas could spell the end for Barden, but that battle won't likely be settled until next week.
Sean Locklear gets another test
The veteran tackle continues to start in place of the injured Will Beatty on the left side. That could change, with Locklear and David Diehl swapping tackle spots, but Locklear still has a chance to continue to redeem himself after struggling in Washington this year.
A strong performance against Julius Peppers and the Bears defense could be enough to earn Locklear a Week 1 starting spot regardless of what happens with Beatty, who hasn't exactly been lights-out when healthy anyway.
Plus, Diehl is coming off of a terrible season, so the Giants have been hoping that someone might emerge. Maybe a healthy Locklear is ready to return to his 2010 form.
David Wilson gets his shot with the first-teamers
Everyone figured it was only a matter of time before Wilson caught and surpassed Ahmad Bradshaw on the depth chart, but few figured it could happen before the season even started.
The Giants still believe in Bradshaw, and they're paying him to be their starter, but the speedy Wilson has lived up to expectations in camp and the preseason, and Bradshaw is hurt again.
With Bradshaw unlikely to play on Friday night, the rookie first-round pick will have an opportunity to prove that he's ready to gain first-team reps from the get-go.
Keith Rivers tries to fill the void left by Michael Boley
Boley should be back for the opener, but his hamstring injury is becoming a concern, and the Giants need insurance. Rivers has been a revelation this summer, displaying great discipline and physicality, and they're hoping that he can step up to cover for Boley.
But there's more to thicken the plot.
Second-year tackle machine Jacquian Williams is finally ready to make his preseason debut. Williams probably would have been first in line to replace Boley two weeks ago, but he wasn't healthy.
If Rivers can perform well Friday and next week, he'll earn lots of reps this season regardless of what happens with Boley. Ditto for Williams.
And of course, we'll be watching Mark Herzlich, Chase Blackburn and Prince Amukamara, among others. Check back tomorrow for a full review of the Giants' performance against the Bears.