By Paul Dottino
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The Giants failed in their primary goal in Foxboro — getting out of the game without injuries.
Andre Brown (fractured leg), Adrien Robinson (foot) and Tyler Sash (concussion) were forced out of the 28-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the preseason finale.
As if coach Tom Coughlin didn’t have enough to worry about as he tries to cut his 75-man roster down to 53 by Saturday at 6 p.m., now he’s also got to figure out how these injuries play into his decisions.
Let’s review how the Giants fared in the three angles we told you to watch for in the game:
1. The O-line. Sporadic. The first-team offense lasted for three first-quarter possessions, finishing with 18 snaps and 115 yards of total offense.
The line of William Beatty, James Brewer, Kevin Boothe, Chris Snee and Justin Pugh did not allow a sack during this time and helped pave the way for a 10-play, 91-yard TD drive.
Pugh stayed in with the second unit and continued to do a solid job. Brewer moved out to left tackle, where he had more issues than he did at guard.
The backup line did not fare nearly as well, allowing five sacks over the rest of the game.
Unless center David Baas (knee) returns from his knee injury in time for Week 1, these starters will take the field against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Giants may need to decide if they are going to put David DIehl (thumb) on injured reserve and see how long Baas is out because they may be well advised to find a third tackle – preferably a veteran – on the waiver wire.
2. Four to three. The Giants’ multiple injuries may force the team to go back to their standard procedure of keeping just two quarterbacks – Eli Manning and one backup.
David Carr should be the pick over Curtis Painter, although Carr did not have a great preseason, either. Fourth-round pick Ryan Nassib was erratic throughout and did not provide much confidence that he could win some games if he were to be named the second-string quarterback.
Nassib was promoted to the second unit against the Pats to give him a better opportunity to succeed. He went 4-of-9 for 37 yards and misfired on at least a couple of throws. But it would be more than very difficult for the Giants to part ways with him only a few months after the draft.
And this is why Coughlin must have a huge headache on his hands — does he use the third quarterback’s roster spot to fortify one of his injury-riddled positions?
3. Punt returns. Undrafted rookie CB Charles James was given the assignment for the entire game. I would give him a “plus” despite a muff on his first return — it was coming from a left-footed kicker and James clearly had trouble with the rotation of the ball.
Coughlin obviously wanted to see how James would react to failure, so he trotted him out for the remaining seven punts. The result was one punt out of bounds, two fair catches and five returns for 50 yards, including a 30-yard sprint.
If the Giants want to guarantee James of being on the roster, he likely would be kept on the 53 at the expense of fellow CB Trumaine McBride, a six-year pro who cannot be waived to the practice squad. Their competition was close at corner and both spent time as gunners on the coverage teams. If there was a difference between them, it was that James returns kicks. So do the Giants cut McBride and lock up James? Or do they gamble by keeping McBride and trying to sneak James onto the practice squad? I would not expose James, but this is a tough call.
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