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Giants at Bengals: 5 things to watch Thursday night

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What will you be looking for in third preseason game?

NFL: Preseason-Chicago Bears at New York Giants
Jon Hilliman runs the ball vs. the Bears.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL regular season is creeping closer. The New York Giants face the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday night in the third game of the preseason. Teams have to cut their roster to 53 players on August 31, just nine days from now.

So, here are some things to look for on Thursday night.

Dress rehearsal?

Maybe not.

We have seen team after team barely play their starters in the first two preseason games. The Chicago Bears did not play a single starter last Friday vs. the Giants. The third preseason game is traditionally the game when starters play the most snaps, but with the attitude toward preseason changing across the league it’s possible we don’t see starters for long at all. Guys like Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram probably won’t play at all.

Giants coach Pat Shurmur hasn’t said how he would approach Thursday’s game. Read into this statement whatever you will:

“People are starting to divert their opinions as to the importance of playing your players in the preseason games. I’ve already heard people talking to me about the third preseason game and it’s your dress rehearsal, that’s kind of like your halftime adjustments,” Shurmur said a few days ago. “I think you are getting ready to play every practice and every game. As a coach, you have to weigh the importance of the work you are doing and how much work each guy gets ... every team is different, and every coach views it differently based on the players they have and their experiences.”

Daniel Jones

Jones has been everything the Giants could have hoped for when they selected him No. 6 overall. Does that mean he will be a great NFL quarterback? Of course not, but what we have seen so far is certainly something to feel good about.

We’ll see if it continues against the Bengals.

Bubble battles

Players fighting for the final roster spots are running out of time to make impressions. Teams have to set their 53-man rosters by 4 p.m. ET on Aug. 31, nine days away.

The Giants have interesting, unsettled competitions across the roster.

Quarterback — Can Alex Tanney or Kyle Lauletta convince the Giants to keep three QBs?

Running back — Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins and Rod Smith are probably jockeying for two spots. Rookie Jon Hilliman might be headed to the practice squad.

Offensive lineChad Slade, Evan Brown and Nick Gates have drawn praise from Shurmur. Still, nothing is settled when it comes to reserve offensive linemen?

Tight end — Does C.J. Conrad need to play well the next two games to secure a roster spot, or has the undrafted free agent already done that?

Wide receiver — Can veteran Brittan Golden or youngster Reggie White Jr. force their way onto the roster?

Defensive line — Rookie Chris Slayton or veteran John Jenkins for the sixth spot? If, that is, the Giants even keep six at this position.

Backup linebacker/edgeB.J. Goodson, Jonathan Anderson, Josiah Tauaefa, Nate Stupar and maybe Avery Moss are competing for jobs. Jake Carlock? Probably a practice squad guy.

Cornerback — Can Sam Beal get healthy enough to show he deserves a roster spot?

Safety — With Julian Love able to back up Antoine Bethea, can the Giants find a spot for either Sean Chandler or Kenny Ladler?

Punter — We haven’t seen Johnny Townsend yet, but it looks like he and Riley Dixon are in a legitimate competition.

Darius Slayton

We thought the rookie wide receiver, a fifth-round pick working his way back from a hamstring injury, would make his debut vs. the Bears. That didn’t happen, though Shurmur said before that game that Slayton “just needs to get out there.”

This week Shurmur was non-committal about Slayton:

“We’ll see. He’s getting really, really close to being in there. We’ll just have to see if he makes it,” he said.

All those ex-Giants

Bobby Hart. John Jerry. Kerry Wynn. Tony Lippett. B.W, Webb. Hunter Sharp. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. I know you’re excited to see them. Shoot, that might even be true in Wynn’s case.