By Paul Dottino
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EAST RUTHERFORD – The Giants did not answer many questions in their preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, they may have added a bigger concern in that they did not stop the run off the edges and they did not show much of a power running game.
Coach Tom Coughlin plans to play his starters for 20 snaps in Preseason Week 2 against the Indianapolis Colts. The second unit with get 25 snaps and the back-end of the roster will fill in rest (40 or so).
Here are three of the most important angles you want to look for in the game:
1. THE RETURN GAME. WR Jerrel Jernigan had one decent kickoff return, although it actually came off a Pittsburgh punt following a safety. He’s likely to get more chances against the Colts, since he needs to show up in the return game to improve his chances of sticking on the final 53.
Rookie RB Michael Cox was unable to show his wares last weekend because the Steelers kicked the ball too deep and forced him into tacking touchbacks. But you can bet he will try to run out the ball whenever he’s back there in this one because he is eager to make a play.
Again, Coughlin will be looking for somebody to step forward so he can get Reuben Randle off this assignment. CB Jayron Hosley has looked good in practice and still might be the best option.
2. LOST THE EDGE? The Giants need better play from their linebackers, specifically on the outside in order to better stop the run.
The sub package, which featured the Spencer Paysinger-Jacquain Williams experiment at linebacker, was gashed for several running plays by the Steelers’ first-team offense. The Giants may be better off leaving Keith Rivers on the field for three downs, unless they are worried about his durability.
Paysinger played the best of the Giants’ top six linebackers last week, but did not make any impact plays. Williams was flying around but did not find the ball carrier as many times as necessary.
3. END OF THE LINE. First-round RT Justin Pugh will get his first pro snaps, after he missed last weekend’s game because of a concussion.
He has been working on both sides of the line, likely because the Giants are grooming him to be the swing tackle – and perhaps the third tight end in their jumbo package. Pugh has done a solid job in practice, although he has been locked up and moved a bit more than would be desired. On the positive side, he’s a good study with solid work habits and said he realizes he will have to adjust to the speed of the game when he starts taking professional snaps.
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