Tonight, Big Blue will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in their first preseason game, and although starters will take between only 12-15 snaps, there's still plenty to keep an eye on. After all, these preseason games provide opportunities to propel young careers a la wide receiver Victor Cruz. They also help determine starting and reserve jobs, while others simply fight for their spot on the 53-man roster. Accordingly, there's plenty to keep an eye on after kickoff at 7:30 PM EST.
Linebackers: Every single position at linebacker is wide open. It's very literally an open competition and everyone has a chance to not only make the team, but earn the opportunity to start. Mark Herzlich will begin in the middle with Keith Rivers and Spencer Paysinger on the outside, but they will quickly be followed-up by Dan Connor, Jacquian Williams and Aaron Curry. We'll also get to see plenty of Jake Muasau, Kyle Bosworth and Etienne Sabino. Six spots, three to the starters and nine men vying for those jobs. It should be intense.
David Wilson: Wilson is the man now. Plain and simple. Yes, he will split carries with Andre Brown, but when all is said and done, he's the starting running back for the New York Giants and he'll have to show improvement in his pass protection and blitz pick-up. And against the Steelers, he's going to have quite a few opportunities to test exactly how far he's come in that area, as running back coach Jerald Ingram plans to use him quite a bit tonight. It will also be interesting to see if he returns kicks.
David Carr vs. Ryan Nassib: Can the Giants really afford to use three roster spots on quarterbacks? They say that's the plan, but injuries to Jason Pierre-Paul, Henry Hynoski and an overall uncertainty about some of their defensive backs returning from injury may prevent them from doing so. As such, the battle within the battle between Carr and Nassib could become very important. The Giants traded up to draft Nassib at the NFL Draft this past year, and that means they have to find a space for him or risk losing their entire investment. On the other hand, would they truly feel comfortable with an untested rookie behind Eli Manning when David Carr — a proven and talented veteran — is their other option?
3-4 Defensive Implementation: With the Giants "toying around" with the idea of Justin Tuck as a pass rushing outside linebacker, and some of the 3-4 looks the defense has showed thus far in camp, it will be quite interesting to see how that plays out on the field against a very physical Steelers offense. The fact that Tuck (back) may miss the game could prevent the team from testing it as much as they would like, but fans should fully expect to see some 3-4 looks tonight.
Rookies/Opportunity: Every year, rookies and other young players are given an opportunity to shine. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. Tonight will be no different, and fans can expect to see a lot from players like Damontre Moore, Michael Cox, Ryan D'Imperio, Trumaine McBride, Charles James, Adrian Tracy, Adewale Ojomo, Brandon Mosley and many others. It's a chance for you to familiarize yourself with the depth the team has at training camp, to watch players you wouldn't otherwise see and to get a glimpse of some players who are sure to shock everyone and make it onto the 53-man roster.
Tick. Tock. It's only a matter of hours now.
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