Let’s be real. The preseason finale for any team is about the worst version of NFL football you will ever watch. Most, if not all, front-line players won’t play. By Saturday, lots of guys who get extended playing time in their team’s preseason finals won’t be in the NFL any longer. Many never to return. What you see won’t, in any way, be a real representation of what your favorite team will look like when the regular season begins.
With all of those things in mind, MetLife Stadium will be maybe one-third full Thursday night when your New York Giants face the New England Patriots (7 p.m. ET) in the final preseason game for both teams.
Still, there are plenty of good reasons to attend if you have tickets, or to watch the game if you don’t. Let’s go through some of them.
Davis Webb and Kyle Lauletta
If everything goes according to plan for the Giants, Thursday night will be the last time you see either young quarterback take anything other than a handful of mop-up snaps this season.
Webb has shown both the ups and downs of life with a young quarterback this season, but along the way has showcased the arm and the growing confidence that make him intriguing. Lauletta doesn’t have Webb’s howitzer, but he has accuracy, anticipation, movement skills, has taken good care of the ball and managed to make enough plays to also be intriguing.
Offensive line roster spots
Forget the starters. You aren’t going to see them Thursday, or at least not enough of them to be meaningful. The backup spots remain unsettled, especially at tackle. Can Chad Wheeler or Nick Becton play well enough to secure a spot, or will their play convince the Giants to seek an upgrade? John Greco (center/guard) and John Jerry look like likely backups, but could Chris Scott, Zak Kerin or someone else make a push?
Young running backs
With Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman and Jonathan Stewart it doesn’t seem likely that the Giants will keep an extra running back on the 53-man roster. Young rushers Robert Martin (12 carries, 86 yards, 7.2 yards per attempt), Jalen Simmons (13 carries, 48 yards, 3.8 yards per attempt) and Jhurell Pressley (13 carries, 71 yards, 5.5 yards per attempt) have all done good things. Can one of them force his way onto the roster?
Last chance for Roger Lewis Jr.?
Since the spring it has been apparent that Roger Lewis, despite 36 catches a year ago, wasn’t a player favored by the Giants’ new regime. Cody Latimer has become the third receiver, and Hunter Sharp, Kalif Raymond, Russell Shepard and Amba Etta-Tawo have all gotten more opportunities than Lewis in both practices and games.
Thursday is Lewis’s last chance to show the Giants something, or to put something good on film for the other 31 teams.
Final starting spots unveiled?
Who doesn’t play Thursday might tell us who the Giants will look as the starting slot corner and starting safety. There is an assumption those jobs will go to B.W. Webb and Curtis Riley, respectively. If they get the starter treatment — meaning, they don’t play — that will be confirmed.
Can Aldrick stay perfect?
Aldrick Rosas went 8-for-8 on field goals last preseason. He is 6-for-6 this preseason. Can he finish off a second straight perfect preseason? The more important question, of course, is what Rosas will do in the regular season. Still, it would be nice to see him stay perfect on the preseason.
Snap counts will tell a story
End of the roster guys who either don’t play, or see very little action, are almost certain to get cut on Saturday. So, we should get some roster hints.
Punt return competition
Has Hunter Sharp already won the job? Can Kalif Raymond take it away? Raymond would appear to need a big night vs. New England. Let’s see if he can have one.