EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Tom Coughlin had concerns about the New York Giants’ running game heading into the season and nothing has changed after the first preseason game.
The running game averaged a dismal 2.54 yards on 33 attempts in the 18-13 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night.
The first-team defense was shaky in its brief stint against one of the NFL’s hard-nosed rushing attacks.
Before getting overly concerned, the Giants had some excuses. The offensive line played without starting right guard Chris Snee (hip) and his backup James Brewer (concussion). The defensive line was minus defensive ends Justin Tuck (back) and Jason Pierre-Paul (PUP).
Coughlin was satisfied with a long touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz and good special teams play.
“The areas of concern was the offense’s inability to rush the ball with any consistency, and as other people entered the game, was their inability to adjust to Pittsburgh’s blitz package, just trying to understand what they are trying to do.”
None of the Giants running backs distinguished themselves in the start of the post-Ahmad Bradshaw era. He was cut in a salary cap move after 2012 despite having a 1,000-yard season.
David Wilson, the 2012 first-round draft pick, gained 16 yards on five carries. Andre Brown had 23 yards on four carries, but also had a fumble. Michael Cox, the seventh-round draft pick, had 33 yards on nine carries.
Wilson did show some ability to pick up the blitz, one of the question marks he faced entering the season.
“He had one very good cut block where he stepped up and took the blitzing linebacker on,” Coughlin said Sunday in a conference call.
“He tried to do the same (later) and the linebacker stepped over him. He has to learn that you don’t cut people at the feet of the quarterback, that’s not going to accomplish anything.”
Brown didn’t help his cause with his fumble.
“It really was careless, I don’t care how much and how well he played the game, there are certain things that have to happen before you run the ball,” Coughlin said.
“Look the ball in, if it’s going to be a toss or pitch or pass all first you have to catch the darn thing and put it away and cover it up before you go on to the next objective. I’m sure he’s going to learn a lot from that, and to his credit, he went back in and did a lot of good things.”
On the defensive side, Coughlin said the line got beat on all but two running plays.
“Our first-team defense had what we call two wins and seven losses against Pittsburgh’s running game,” Coughlin said. “That was a big objective for us coming in. We have to shore that up and be able to stop the opponents’ run.”
The Steelers gained 47 yards rushing on their two series against the Giants’ first-team defense, which ranked 31st overall last season.
New York started Spencer Paysinger, Mark Herzlich and Keith Rivers at linebacker, and no one stood out.
“I think there were flashes. I really do,” Coughlin said. “I don’t know if there’s any one particular individual that made enough plays or a whole lot of plays in order for me to say that. But we were steady. We didn’t give up a touchdown.”
Among the positives for Coughlin were the Giants only had three penalties, a punt block by rookie Damontre Moore that set up the Giants’ opening field goal, a late first-half drive led by David Carr that set up a field goal and a safety after Pittsburgh fumbled a handoff deep in its own territory.
The other negatives were failing to score a TD after Moore’s block gave New York a first-and-goal at the 5 and a fumbled snap that gave Pittsburgh a fourth-quarter touchdown.
NOTES: Coughlin said that free agent WR Kris Adams had surgery Sunday after breaking his left ankle in the game. There was no update on OL Chris DeGeare, who walked off the field with a leg injury. He was to have an MRI Sunday. …Tuck is scheduled to return to practice on Monday after missing two days last week with a tight back. …First-round draft pick Justin Pugh (concussion) has been cleared to practice and there is a chance that Brewer (concussion) and RB Ryan Torain (concussion) will be back.
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