What can we learn from a preseason game? Plenty. Here are five things to watch Friday night when your New York Giants take on the Cincinnati Bengals in their preseason opener.
Line play on both sides
Media reports from Cincinnati were that both the Giants' offensive and defensive lines held up well during joint practices with the Bengals on Tuesday and Wednesday. Can they do it during the game?
Offensive line -- Of course, all eyes will be on rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers. If he plays a few snaps despite his hip flexor, that is. Flowers had ups and downs during the practices. Will Marshall Newhouse hold up on the right side? What about the backups? Second- and third-unit offensive line play is always messy during preseason games. Will any of the group of reserves fighting for jobs play like guys who belong on an NFL regular-season roster? It is still possibility that the Giants look to supplement what they have on the line before the season starts. We begin Friday to get a real idea of whether or not they need to.
Defensive line -- Reports were that the Giants did a pretty good job putting pressure on Bengals quarterbacks during the joint practices. Rookie Owamagbe Odighizuwa drew raves from teammate Robert Ayers. Damontre Moore and Kerry Wynn have looked good thus far in training camp.
Among the defensive tackles, the Giants know about Johnathan Hankins. Who else joins him in the rotation at that position remains to be determined. The primary job, of course, is to be stout against the run. Let's see who shows that capability.
Which rookies stand out?
We already mentioned Flowers and Odighizuwa. This, though, is our first chance to assess the rookie in game situations. Will Landon Collins look as good as advertised? Can wide receiver Geremy Davis continue his impressive summer? Why did the Giants draft Mykkele Thompson or Bobby Hart? Does former CFL'er Brett Jones look like an NFL player? Will any of the undrafted free agents step up?
Will the safeties hold up?
Ahh, the safety question. The Giants need their mostly inexperienced safety crew to figure out how to do one thing -- not allow big plays. Tonight we get to see our first signs of whether or not they can do that. Bennett Jackson has been impressive, so much so that the Giants are considering using him as their nickel corner in addition to his safety duties. Jeromy Miles is having a good camp. We begin to see tonight how this will all play out.
Which wide receivers will step forward?
Who will be this year's Corey Washington? Will it be Washington himself? Will there be a guy who steps forward like Washington did last season as an undrafted free agent?
The bigger question is which receivers will earn the final couple of roster spots? Will Davis get one? Washington? Preston Parker? Does James Jones have enough left in the tank to squeeze another year out of his NFL career?
Backup cornerback play
Who backs up Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been a huge question for me since the spring. Perhaps we got an indication of what the Giants are thinking this week when they began giving Jackson reps in the slot, indicating that perhaps they might use him there in a three-safety look when the Giants are in their nickel or dime defense. That might allow them to use veteran Trumaine McBride as a backup on the outside, a spot where he has played well when needed. Other guys competing for spots include Chykie Brown, Jayron Hosley, Mike Harris, Josh Gordy, Trevin Wade and Chandler Fenner. How will this situation sort itself out?