The fourth and final preseason game is pretty much as bad as it gets: the starters hardly play, while they do you're just praying they don't get hurt and the looming season opener (the following Wednesday, September 5th against the Dallas Cowboys, in case you forgot) combine to make the entire silly exercise even more excruciating.
But that doesn't mean we take a break around here at G101. No coasting into the regular season. Here's what we're watching for against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
The defensive tackles
With Chris Canty officially on the shelf until the 6th week of the season, there's only two sure things for Big Blue at defensive tackle: starter Linval Joseph and presumed fellow starter Rocky Bernard. After that, you've got four guys fighting for two, or maybe three, spots: Marvin (I haven't played a meaningful snap in years and I just hurt my back again) Austin, Marcus (I thought my career was over a few weeks ago when no one showed free agent interest in me) Thomas, Markus (the German 7th-round prospect) Kuhn and Dwayne (I've been on the team for two years but you've never heard of me) Hendricks.
All of these guys give reason to think they can contribute. And all come with question marks, from health to readiness to talent. We're sure the Giants have an idea which way they're leaning, but with the starters playing only a drive or two there should be plenty of playing time against the Patriots. Last chance to open some eyes for some big guys up front.
The Giants came into the season stacked at cornerback. And now Michael Coe is lined up to start the season opener. Let's put it this way: if Coe gets exposed by the Patriots starters (or, we suppose, even worse, the backups) people are going to melt down. It's unlikely the Giants will push turf toe-stricken rookie Jayron Hosley in this meaningless game, so all eyes will be on Coe and fellow bottom-of-the-depth-chart-guy-turned-possible-starter Justin Tryon.
Speaking of Michael Coe and Justin Tryon starting, it's easy to wonder whether Jerry Reese has secondary help on the radar. Even if guys start to get healthy, there's really almost zero experience in the cornerback unit behind Corey Webster. Whether it's Deon Grant, a veteran corner who gets cut (or the Giants trade for) or a waiver claim, don't be too surprised to be watching a guy who's not currently on the team getting some crash-course reps against the Patriots.
By all accounts, it looks like Chase Blackburn will retain the early down middle linebacker duties despite Herzlich generating buzz earlier in the summer. If that's the case, this could be the last opportunity for Herz to show that he's coming on strong as an NFL. Believe us, a standout performance even with the second team this week and people will be penciling him in as the 2013 starter.
With David Diehl getting older and William Beatty still unable to get on the field, swing tackle Sean Locklear looks like he might get his number called. We kept an eye on him last week and were pleasantly surprised. Another performance like that from the veteran Locklear is good news for Eli Manning and the running game.
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