Da'Rel Scott of the New York Giants gains yardage against the New England Patriots in the second half at Gillette Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Foxboro, Mass. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Here is your final preseason 'Kudos & Wet Willies.' There was a lot to like Thursday night in an 18-17 victory over the New England Patriots, an awful lot of young players who showed ability. Let's get right to it.
Kudos to ...
The Rookie Linebackers: I will talk about each of them individually in a second, but if you had a chance to watch the game how exciting was it to watch young, talented Giants linebackers -- yes, linebackers -- play like that? These guys were everywhere -- in the backfield to stop running backs, in the face of New England quarterbacks, right where they were supposed to be in kickoff coverage. Impressive work. Now, let's look at the four rookies individually.
- Jacquian Williams: To be honest, until last night I thought the sixth-round pick from South Florida had been relatively quiet during training camp and the first three preseason games. Well, Williams loudly announced himself Thursday -- showing exactly why the Giants surprised draft analysts by selecting him. Three quarterback sacks and seven tackles, including an impressive one in kickoff coverage where he nailed the return man inside the 10-yard line. He was praised repeatedly by Carl Banks, the former great Giants linebacker, during the TC broadcast and that is good enough for me.
- Spencer Paysinger: Four more tackles in extended duty for Paysinger, who just continues to impress. He got fooled once in pass coverage, but otherwise had another excellent night.
- Greg Jones: Four tackles, including one for a loss, and a quarterback sack for the rookie middle linebacker. Just one thing, Greg. Gotta work on your fumble recovery technique. If you missed it, Jones had an opportunity to recover a fumble, but seemingly could not decide whether to pick it up or fall on it. He wound up sort of 'face-planting' on top of the ball and watching it squirt away. On SportsCenter that would qualify as a 'Not Top 10.'
- Mark Herzlich: Not quite as many snaps as some of the other youngsters, but like he has all preseason he made the most of what he got. Had a tackle, a sack and a couple of pressures. Seemed like he and Williams spent much of the fourth quarter in the New England backfield.
The Young Running Backs: Sorry, D.J. Ware but after watching Andre Brown and Da'Rel Scott Thursday night I have no idea how the Giants let either one of them slip away. Which means Ware might have just watched his time with the Giants come to an end. Now, let's look at both backs individually.
- Andre Brown: You know, statistically Brown did not break any long runs. His longest of the night was called back on a Victor Cruz holding penalty. Brown, though, ran hard and ran decisively. Going up mostly against the Patriots starting defense, with the Giants second-team offensive line blocking Brown kept moving forward and making more out of plays than I thought possible. He finished with 21 carries for 68 yards, and he earned every last yard. Plus, it was Brown who sealed the edge on Scott's 65-yard touchdown run on the fake punt.
- Da'Rel Scott: How could the Giants dare expose the seventh-round pick from Maryland to waivers? No way they get him to the practice squad. Not with 97 and 65-yard runs for touchdowns in the preseason. He finished with 114 yards rushing on 12 carries and caught a couple of passes as well. I think I am even more impressed that both he and Brown pretty much put their jobs on the line by going to coach Tom Coughlin and special teams coach Tom Quinn and begging to be allowed to run the fake punt.
Tyler Sash: Seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble for the sixth-round pick. The Patriots took advantage of him once in coverage when Sash chose the wrong receiver to cover, but this is an impressive young player. You know what you have to love about this kid? He plays downhill, attacking the line of scrimmage.
Devin Thomas: Four catches for 42 yards and one nice kickoff return of 28 yards. This guy has a world of talent and could end up being really important for the Giants. If he chooses to bring his best effort every week.
Dwyane Hendricks: Five tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. And Hendricks probably gets cut on Saturday. At least he has some good film for teams who need defensive tackle depth.
Michael Coe: I think Coe has earned a backup cornerback job. Some pretty good coverage from him Thursday night, and four tackles.
Wet Willies to ...
Bear Pascoe: Love ya, Bear, but I think you played your way right off the roster Thursday night. Just like the first three preseason games the only time Pascoe wasnoticed Thursday was when he was being blown backwards by a defender. And it happened several times. Can't be a blocking tight end in the NFL when you are the one getting moved, or when you are letting guys run right around you to the quarterback.
Brian Williams: A 10-year veteran in the NFL has to know better than to go and smash a defenseless receiver in the head following a fourth-down incompletion in the final seconds of a one-point game -- an incompletion that effectively should have ended the game. Then there was the first-half interception that went right through his hands.
Kwillies to ...
Jerrel Jernigan: I am going to be completely honest here. Despite a muffed punt, a bobbled punt and a dropped pass I very nearly put Jernigan in the 'Kudos' category. I give the young man all kinds of credit for the way he came back in the fourth quarter from his earlier struggles. Two good fourth-quarter punt returns, on top of the 42-yarder early in the game. Also, a brilliant, twisting catch on the two-point conversion where he also nimbly kept his feet in bounds to win the Giants the game. The guy has been an adventure, and he is a work in progress, but if you don't see the game-breaking talent that caused GM Jerry Reese to draft him then you aren't paying attention.
David Carr: Not bad numbers (13-for 21, 116 yards, one interception), but Carr only produced three points. His interception was a horrible throw. He missed a potential touchdown when he chose to keep the ball rather than pass to a wide open Jake Ballard, then he fumbled a snap at the goal line.
Zak DeOssie: One brilliant tackle on special teams, but two very poor snaps Thursday night. One off-target snap that messed up Rhys Lloyd on a field-goal attempt. Another high snap that Matt Dodge had to jump for. It has gone pretty much unnoticed this preseason, but too many of DeOssie's snaps this preseason have not been on target.
Rhys Lloyd: His kickoffs were good, but he has not been the 'boom the ball out of the end zone' guy I thought he would be. Made a 47-yard field and missed from 48 and 49 Thursday night, though I am pinning one of those misses on DeOssie. It will be really interesting to see if he sticks on the 53-man roster.