By Paul Dottino
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EAST RUTHERFORD – There are several spots on the back-end of the Giants’ roster up for grabs over the final two weeks of the preseason – the competition is great and as many as a handful of these slots likely won’t be decided until after the finale against the New England Patriots.
But first, the Giants will ask their starters to go about 30 snaps against the Jets. Curtis Painter will get his chance in the quarterback rotation with Eli Manning and Ryan Nassib, following David Carr’s productive appearance last weekend. The first cuts from 90 to 75 must be made by Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Here are three of the most important angles you want to look for in the game:
1. The O-line. It was a game of musical chairs in front of Manning at practice last week. He joked that he doesn’t even pay attention to the line, saying he’s always got confidence in his protection no matter who is playing up front.
The Giants hope they don’t let down their Pro Bowl quarterback despite LT Will Beatty, LG Kevin Boothe and RG Chris Snee being the only holdover starters from the first two preseason games. Third-year pro Jim Cordle takes over at center for David Baas (sprained knee) and first-round pick Justin Pugh is in at right tackle for David Diehl (thumb surgery).
But there’s also much interest in how well the backups perform, particularly tackle Jim Brewer and guards Brandon Mosley and Eric Herman.
2. Making A Comeback. Every member of the Giants organization is rooting for CB Terrell Thomas to make the 53-man roster, but it would be very hard for him to do so unless he’s able to be productive in both of his preseason outings.
Thomas, who is coming off a third ACL surgery, will be taking his first game snaps in two years. He’s looked very good in practice and it’s very possible he will play well enough in the game to warrant keeping him. But the bigger issue is how well his body holds up – not only on the field, but on the ensuing days. Thomas must prove he can compete and then be ready to practice and play the following week – otherwise, the team likely will not be able to afford the risk of giving him a roster spot.
3. One More Time? Coach Tom Coughlin has yet to name a starting unit of linebackers, although it would appear OLB Keith Rivers has locked up one spot. Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams continue to battle on the other side while Dan Connor appears to be in position to beat out Mark Herzlich.
The Paysinger-Williams battle seems to be even and it’s possible a winner will not be named until the week of the opener.
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