Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said after Monday’s practice he was “strongly inclined” to play his starters a little bit in Thursday night’s preseason finale in New England. But following Tuesday’s session, the coach gave it further thought and deemed that his regulars will see at least 12-15 snaps against the Patriots, no matter what happens.
That’s the choice that needs to be made, said Coughlin, considering the Giants’ offense has sputtered in the preseason. The first-team offense is 0-for-7 in the red zone and has scored two touchdowns — and both of those came on long plays instead of sustained drives. The first touchdown was an Eli Manning to Victor Cruz 57-yard catch and run in the opener, while the second score came on Big Blue’s opening offensive play against the Jets last week when running back David Wilson scampered 84 yards.
Neither type of play can be counted on as a regular occurrence for the Giants, which is why Coughlin is counting on longer and sustainable drives against a Patriots team that may rest their regulars.
And while Coughlin won’t pull a Rex Ryan and leave important players to play deep into the game, no matter what the outcome of those 12-15 plays are, he noted he’d like to see more progress than in recent weeks.
“I’d like to see some continuity and some execution, some performance,” Coughlin said. “I’d like to see us get the ball in the end zone [and] see us do well on third down. I’d like to see our passing game with our protection look like some type of an efficient operation. ... I’d like to see progress. That’s really what I would like to see.”
Manning, who will give way to rookie Ryan Nassib once his time is up, agreed that the first-team unit needs the extra little time to effectively enter the regular season on some sort of roll.
“We’ve got to play better," Manning said. “We’ve got to do better in the red zone and converting third downs. There is room for improvement.”
Wilson has used words like “frustrated” and “scary” when discussing the inefficiency of the Giants offense. And while those are accurate words to describe Big Blue’s current offensive plight, Coughlin feels that things aren’t as bad as they seem, simply because of the reshuffling the offensive line has undergone in a short period of time.
“It’s a work in progress, there’s no question about it. It’ll be a work in progress when we get ready to play the first [regular-season] game. It’s just been one of those [summers],” Coughlin said. "We’re trying to get 11 guys to work together, [and that] has not been easy. [But] there is, I hope, a silver lining in that lots of people have played, [gained] lots of experience, [and] lots of guys have been in positions of flexibility. ... So we’ve had some things we could see, and I’m hoping that becomes a good thing. I see things that I like, and I see things that I don’t like, and I see things that have to happen, and have to move along.”
Big Blue notes ...
» The Giants are still unsure if they’ll allow rookie defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder) to play on Thursday.
» Rookie safety Cooper Taylor should get his first game reps on Thursday after missing most of camp due to hamstring issues.
» Cornerback Terrell Thomas has been working with the first-team nickel package (five defensive backs) even as starter Corey Webster has returned to practice.
» The revamped offensive line was the same Tuesday as it was on Monday: Will Beatty at left tackle, James Brewer at left guard, Kevin Boothe at center, Chris Snee at right guard and rookie first-round pick Justin Pugh at right tackle.
» Coughlin said veterans David Carr, who didn’t play last week, and Curtis Painter, who immediately followed Manning in the Jets’ game, will work in that order once Manning and Nassib have played.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.