By Paul Dottino
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The feeling nearly is unanimous among the Giants. Coach Tom Coughlin does not put any extra emphasis on playing the annual preseason game against the Jets and his players have bought into his philosophy.
Tonight’s game – which is a Jets home game and thus will be filled with Gang Green faithful who have bought into the Tim Tebow hype – merely is a way for the coach to sort out the limited questions he has for his starters as well as helping to establish the back of his depth chart. The game also provides another opportunity for his players to clean up some of the sloppy play they exhibited in the preseason opener, a 32-31 loss at Jacksonville.
Here are three areas to watch:
1. The Return Game. Second-year pro Jerrel Jernigan and rookie Jayron Hosley each muffed a punt that the Jaguars converted into a touchdown, sparking their come-from-behind victory. These giveaways annoyed Coughlin to the max because he understands how turnovers can destroy a team during the regular season. He’s hinted that Jernigan and Hosley will get to redeem themselves tonight. However, the Giants also signed return specialist Laron Scott this past week and he’s likely to get a chance as well. Scott was waived by the New Orleans Saints after the Hall of Fame game, a few months after signing as a rookie free agent. He spent three seasons at Southern Georgia, where last year he ranked third in the NCAA with a 30.59-yard kickoff return average. He had a career-average of 27.9 yards with two touchdowns.
2. Left Tackle. Projected starter William Beatty has been nursing a balky back and missed some snaps during training camp. Coughlin said the Giants are attempting to control the situation with medication, but it’s not likely the coach is going to push Beatty in the second preseason game. So you can expect veteran Sean Locklear to start against the Jets. The Giants need to see if Locklear has enough left in his tank to do an adequate job on the left side; otherwise, they will have to flip him with RT David Diehl or perhaps make a trade.
3. Defensive Tackle Rotation. How the numbers dwindled here. Linval Joseph is the only healthy member of the anticipated regular season rotation. Dwayne Hendricks had a solid outing against the Jaguars, but the rest of the group did not fare as well. With Chris Canty (knee, on PUP), Shaun Rogers (blood clot, out for season), Rocky Bernard (sore knee) and Marvin Austin (sore back) battling ailments, the Giants were forced to sign a couple of free agents this past week – most notably former Denver Bronco Marcus Thomas. But Thomas, a sixth-year pro who specializes in stopping the run, arrived on Thursday and it would be expecting a lot for him to play so soon. Carlton Powell, who also spent time in Denver, and Oren Wilson, a rookie from Akron, arrived a few days ago and are expected to play.
What will you be looking for in the Jets vs. Giants game? Let us know below in the comments section.