By Paul Dottino
EAST RUTHERFORD – There literally is no tomorrow for several Giants who will take the field in Thursday’s preseason finale against the New England Patriots. Coach Tom Coughlin has until Saturday to cut his roster to 53, although he’s likely to start making decisions almost as soon as the game is over – if he hasn’t already done so.
It’s possible as many as four roster spots could be in some state of flux going into the game – with the highest profile bubble players being current second-string quarterback Rhett Bomar (eligible to become the third-stringer via practice squad), and rookie punter Matt Dodge. Dodge can not afford to have a poor night after showing limited improvement since he arrived at camp.
That said, here are three important angles to watch in the game:
1- Bubble players. We’ve already mentioned Bomar and Dodge, but let’s explain further. Coughlin admitted he’d be open to adding a quarterback from the outside if that player is a good fit – and cost effective. You can read this as “a veteran who doesn’t feel the need to start but has something left in his tank,” and “won’t cost too much in a trade,” or “doesn’t require a lot of guaranteed money/a multiyear contract.” Bomar has impressed the staff with his toughness and improved ability to direct an offense, but Coughlin has yet to offer the type of ringing endorsement that indicates Rhett will receive a key inscribed with the No. 2 logo on it.
Bomar remains inconsistent with his accuracy and he’s taken very few snaps as a pro – and those have all been in the preseason. Dodge’s inconsistencies have been well documented, as well. Although he displayed some improvement in Baltimore, it’s very easy to be impressed with his leg strength, and he’s been very impressive holding for veteran placekicker Lawrence Tynes.
2- Setting an example. Tom Coughlin was careful to say the Giants gave effort against the Ravens, although he would have preferred to see more gumption out of players fighting for position on the depth chart. Several veterans agreed with his assessment, which means the team needs to illustrate a desire that it won’t accept that type of performance again. The starters are expected to play a quarter, so they will have a limited opportunity to set the tone. Will they do so effectively? Which reserves will follow their example? This is a great opportunity for the players to exhibit leadership and/or unity.
3- Cruz-in’ along. Paterson, N.J. native Victor Cruz (via UMass) has been the unquestioned rookie star of the preseason. He’s the NFL leader with 251 receiving yards and four TD catches and shares the NFC lead with 12 receptions. Coughlin has been effusive in his praise for the free agent’s ability to catch the ball as a receiver, but the coach also has expressed disappointment in the player’s missed blocking assignments and lack of production on special teams. The placement of veteran Sinorice Moss (sports hernia) on season-ending injured reserve probably means Cruz makes the roster, but those two negatives could slot Cruz as the No. 6 wideout, meaning he’s the one who remains inactive every weekend (unless there’s an injury).