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Giants at Jets 2016: What to watch Saturday night

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Return of Victor Cruz, first-team offense among things to pay attention to

NFL: Preseason-New York Giants at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of the fact that the opponent will be the New York Jets, Saturday’s preseason game is an important one for the New York Giants after a pair of lackluster losses. Let’s look at five things to watch from the Giants perspective.

Cruuuuuuuuuzzzzz!

OK, so I borrowed that from Chris. Seriously, though, couldn’t this list begin and end with Victor Cruz? The return of the wide receiver, who will play in a game for the first time since Oct. 12, 2014, is really THE STORY Saturday night.

Will we see a salsa dance? Will we see vintage Cruz? Will we see an old, slow version of Cruz? Will we see something in-between? Whatever we see, all eyes will be glued to No. 80 whenever he is in the game.

First-team offense

The Giants haven’t scored a point in seven quarters. The first-team offense was abominable last Saturday against the Buffalo Bills. Coach Ben McAdoo questioned the physicality of the offensive line. The running game was non-existent, thanks in large part to poor blocking from the tight ends.

Eli Manning and Co. were one of the top 10 offenses in the NFL last season. On paper, this is a group with more playmakers that, even with questionable play from offensive tackles Marshall Newhouse and Ereck Flowers, should be at least that good once again. It would be nice to see some signs of that Saturday night.

Who plays, who doesn’t

The Turk is coming! First roster cuts, from the current 90 players to 75, have to be made by Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET. That makes this a nervous time for a lot of the end of the roster type guys. Starters will likely play the majority of the game, but watch for which guys come in once the starters call it a night. Guys who don’t play or only get in for a couple of plays could find themselves out of a job on Monday afternoon.

Kelvin or Jasper? Jasper or Kelvin?

Will the starting middle linebacker be Kelvin Sheppard or Jasper Brinkley? Darned if defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo knows.

“Still neck and neck. We’ve been repping it exactly that way. Even when you see in practice, Kelvin will go with the first team, first series and then Jasper will do the same thing,” Spagnuolo said. “It’s been a great battle. Two guys that respect each other and that’s what the league is all about. The more you can get that at every position the better you’re going to be.”

Let’s see if one of the two veterans can step forward Saturday night.

Placekicker competition

Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said this week that both Josh Brown and newly-signed Randy Bullock would get opportunities vs. the Jets. That, of course, assumes that the Giants will muster enough offense to find chances for both guys.

Bullock, formerly with the Houston Texans and the Jets, could be a simple one-game replacement for Brown when he serves his league-imposed suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Bullock, though, believes he is competing to oust Brown from the job entirely.

If this is purely “a football decision,” as co-owner John Mara has indicated, Bullock has little margin for error. Brown went 30-of-32 in field goals last season and was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his 13-year career.