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Dottino: For Giants’ Bubble Players, One Last Chance To Impress

(credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

(credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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By Paul Dottino
» More Columns

One more chance.

If we are to put much stock in coach Tom Coughlin’s summer grading system, there is a stronger than ever emphasis on preseason games — thanks to the restrictive CBA. So, yes, there really is one more chance for guys on the bubble to make the Giants’ roster in tonight’s preseason finale against the New England Patriots. And there really is a chance for a player to alter his position on the depth chart. The final cuts from 75 to 53 must be made by Friday at 9 p.m.

Coughlin has said his healthy starters will receive some playing time against the Pats. You can interpret that to mean no more than a couple of possessions. Pats coach Bill Belichick usually doesn’t dress his starters for the final preseason game – although they might make a cameo in this one because he’s been unhappy with their performance. Either way, the Giants aren’t likely to learn much about any questions regarding the first unit.

So here are three things to watch for in the game:

1. Kick returns. Why is it so difficult to find somebody – anybody – to nail down the punt return and kickoff return jobs? It’s becoming more and more likely that WR Domenik Hixon (coming off two ACL surgeries) may have to handle punts on opening night against the Dallas Cowboys.

Kickoffs? Coughlin’s praise of first-round RB David Wilson’s speed appears to have given the rookie a slight edge for this role – so let’s see if the prospect gets a few more chances and what he does with them.

2. Cornering the market. Michael Coe is entering his fifth NFL season (with his third team: Colts, Jags, Giants) and appears to be next up as the opening night starter, thanks to injuries to Terrell Thomas, Prince Amukamara and Jayron Hosley.

It would be Coe’s first career pro start. Yes, number one. Coe has had a solid spring and summer, saying he’s more comfortable in the system than he has been at any time during his three seasons with the Giants.

He’s hoping the Patriots throw a few plays his way, because there are no more practice tests after tonight. Justin Tryon appears to be next in line on the depth chart, ahead of a struggling Bruce Johnson.

3. Trenches. Which of the backup offensive linemen should be retained? It’s been a rough summer for the entire second unit and even a good game against the Patriots might not be enough to prevent the Giants from plucking somebody off of the waiver wire.

On the flip side, the injury-riddled defensive tackle position needs to be solidified behind starters Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard. Marcus Thomas, Dwayne Hendricks and Markus Kuhn will be given a good chance to show where or if they belong on the depth chart.

Who will make the grade — and who will fail to deliver? Make your predictions in the comments below…