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Pre-Season Game 1: Giants vs Panthers

Updated: 1:49 PM

New York Giants (0-0) vs Carolina Panthers (0-0)

Saturday, 8 PM, NBC

The New York Giants will open up the 2011 pre-season in Carolina against the Carolina Panthers. The Giants — not the cross-town rival Jets — have been in the one in the news lately. After losing their starting TE Kevin Boss to the Oakland Raiders on a 4-year $16 million deal, they lost QB Eli Manning’s security blanket WR Steve Smith to the “dream team” the Philadelphia Eagles on a 1-year $4 million deal. With the loss of Smith, the Giants need to find a new #3 wide receiver, and a guy who can start at slot receiver. Tonight’s game will help the Giants figure out just exactly who can be that guy. Don’t expect to see much of the starters tonight. There expected to play 15-18 plays. Tonight’s game is about the backups. Who will make an impression? Who will star on special teams? Who is exposed? We find out, tonight!

Players to Watch for the Giants:

Victor Cruz: Last year’s pre-season sensation is hoping to have another marvelous pre-season and not only make the roster, but be that third receiver the Giants are looking for. Many consider Cruz to be the favorite for that spot. Cruz will need to show quickness, speed, consistency and most importantly good hands. Cruz has had trouble snagging in balls during camp, dropping numerous passes. Cruz will leap up and catch a bomb, but then drop an easy pass. If the U-Mass product wants to win the slot receiver spot, he needs to be consistent.

Dominick Hixon: Today’s game against the Panthers will be Hixon’s first game in over a year. Hixon, as you know missed all of last season with a torn ACL. Hixon is the other favorite to win the third receiving position. Hixon is not full go just yet, he still practices every other day, but the Giants are looking for Hixon to show a good burst off the line of scrimmage and to knock some of the rust off.

Darius Reynaud/Jerrel Jernigan: You’d think I’m nuts, but Darius Reynaud has been this year’s training camp surprise. The guy can go up and get a football. He isn’t a very good returner, as you know, but he provides depth at the KR/PR position. Reynaud is on the bubble for a roster spot. If Reynaud can show he adds value as a WR, he might just stick and make the roster. The Giants are looking for Jernigan to gain some experience in the slot and see what the third-round pick can offer in the return game.

Linval Joseph: With the Giants losing DT Barry Cofield to the Redskins, the Giants will need the second-year defensive tackle to step up. Joseph is the early favorite to start alongside Chris Canty this season. Joseph has added muscle to his already large 6-4 330 pound frame. People within the organization have raved about his quickness and explosion off the line. Lets see how he does tonight.

The Battles:

Steve Weatherford vs Matt Dodge: Giants incumbent P Matt Dodge knew he’d have to battle to keep his roster spot. He’s doing just that. Dodge has been battling Weatherford hard in camp. Dodge clearly has the stronger leg, but Weatherford is far more consistent, and that’s what the Giants are looking for, consistency. The game against the Panthers will show us just how much Matt Dodge has improved and if he stands a chance to make the roster. With K Lawrence Tynes having a quad injury, he might not kick off tonight. Dodge might. If he does, tonight would be a prime opportunity for Dodge to give himself more value.

David Carr vs Sage Rosenfels: With David Carr back in the fold, Sage Rosenfels is in trouble. Rosenfels has a $3 million base salary and that could spell trouble. If David Carr beats Rosenfels out, the Giants have no problem cutting him. Rosenfels has looked awful at times in camp. He’s struggled, plain and simple. Tonight’s game is a solid chance for Rosenfels to prove he should be Eli Manning’s backup.

**** It appears QB David Carr will not play tonight, he will play next week. This gives QB Sage Rosenfels a prime chance to gain a lead in the backup QB race. ****

Andre Brown vs Da’rel Scott vs D.J. Ware: The Giants third running back spot, and likely the third down back spot are up for grabs. Andre Brown, the Giants former fourth-round draft pick, is back with the Giants and has looked very good in camp so far. Coughlin likes his quickness and his ability to block. Seventh round pick Da’rel Scott has shown his 4.4 speed, but needs to make up for lost OTA’s on special teams to increase his value. He will get some touches. He must make the most of it. Incumbent third RB D.J. Ware beat out Andre Brown last season. However, Brown was coming off a torn Achilles. Might this time be different? We shall see.

Michael Coe vs Brian Witherspoon vs Brian Jackson: It seems the Giants will need a fourth CB to really secure that position. As of now, the battle will be between Michael Coe and Brian Witherspoon with Brian Jackson missing time injured. He seems to be getting healthy and will challenge for that spot. He might not play against the Panthers, though. With CB Bruce Johnson out for the season with a ruptured Achilles and CB Prince Amukamara out for about two months with a broken bone in his foot, Coe, Witherspoon and Jackson will be asked to step up. Who will win the fourth corner position?

Injury Report: OUT: CB Jim Burnett, WR Sam Giguere, TE Travis Beckum, LB Clin Sintim, S Brian Jackson, C Jim Cordle and DE Osi Umenyiora.

During the regular season, this will be more in-depth. But this is the pre-season so this was abbreviated. For those who are watching the game tonight, enjoy!

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5 Responses to “Pre-Season Game 1: Giants vs Panthers”

  1. Jason C. says:

    I have to say of all the things I’m most excited about seeing Jernigan and Beckum. That and I pray Weatherford outplays Dodge.

  2. JW says:

    Jason C: Agreed. However, Beckum will not be playing today because of tightness in his hamstring. Great!

  3. It will be hard to gauge too much about this offense from the first preseason game, but I have to say I’m curious to see how this passing game responds without Boss and Smith. Boss was a safety blanket for Eli and a huge target in the middle of the field. Smith was incredibly tough for defenses to cover in the slot. These two might not have been superstars, but they were such vital cogs in the Giants’ passing game because they generated first downs. They moved the chains, kept the offense on the field and all the other cliches about converting first downs.

    A good slot receiver is so tough to defend, especially in man to man situations which you often see on 3rd and short and 3rd and medium. The big reason for this is because the slot receiver works in the middle of the field and therefore the defender can’t use the sideline as help. Smith knew how to beat man to man coverage and how to work the middle of the field against man and zone coverage. And Eli and Smith were on the same page often. Along with the loss of Kevin Boss, it’s not crazy to suggest that this passing game could sputter – at least early on this season.

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