By Paul Dottino

EAST RUTHERFORD – Rhett Bomar was far from spectacular in his first pro start. In fact, his performance was rather inconsistent in the Giants’ 24-17 preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

He finished 13-of-26 for 167 yards with an interception that deflected off of Mario Manningham, got sacked twice and scrambled three times for 21 yards. However, he also showed grit, toughness and leadership skills in the way he hung in the pocket – traits that impressed coach Tom Coughlin.

So let’s review the three things we told you to watch for going into this game:

1. Bomar. He made several good reads and peeled himself off the turf several times without flinching. He’s mobile and he threw several nice passes – the best being a 45-yard completion to Steve Smith down the left sideline in the first half. The downside is that Bomar wasn’t as accurate as he needs to be if the Giants were to call on him in a regular season game. Can he improve his accuracy with more reps over time? Perhaps. But it would be hard to boost him ahead of second-string quarterback Jim Sorgi (out with a shoulder injury for 2-3 weeks) off of this performance. Did Bomar show enough to warrant another extended look next weekend against the Baltimore Ravens? Absolutely.

2. MLB Keith Bulluck and SS Kenny Phillips. They made their preseason debuts with the reserves, played through a series and generally pleased Coughlin. Bulluck finished with two tackles, including a very impressive stick on RB Rashard Mendenhall at the Giants’ 6 in the second quarter. Bulluck read the play, darted left and smacked Mendenhall head-on after a 2-yard gain. It was the type of hit that the Titans grew accustomed to over Bulluck’s career. Phillips did not get involved in the fray during his short time in the game.

3. P Matt Dodge. The inconsistency that plagued against the Jets showed up again against the Steelers and Coughlin’s patience must be wearing very thin. Again, his gross average of 43.2 (with a long of 60) and a decent 36-yard net do not tell the whole story. He hit a wobbler, a line drive and did not get sufficient hang time on almost all of his punts. He fared well at his one attempt at an Aussie kick – the ball bounced backwards 4 yards and was downed at the Steelers’ 17 for a 24-yard net. It would not be surprising to see another punter to at least compete with him before the Baltimore game.

NOTE: D.J. Ware suffered a first-half concussion while covering a punt but appeared to be okay after the game. Coughlin said he and safety Sha’reff Rashad (concussion) will go through the requisite tests Sunday.

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