Eli Manning had another long face after Thursday's preseason finale. Credit: Getty Images
The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track in the preseason finale against the Patriots.
That didn’t happen, but at least the Giants ended the preseason unbeaten (5-0), for whatever that’s worth.
Three things we learned ...
1. Starting to worry
Giants fans were treated to a rarity — starters playing significant snaps in a preseason finale. But quarterback Eli Manning didn’t treat the faithful to much – which has become customary this offseason – as he went just 1-of-4 for zero yards in two series (eight total plays). Manning’s fellow starters didn’t fare much better, as wideout Victor Cruz didn’t register a catch and tight end Kellen Davis had one catch for zero yards. Running back Rashad Jennings was about the only adequate Big Blue starter, as he notched 20 yards on eight carries. It looks like the extra preseason game and reps didn’t do the new-look Giants offense any good.
“Well, I thought we had a good week of practice,” Manning said. “We didn’t get much going tonight, but we’re getting ready for Detroit [in Week 1]. We got the starters out healthy, so that’s always the most important thing.”
2. Feeling defensive
The Patriots, meanwhile, weren’t too keen on playing their starters as quarterback Tom Brady didn’t play, clearing the path for prized rookie Jimmy Garoppolo. As a matter of fact, no New England starters saw the field. As for Garoppolo, the former Eastern Illinois star acquitted himself nicely going 11-of-19 for 163 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He played the entire game and finished 22-of-42 for 284 yards. He did get intercepted once by cornerback Zack Bowman (actually twice, but the first interception was nullified by a defensive penalty) and was sacked by defensive tackle Mike Patterson. Bowman got a lot of reps thanks to Prince Amukamara sitting out for precautionary reasons with a groin injury. Walter Thurmond got the start for Amukamara.
Veteran safety Antrel Rolle said he was fairly impressed with a starting unit yielded just 10 points in the first half.
“I felt our final tune up was fairly decent,” Rolle said. “I think we went out there and we stopped them from getting big plays [and] stopped them from actually moving the ball down the field. I think we made the best of our opportunities and capitalized on a lot of them. ... Dominique Rogers-Cromartie made two great pass break ups [and] Walter Thurmond [had] another great pass break up. Overall I think it has been very good.”
3. On the plus side
There were some positives for Big Blue that may not go noticed by the casual fan, as unsung tight end Larry Donnell (four catches for 60 yards), rookie running back Andre Williams (five carries for 44 yards), rookie linebacker Devon Kennard (four solo tackles), guard John Jerry (two key blocks on Peyton Hillis’s touchdown run) and backup quarterback Ryan Nassib (6-of-14 for 107 yards) all produced nicely. All will survive Saturday’s final cut-down date to the 53-man roster. And Nassib, specifically, might’ve helped his cause the most this summer as he likely did more than enough to be Manning’s backup.
Big Blue notes ...
The Giants sat a handful of noticeable names, including linebacker Mark Herzlich (shoulder), wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) and Trindon Holliday (hamstring), Amukamara (groin), offensive tackles Charles Brown (shoulder) and James Brewer (back), guards Geoff Schwartz (toe) and Brandon Mosley (back), and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (ankle).
- Fullback Henry Hynoski was kept out with a sprained shoulder he sustained late in the third quarter. Hynoski had a shoulder injury last season as well and if considered serious, the severity of it could be the determining factor in the fullback competition.
- Manning’s summer of ineptitude ends with him playing five games and going 20-of-41 for 188 yards and a touchdown. It looks like he’s a far cry from getting into a rhythm so he can attain that 70-percent completion rate.
- Manning’s summer wasn’t as bad as Mario Manningham’s, though, as it appears the wideout’s bubble will burst. Already entering Thursday’s game on the fringe, the former Super Bowl hero might’ve sealed his fate in the third quarter when he was taken out of the game for good with a calf injury.
- The Giants were unbeaten for the first time in the preseason since 2006 and 5-0 for the first time since 1985.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter@TBone8.