After what felt like an eternity, the New York Giants are already preparing for their second preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Time sure does fly, doesn't it? Nevertheless, Big Blue will return to MetLife Stadium for the first time in 2014 to host the aforementioned Steelers and Eli Manning's 2004 draft mate, Ben Roethlisberger.
Head coach Tom Coughlin has already said starters will receive approximately the same number of reps as they did in the Hall of Fame Game against the Buffalo Bills, so we can expect to see them on the field for about two or three series.
What to Watch For:
- New Offense Test 2 – It took them a little while to get going a week ago, but for a brief moment, the Giants offense looked comfortable and efficient in Ben McAdoo's new offense. With an additional week of practice under their belt — which included some really impressive day — the entire unit gets a second chance at putting it all together during live game action. Now we get to see whether or not the high completion percentage a week ago was a mere anomaly or something we might begin expect weekly.
- Running Backs – Since the Giants last took the field, David Wilson was hit with news that his football career is over and Peyton Hillis suffered an ankle sprain that will keep him out "a little while." Now the question becomes, "can the Giants withstand these losses?" Obviously Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams will get their fair share of carries, but who will step up behind them? Paging Michael Cox and Kendall Gaskins. Your time is now.
- Aggressiveness from Defensive Backs – Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has stressed aggressiveness with cornerback Prince Amulkarama, but others have picked up on the message. Zack Bowman has heard the pleas (of fans) and started a daily tradition of knocking whatever is in the hands of the offense out their hands, while returns for touchdowns has been a focal point in practice. Can it carry over into live game action? Saturday presents exactly that opportunity for Big Blue's defense, who will aim to score in every game this season.
- Offensive Line/Depth – The Giants will again be without left tackle Will Beatty on Saturday night, and could be without left guard Geoff Schwartz as well. That will allow for some depth players to get a chance with starters
Five Six Players to Watch:
- Wide Receivers Marcus Harris & Corey Washington – Both Harris and Washington put on quite a show against the Buffalo Bills a week ago, and followed it up with a great week of practice. For hardcore Giants fans, each have now become a household name and are really starting to shoot up the ranks of popularity. However, they're both still battling for a job and can't allow the early success to distract them. In order to really impress head coach Tom Coughlin, they'll need to string together solid games and they'll get a shot at doing that this Saturday against the Steelers.
- Quarterback Ryan Nassib – Nassib looked promising against the Bills and much more comfortable in Ben McAdoo's offense than he did Kevin Gilbride's. Still, there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding the former fourth-round draft pick and, as we noted earlier this week, it's imperative that he goes out and wins the back-up job from Curtis Painter. From an investment standpoint, the Giants need Nassib to do well. He'll get a second crack at it on Saturday.
- Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul – Perry Fewell said this week he's seen "bursts" of the JPP of old, but that JPP did not show up last week against the Bills. Save for one batted down pass, JPP was manhandled one-on-one by a rookie and shutout of the box score. After a good week in practice, which included the repeated abuse of Charles Brown, JPP will look to knock off some of that remaining rust.
- Cornerback Jayron Hosley – Hosley had an awful performance against the Bills and will need to put on a show this Saturday. Both Charles James II and Trumaine McBride have been performing at a high level in practice and the former brings quality to the Special Teams unit, so Hosley needs a rebound in order to keep his hopes at a roster spot alive. He's already got a number of things going against him, including a four-game suspension to start the regular season, but it would be foolish to ignore his potential. He just needs to put that potential on display.
- Tight End Larry Donnell – Big Blue's tight ends have been generally unimpressive, but Donnell has stood out slightly above the rest since training camp began. He had another big week of practice and can only serve to help his own cause by playing well against the Steelers on Sunday. The starting job is still there for the taking and he's currently the closest to grasping it.
What say you, Giants fans? What are you most looking forward to seeing on Saturday night?
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Tags: Corey Washington, Football, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jayron Hosley, Larry Donnell, Marcus Harris, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Ryan Nassib, Tom Coughlin