The New York Giants wrap up the preseason Thursday night against a familiar AFC rival, the New England Patriots. Traditionally, the fourth and final preseason game is the least interesting of the batch, but with so much competition amid New York's depth chart and with the starting offense trying to right the ship, this year's exhibition finale is a little more intriguing than usual.
What we'll be watching...
Can the first-team offense get it together?
No Victor Cruz, David Baas or David Diehl, but the remainder of the regular offensive starters are expected to get some playing time in Foxboro. The starters, who have struggled to move the ball throughout the month of August, will get 12-15 plays against the Pats, according to the New York Daily News, and head coach Tom Coughlin has some expectations in place:
"I’d like to see some continuity and some execution, some performance,” he said. “I’d like to see us get the ball in the end zone. I’d like to see us do well on third down. I’d like to see our passing game with our protection look like some type of an efficient operation. I’d like to see progress — that’s really what I would like to see."
I don't think you can read too deeply into preseason struggles, but considering how rough things have been for this team throughout the offseason, a little momentum on offense would certainly be appreciated.
Julian Talley makes a final push
Talley fell short of making the final 53 in 2012, but he's been performing extremely well throughout the summer in his second kick at that can. The 24-year-old out of UMass is fighting for the sixth receiver spot, behind Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy and Jerrel Jernigan, but he's coming off his best preseason game yet and could have what it takes to beat out Ramses Barden for a roster spot.
However, Marcus Harris and Kevin Hardy are also in the mix, so there are plenty of receivers to keep an eye on Thursday night. Keep in mind that every receiver who appears to be locked in has had injury issues. This matters.
Some talented defensive linemen will be saying goodbye
Even with Osi Umenyiora and Chris Canty gone and Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck coming off of injuries, there's not enough room for every pro-caliber defensive lineman on the current roster to make the final 53. Pierre-Paul, Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Damontre Moore and Johnathan Hankins are probably locked in, which probably only leaves two spots for Shaun Rogers, Adrian Tracy, Mike Patterson, Justin Trattou, Marvin Austin, Matt Broha and Adewale Ojomo.
Rogers and Patterson have made a combined 227 career starts, Tracy was a sixth-round pick in 2010 and Austin was second-rounder in 2011. That's a lot of talent on the bubble.