Giants vs. Patriots: 3 things to watch

Hakeem Nicks.
GETTY IMAGES

The Giants wrap up their preseason with Wednesday night’s finale in their annual exhibition matchup with the Patriots. The starters on both sides of the ball will see little to no action, if even at all, so evaluation of the fringe players will be at a premium, as Friday’s final cut day looms.
 
Three things to watch for
  
1. The possible return of Hakeem Nicks

The veteran wideout is still working his way back into playing shape and has been lobbying head coach Tom Coughlin to see some action. Nicks, who’s returning from a broken foot, said he’d rather get real game action, in preparation for next week’s opener against the Cowboys, instead of the comfy and restricted confines of a non-contact practice.  

2. Cornerback depth

Injuries (Prince Amukamara’s ankle, Jayron Hosley’s toe, Tyler Sash’s ankle and Terrell Thomas’s knee) and roster cuts (Antwaun Molden, Brandon Bing and Chris Horton) have cut into the depth of the secondary unit. Starter Corey Webster won’t see much action either, so Big Blue will be taking a long look at who can contribute. Look for veterans like Michael Coe and Bruce Johnson to get considerable playing time and be tested by a Patriots’ receiving corps that can go as many as nine deep.   

3. Seizing the opportunity

There may be a plethora of banged-up players that we’ll only see in street clothes on Wednesday, so for those filling in, it’s their time to shine. If Nicks can’t go, look for players like Ramses Barden, Jerrel Jernigan, Domenik Hixon and even camp standout David Douglas to get long looks to see if they can either be a viable third wideout or even an admirable stop-gap in Nicks’s absence.

Linebackers Michael Boley (hamstring) and Mathias Kiwanuka (groin) will likely sit out, meaning guys like Keith Rivers, Jacquian Williams, Greg Jones, Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich will all get a considerable amount of snaps. Defensive linemen Justin Tuck (shoulder), Osi Umenyiora (knee) and Jason Pierre-Paul (back) may also get extended rest, so that means guys like Adewale Ojomo and Adrian Tracy — who’ve each had productive summers — could further impress the coaching staff.


Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter
@TBone8 for breaking news from Big Blue.



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