The New York Giants host the Chicago Bears this evening in their second preseason game of the 2011 season. The game will be televised by ESPN beginning at 8 p.m. ET. After losing to the Carolina Panthers, 20-10, in their preseason opener head coach Tom Coughlin and the Giants will be looking for improvement in several areas when they face the Bears.
Let's go through some of what to look for against the Bears. In all likelihood this list ends up looking a lot like last week's list.
Improvement From The First-Team Offensive Line (Or, Please Don't Get Eli Killed, Fellas) -- Before the Carolina game new center David Baas had just five practices under his belt, and there were some obvious communication issues along the line.
The Backup Quarterback Battle (Or, Which Guy Do You Hope A Baseball Cap All Season?) -- Sage Rosenfels threw down the gauntlet against Carolina with an excellent 13-for-19 performance for 129 yards. David Carr gets his opportunity Monday night, and it is uncertain whether Rosenfels or young Ryan Perrilloux will finish the game. Rosenfels has been trying to recover from strep throat. Carr might not have to match Rosenfels' numbers against Carolina, but he will need to play well to have a shot at unseating Rosenfels.
The Young And The Restless (Or, The Young Linebackers) -- Undrafted free agent Spencer Paysinger got some first-team reps last week with Michael Boley experiencing back issues. Sixth-round draft pick Greg Jones seems to be quietly gaining some respect around the Giants. Little is settled when it comes to the backup linebackers, though, so keep an eye on which guys step forward. I know I will be paying close attention.
The Tight Ends (Paging Travis Beckum, Mr. Beckum, Time To Show Up, Sir) -- Among the five tight ends currently on the 90-man roster Beckum is the one with the biggest upside -- the player who could have the biggest impact in the team's passing attack. Coughlin, though, is obviously getting tired of waiting for the oft-injured, often inconsistent, third-year player to start getting the job done on a regular basis. "He's got to stay out there," Coughlin said. "You see it. You just need to see more of it. You need to know that he's out there and he's going to practice and he's going to get to work." If Beckum can't start showing it to Coughlin and the Giants more consistently the Giants will likely be looking to upgrade that position before the season begins.
Special Teams (Or, Will They Ever Be Special?) -- Coughlin says the coverage would look a lot better if the Giants would actually make tackles when they have opportunities. Well ... umm ... duh! Failing to make tackles is an issue. The Giants put a lot of time and effort into special teams, and they have to get better than they were a year ago., Early signs against Carolina were not good. Also, let's see if anyone moves ahead in the Matt Dodge-Steve Weatherford punting derby. Watching Rhys Lloyd handle the placekicking duties should also be interesting. We might know more after Monday night about whether or not Lloyd can actually give Lawrence Tynes a real run for that job.