By Paul Dottino
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So much for staying injury-free.

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Giants coach Tom Coughlin didn’t have to wait more than a couple of snaps before he watched center David Baas head to the sidelines with what has been diagnosed with a sprained knee that could keep him out for a month.

Before the first half was over, wide receiver Victor Cruz (bruised heel) and defensive end Justin Tuck (slightly strained hamstring) also became a cause of concern. All three players will be going for more tests before the team resumes practicing Tuesday.

Let’s review how the Giants did in the three things we told you to watch:

1. The return game. Result: Good. It is very obvious that the coaches want RB Michael Cox to make the team – he’s being given every opportunity to perform on special teams and has shown enough flashes to this point that show he should be on the final 53. He showed much quickness and speed on his early 36-yard kickoff return – by far the best special teams play by either club on the night. On the negative side, Cox got flagged for going out of bounds and not reestablishing himself in play on a kickoff coverage play.

As expected, the Giants are trying to see if somebody can knock wide receiver Reuben Randle off punt return duty. Rookie corner Charles James (1-0 yards off a third-quarter bobble) and veteran corners Laron Scott (2-17) and Jayron Hosley (1-11) were given opportunities to do so – with Hosley’s being the most impressive.

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2. Lost the edge? Result: Very good. The run defense was much improved all around, starting with strong play from defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, middle linebacker Dan Connor and safety Stevie Brown. But we told you to focus on the outside and the Giants did a strong job of pinching the ball carriers into interior traffic.

The Colts were limited to 88 yards on 33 carries, with 12 attempts for 48 yards in the first half. Two of those runs turned into 12- and 14-yard bursts, which means the defense held the Colts to 22 yards on their remaining 10 carries.

In short, Indianapolis did not have much room to run, period. Outside linebacker Jacquain Williams was flying to the ball and staying more disciplined – he looked better than he has all summer.

3. End of the line. Result: Mixed. First-round RT Justin Pugh had many more positive plays than negative plays – which included a sack – in his first pro start.

On the flip side, starter David Diehl struggled – with several minus plays during his first-half action. He got beaten off the edge for a sack and then gave up a near-sack in the same fashion. This was the worst Diehl has looked since training camp started and must be considered a yellow flag, although he’s got at least two more preseason games to show what he can do.

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