New York Giants' Most Positive Preseason Surprises So Far
If you happen to be one of the 90 men currently on the New York Giants' roster, stop reading. Your coach doesn't want you to read this; he explicitly said so after your 20-12 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night.
"Well, let's go prove who we are and what we have instead of everybody telling us how good we are," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said after the disappointing performance, via Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger. "Let's go prove something."
After failing to score a touchdown on Saturday and mustering only one stray 57-yard strike the weekend before against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Coughlin's frustration with his squad is warranted. While there have been a ton of positive reports coming from training camp, it has not yet translated onto the field during preseason.
Anyway, these are the five most surprisingly positive developments of the preseason so far—sorry, Tom.
Rueben Randle Steps Up
During May's organized team activities (OTAs), with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz missing, second-year receiver Rueben Randle took over practices. His ascension bled into training camp, as the Giants scrambled to create more opportunities for the three pass-catchers to be on the field at the same time. The young receiver has no intentions of being overshadowed within the crowded corps.
In the Giants' two preseason games to date, Randle hasn't been electric, but he has shown flashes of significant production. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he extended a drive by taking a short third-down pass 16 yards. On Sunday, against the Indianapolis Colts, he added two more catches for a total of 17 yards.
Considering Cruz's recent heel injury and Nicks' nagging groin, Randle has been one of the healthiest receivers in preseason. Even if he is not Eli Manning's most dynamic target in 2013, Randle could prove to be his most reliable from week to week.
Damontre Moore Emerges Early
As a third-round pick with multiple red flags, Damontre Moore wasn't expected to be an immediate producer. The Texas A&M pass-rusher has been on a tear in camp, though, and it looks like Moore could find himself a place in New York's historically deep defensive end rotation.
Moore stole the show against the Steelers with four tackles (three solo, one for a loss), a quarterback hit and a blocked punt.
Bleacher Report's Ryan Riddle power ranked Moore as the No. 9 rookie of the preseason on Aug. 15, after he was unranked the week before. His surprising rise was put on hold for the Colts game; Moore sat out with a shoulder injury.
Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka look revitalized along the edges, and the injection of youth at the defensive end position could have a little something to do with it. Moore is only 20 years old, but the youngster could relieve the two 30-year-olds of a handful of reps per game. Things will get very interesting when Jason Pierre-Paul makes a healthy return to action.
Michael Cox Takes the Lead
In the battle for the third running back slot, rookie Michael Cox has taken a few decisive steps forward. The former junior hockey star is finally making a name for himself on the gridiron, where he was overlooked for the entirety of his collegiate career. He could end up making an impact, in some capacity, alongside David Wilson and Andre Brown in 2013.
In Pittsburgh, Cox was the team's leading rusher with 33 yards on nine carries. A week later versus the Colts, he only carried the ball twice for four years. He did, however, display some valuable versatility. Cox caught two screen passes, made some nifty moves in the open field and finished the day as the Giants' leader in receiving yards.
Cox runs with a determination that his counterparts, Da'Rel Scott and Ryan Torain, seem to lack.
The seventh-round selection may end up being a diamond in the rough, much like Ahmad Bradshaw was in 2007. Both Wilson and Brown averaged more than four yards per carry against the Colts, and the addition of Cox could make for a tantalizing trio.
Josh Brown Looks Efficient
Lawrence Tynes, the man who kicked the Giants to the Super Bowl on two separate occasions, is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as the Giants decided this offseason to move forward with Josh Brown. The 34-year-old kicker has played with the Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams and Cincinnati Bengals over the past decade, but he is beginning to look at home in New York.
Brown's leg has gotten plenty of work in the Giants' first two exhibitions. He has connected on seven of his eight field-goal attempts during the preseason, the only hiccup being a 38-yarder he pulled wide left against the Steelers. He made up for the mishap by accounting for all 12 of the Giants' points in the Colts game.
Tynes was a reliable kicker to have in clutch moments, but he lacked elite leg strength. Brown can help New Yorkers forget about Tynes by splitting the upright from long distance, a skill in which he has excelled in years past. He sports a 64 percent career conversion rate on field-goal attempts of 50 yards or more.
Justin Trattou Silently Produces
He has hardly gotten the attention he deserves, but Justin Trattou has been a notable force at defensive end this preseason. Trattou has simply slipped between the cracks. He was waived last preseason due to injury, and he has been denied a dramatic training camp storyline, like Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Damontre Moore and even Adewale Ojomo have.
Trattou has made several eye-catching plays, and he is usually inserted when first- and second-stringers are still in action. Through two preseason contests, Trattou has collected four tackles (three solo, two for a loss), two sacks, three QB hits and a pass deflection. He was the only player to bring down a Colts passer on Sunday night.
After a season on the street, Trattou is back and clearly ready to contribute. With so many talented defensive ends on the roster, he will have a tough time finding room to contribute during the regular season. He is doing everything right, however, to secure a spot on the final 53-man roster.