Jason Pierre-Paul and 4 Other New York Giants To Watch for the Rest of Preseason
Airing on Monday Night Football, it is sure to attract the attention from nearly every corner of the NFL.
Both teams will be keen on making a statement to their rivals (and, frankly, themselves) about the state of affairs in their respective camps.
Yet few teams have as much so-called pressure on them (if you can ever truly call it pressure in the preseason) as the Giants.
New York has done everything in their power short of forgetting to re-sign Ahmad Bradshaw to ensure that they "lose the offseason."
Whatever the actual ramifications this has remains to be seen, but as with any high-profile offseason, the Eagles drew many plaudits.
On the other hand, the Giants lost in both the court of public opinion, as well as in their roster strength.
As with any Tom Coughlin team though, they aren't at all concerned with grabbing headlines.
For Coughlin, he's just interested in chopping the roster down before the end of preseason.
When asked about whether he thinks about contracts at all, he responded, "Who's the best? That's what I think about."
So for the short term, the immediate concern for Giants is impressing during the upcoming games.
Let's take a look at some who will be particularly under the microscope.
Note: All quotes from giants.com.
Travis Beckum, Tight End
Whether or not Beckum can become a viable replacement for Kevin Boss (who signed with the Raiders as a free agent) is one of the serious battles in Giants preseason.
He certainly seems to possess the potential. Whether or not he can materialize as a competent, fully versatile tight-end remains to be seen.
"Obviously, catching as many balls is great for me and coming through and putting our team in a position to score," noted Beckum.
But can he block?
"Kevin was 270 pounds and that (235 lbs.) is a big difference. I am definitely willing to do it but I think the coaches are just going to put me in the best position to have success and maybe that is just moving around."
That doesn't exactly sound like a ringing endorsement for his totally replacing Boss.
Could the alternative be either Bear Pascoe or Jake Ballard?
Mathias Kiwanuka, Defensive End/Linebacker
A number of questions surround Kiwanuka. Can he stay healthy? Will he be used as a linebacker?
The one question that isn't asked about Kiwanuka is regarding his talent.
On that, there is no question. If he can find his niche and stay on the field, Kiwanuka could be a serious force.
Asked about this he said, "We’re trying to do a lot of different things right now."
He added that, "Wherever I line up, wherever everybody on the defense lines up, I think we have a lot of guys who can play a lot of different positions, myself included."
Based on what he's saying, I wouldn't be surprised to see Kiwanuka's ability as a pass-rusher used as well as his athletic capability in coverage.
The Giants were using a version of the 4-3 "under" defense at practice this past weekend with Kiwanuka as a down-lineman, but acting as a strongside linebacker.
This could be the answer, since he could be both a rusher or a linebacker in the secondary.
Domenik Hixon, Wide Receiver
Coming off a year in which he missed all of the 2010 season, Domenik Hixon would probably just settle for a spot on the team.
But he's been adamant to push for the open "slot" receiver role, which became vacant when Steve Smith left for the rival Eagles via free agency.
"I’m just trying to get in as much as possible, regardless of who it’s with. Just showing that I still know what I’m doing and running around."
"I'm healthy and ready to go."
After leading the team in catches in the first preseason game last Saturday, Hixon will hope to continue his, so far, successful return.
Will Beatty, Offensive Tackle
As Michael Lewis illuminated so well in The Blind Side, the left tackle position is critical to any team with a right-handed quarterback.
Thus the development and maturation of Will Beatty, a former University of Connecticut standout, is an important subplot of training camp.
He seemed happy at the return of Osi Umenyiora a few days ago, saying, "It makes me feel a lot better knowing that I have not only JPP, but Osi to go against."
And he has a point in acknowledging his practice competition. The Giants offensive linemen have a distinct advantage, since they practice against one of the most talented defensive lines in the NFL.
Beatty appears to be literally growing into the role of starter.
"Right now I’m around 320 so from playing last season around 300-310," noted Beatty, "it’s about 10-20 (lbs.) of good weight that I kept on during camp and not just gained it to drop it."
With the such a talented array of pass-rushers in the NFC East that will go against him, Beatty's progress will be secretly one of the most important aspects of the Giants season.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Defensive End
Jason Pierre-Paul is already one of the most scrutinized Giants, simply because of his status as a former first-round pick.
Now, with the Osi Umenyiora holdout-that-wasn't-really-a-holdout followed by Osi's surgery, Pierre-Paul finds himself thrust into a much larger role.
Asked if he is ready for a starting role, Pierre-Paul said, "Yes. I am going to go out there and do what I have to do to help the team win."
Managing two sacks in the preseason opener against Carolina, he already appears to be making progress in filling the massive shoes of Umenyiora.
And he certainly doesn't seem fazed by expectations.
"The expectations are going to be high, I just have to play to my full ability," noted Pierre-Paul.
With Osi expected to miss time for the next few weeks, the continued growth of their 2010 first-round pick as a football player will be an enormously important story line.