The New York Giants wrapped up their preseason schedule with a fairly underwhelming 6-3 victory over the New England Patriots in a game in which the two most impressive players were arguably Steve Weatherford and Zoltan Mesko, the punters for the Giants and Patriots, respectively.
The fourth preseason game is typically highlighted by fringe players on the roster either earning or losing their roster spots, as this final game is generally when teams rest their starters outside of a series or two to keep them healthy for the regular season. Of course, it is also essential to knowing what kind of depth is available on the team, and there were a few people who helped and hurt their cases for the Giants tonight.
The most significant takeaway on the night was, of course, avoiding any future injuries. In the last game, left outside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka left the game with a strained groin. In addition, cornerback Prince Amukamara, who had been starting in place of Terrell Thomas as he continues to recover from a re-aggravation of his knee, also left the game with what was later termed a “moderate” high ankle sprain by head coach Tom Coughlin, which is an injury that has a tendency to linger.
Outside of the avoidance of injuries, however, the top storyline must be the return to action of the Giants’ top wide receiver, Hakeem Nicks. Although he recorded only one reception for 6 yards, it was critical for him to be able to return to action before the beginning of the regular season. He originally fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot back in mid-May and hadn’t received much of any contact since then before tonight.
Indeed, Nicks began training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, and only began running routes on August 7th. He was taken off the PUP list a week later, and finally returned to practice just a week ago.
While the Patriots rested just about all of their starters, the Giants trotted out almost all of theirs, with the exceptions of guard Chris Snee and defensive ends Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. Even as they were faced with backups, however, the Giants’ starting offense had tremendous difficulty moving the ball after playing approximately a quarter.
Indeed, of the 4 drives led by Eli Manning on the night, 3 of them resulted in three and outs, while the other drive mustered one first down on a 15 yard pass to Victor Cruz on 3rd and 3. For his efforts, Manning was 4 for 8 on the night for 29 yards. Rookie first round back David Wilson, who started for Ahmad Bradshaw, managed only 13 yards on 8 carries, though he also added a 9 yard reception.
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