The Giants have been in Cincinnati since Monday afternoon, first to engage in joint practices with the Bengals on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then for Friday’s preseason opener.
And while the practice sessions were amicable, Friday night’s contest will likely display a more physical and intense nature, as players from both sides will begin their fight to keep their jobs and stick on the roster.
Naturally, the star players are likely safe from being cut, but that doesn’t mean they’ll go through their limited reps halfheartedly. These are two physical teams who will be looking to impose its will on the other in hopes of coming together in time for the regular season opener.
Metro takes a look at a few storylines to watch as the game progresses.
What to watch for:
1. New York’s first-team offense vs. Cincinnati’s first-team defense.
These are the two strengths of the respective teams. And while there may not be many reps to see from either unit, it’ll still be telling to see how they perform. The Giants had some success during their joint sessions, as second-year running back Andre Williams broke off more than a few solid runs in full-contact drills. Second-year phenom Odell Beckham Jr. was his usual near-unstoppable self, and running back Shane Vereen showed why he’s one of the league’s best receiving options out of the backfield during one-on-one sessions. The maligned offensive line also held its own at times in handling Cincinnati’s vaunted front seven, including nice work from rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers, who was working through a hip flexor injury. There won’t be much work by either starting unit, but if Big Blue holds its own during those few reps, it’ll go a long way in the team’s confidence.
2. A star reborn?
Wideout Corey Washington was last year’s preseason sensation – so much so that some thought he’d take the path of Victor Cruz, who also shined as a preseason unknown years ago and later transformed into one of the league’s stars. Alas, Washington did follow in Cruz’s footsteps, as he went from stellar summer star to a Fall afterthought – much like Cruz did following his breakout rookie preseason. Washington has looked impressive during his battles with Cincinnati’s secondary, as he’s repeatedly made several tough catches in traffic and has been using his big 6-foot-4 frame well. A great start to his preseason would definitely help his cause for staying on the roster for a second-straight season.
3. Can Jayron Hosley and the cast of unknowns pick up the slack for a banged-up secondary?
Third-year cornerback Jayron Hosley has made the switch from primarily a slot defender to an outside defender, meaning he’ll get some chances to cover the Bengals’ star wideout A.J. Green. Hosley has started at corner with Prince Amukamara (groin) and Chykie Brown (knee) not in action this week, meaning he may well start opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. During practices, Hosley saw plenty of time on Green, and wasn’t truly embarrassed by the All-Pro, although he did get beat for a touchdown towards the end of one practice. The point is, he battled all day. That’s encouraging for Big Blue. Hosley won’t be the only relative unknown to get plenty of reps, as Trumaine McBride, Mike Harris, and Trevin Wade will all get their chances. For Hosley, though, this is his chance to make an impression after two disappointing years. The Bengals offense will attack him, too, so if he holds up, it will bode well for his chances of both making the roster and finding a key role.