By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
The preseason for the NFL is an exciting time as fans get the first glimpses of their favorite teams; the new players the team brought in and the fresh slate gives every team the hope that this could be their year. That’s about all that is good with the preseason though as it reared its ugliest head throughout the process in injuries. One team that was hit hard with this was the New York Giants, who saw really no positives from the preseason. Here is a rundown of the preseason as a whole as the Giants gear up for the regular season opener on Sunday Night Football September 7th in Dallas against the Dallas Cowboys.
Injuries were the biggest story during the preseason for the Giants. The Giants were not the only team to lose players to injury during the NFL warm up season but they did suffer some serious losses. The first loss came against the New York Jets in the third preseason game as starting Safety Stevie Brown was lost for the season with a torn ACL after intercepting a pass. Brown was a huge surprise last season with eight interceptions playing for the oft-injured Kenny Phillips and was expected to play a big role in the defense this season. That will no longer be the case as he will rehab to try and come back next season.
The Brown injured leaves a big hole in the Giants roster heading into the regular season. The expected starter opposite Brown, Antrel Rolle, battled injuries during the preseason as well but got healthy enough to appear in the fourth preseason game. This leaves Rolle, veteran offseason acquisition Ryan Mundy and Cooper Taylor as the only safeties available at the start of the season. Tyler Sash it was announced was cut and Will Hill will be serving a suspension to start the season. The releasing of Sash with such a lack of depth shows that the Giants are confident Terrell Thomas, returning from two consecutive lost seasons from ACL injuries, can play safety in a pinch.
Some free agent options the Giants can look into are Phillips, who was released from the Philadelphia Eagles. It is save to think that Phillips was released because he is unhealthy and may not be the best option for the Giants to bring in as they need healthy bodies. Another option is Kerry Rhodes, the former Jets and Arizona Cardinals safety. He is a veteran and should be able to pick up the Giants schemes quickly enough to help out.
Another big loss the Giants suffered in the preseason was to Running Back Andre Brown. This one was a little more self inflicted, as Brown had no reason to be taking snaps in the fourth preseason game into the second quarter but that is what Tom Coughlin wanted and he paid for it. Brown broke the same leg he broke last season that ended his season prematurely. Thankfully for the Giants it seems this one is less serious as Brown and doctors say it is only a crack and he should be in 4-6 weeks.
|Jared Wickerham/Getty Images|
Brown just seems to be a bad last name to have if you are playing on the Giants and this one hurts almost as much. David Wilson was expected to be the starting back but Brown was looked at as having goal line and some third down duties because of his ability to pass protect for Eli Manning. Now without Brown in the backfield Wilson will carry the load predominantly by himself for the first couple of games. Name recognition and experience are thin behind the Giants as currently Ryan Torain, Da’Rel Scott and rookie Michael Cox. They have said that they are ready but it is easier said than done. Torain had a solid 2010 with the Washington Redskins but this will be a whole different monster as that Redskins team was no good; with the Giants playoffs and Super Bowls are the aim.
On the free agent wire there are some interesting options for the Giants to go after. The first one that sticks out is Michael Turner, the former Atlanta Falcons running back. He would be a nice compliment to the speed and breakaway ability of Wilson as the banging running back between the tackles. Another option would be former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. They know what they are getting with Jacobs and he is familiar with the system; that is also a reason they may not bring him back as they let him go once and may not want to deal with him again.
The Giants offense looked awful throughout the preseason. Without Victor Cruz for most of it as he nursed a heel injury, the Giants first team struggled to get anything going. Manning looked out of sync and not on the same page with Hakeem Nicks all preseason. The only time Manning looked good was his last series of the preseason against the New England Patriots when he connected with Nicks on a three yard touchdown pass. Hopefully they ride that momentum into the regular season.
Manning struggled completing only 47.1 percent of his passes in the preseason. He did throw two touchdowns and only one interception but the inability to connect with his receivers on a more consistent basis was disappointing. One play that sticks out of him and Nicks not being on the same page was against the Jets when Manning misplaced a throw to Nicks who was wide open streaking into the end zone. The two will look to get back on the same page in the days leading up to their opening week game and will all benefit from Cruz being back in the lineup as well.
One player who stood out on offense for the Giants throughout the preseason was Wilson. Coming into the year knowing he would have an expanded role in the offense he looked outstanding in the preseason. Wilson took 24 carries for 179 yards and one touchdown. He had two plays of 20+ yards and one 84 yard game on the Giants first offensive possession against the Jets. Wilson averaged 7.5 yards per carry and showed the explosiveness and quickness that the Giants are hoping he brings to the offense that he had on special teams last season. He also added seven receptions for 31 yards. If this shows anything it is that Wilson is going to be a big part of what the Giants are doing on offense this season.
Another player who stood out during the preseason was Rueben Randle. Randle was the second draft pick made last season after Wilson and both look poised to help the Giants out big time this season. Randle came into camp looking like a different person as coaches and players alike raved about his new attitude and maturity. Last season Randle was said to not practice hard and be lost some of the time but the tone has really changed in year two. Coaches said he dominated practices when Nicks and Cruz were out and he looks ready to break out if one of them suffers an injury or falters. Randle gives the Giants a legitimate third option in the offense at wide receiver and will also help out in the punt return game as well.