The New York Giants host the New York Jets Saturday at MetLife Stadium in the third preseason game for each team. Here are five things to watch for from the Giants.
[NOTE: Ahead of the MetLife Bowl, the MetLife Foundation is donating $25 to charity up through Saturday's game every time you use or retweet a post with #Road2MetLifeStadium as part of their Road to MetLife Stadium campaign. If you are on Twitter, tweet for a good cause.]
1. Can the Giants protect Eli Manning? This will be the first test for the Giants' newly re-constructed offensive line. Neither rookie right tackle Justin Pugh nor center Jim Cordle have ever started an NFL game, something both will do Saturday night. Pugh, the team's first-round pick, figured to eventually crack the lineup -- but this is earlier than anticipated. Cordle has been a seldom-used reserve the past two seasons. Giants' fans have seemingly frothed at the mouth to get veteran T/G David Diehl out of the lineup, and haven't necessarily been fond of center David Baas, either. Will this end up being a case of 'be careful what you wish for?'
2. Return of Terrell Thomas. The veteran cornerback has not played in a game since tearing his ACL in a 2011 preseason game against the Chicago Bears. He tore the ACL again in training camp a year ago, and has now suffered three torn ACLs. It is believed that no defensive back has ever come back from such an occurrence. Thomas takes a huge step toward becoming the first to do so when he takes the field Saturday night.
3. Curtis Painter's chance. I have had a hard time believing that painter, formerly with the Indianapolis Colts, has a realistic chance of taking the No. 2 quarterback jbo away from incumbent backup David Carr. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has insisted that there is a "legitimate competition" between the two veterans. Saturday night is likely Painter's best chance -- and maybe his last chance -- to prove he would be the best choice to back up Eli Manning. Painter will play at least part of the game vs. the Jets, while Carr is not expected to play. Last week, Carr played and Painter sat.
4. Who plays and who doesn't. The first roster cuts (from 90 to 75 players) come on Tuesday. The snap counts from Saturday, which we will give you as soon as we can following the game on Sunday, will tell you a great deal about which players likely won't make it past the first wave of roster cuts.
5. Run defense. The Giants' defense is a work in progress, and if they are going to make the playoffs it is critical that they fix a run defense that was, bluntly, sieve-like, a season ago. Thus far in the preseason they have had one good game and one bad game vs. the run. Saturday night might tell us a great deal about whether or not they are actually making progress in that area.