Remember when Victor Cruz was a big part of the Giants offense? Credit: Getty Images
The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.
First and foremost, the Giants will be looking to get something — anything — from their first-team offense. The passing game, especially, has been a disaster so far. You can never take too much from preseason. After all, the Lions were 4-0 in preseason in 2008. They went 0-16 during the regular season.
But with the final preseason game next week unlikely to feature starters, this is the last chance for the Giants to prove they are ready to start the season. Nobody wants to lay an egg in prime time on Monday Night Football in Week 1.
Metro looks at three storylines to watch as the Giants take on the Jets Friday (7:30 p.m., CBS2).
1. Show time
The Giants have installed a true offensive game plan and will play Eli Manning and the first-team offense into the third quarter. If the offense doesn't show up this time, the panic can begin. The only success the first-team offense has had was two games ago when Rashad Jennings broke off a 73-yard touchdown. The passing game has been nonexistent. Manning is 6-of-9 for 43 yards, zero touchdowns and has been sacked twice and fumbled once. Starting wide receivers Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle have been completely uninvolved in the offense as well. The Giants don't even have to look perfect in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's West Coast scheme, they just have to do something. Even putting together one solid drive would ease a lot of the tension among Giants fans.
2. Tight battle
One of the few camp battles without a leader emerging is at tight end. The Giants have an assortment of young players and also-rans trying to fill the role vacated by Brandon Myers. Larry Donnell is still listed as the starter, but he has just three catches for 26 yards in the preseason. He's shown himself to be much more of a blocker than a pass catcher. McAdoo's offense is perfect for a receiving tight end, like Jermichael Finley in Green Bay. The answer on the Giants' roster appears to be not Donnell or veteran Daniel Fells, but third-year pro Adrien Robinson. The athletic Robinson had two catches for 59 yards on the Giants' final drive against the Colts and looked good doing it. Head coach Tom Coughlin admitted Wednesday the clutch performance will earn Robinson more playing time Friday.
3. General Washington
Coughlin not-so-subtly laid down the law to his starters Wednesday: If you don't perform, I will play the guys behind you. One of the most exciting things we see on Friday is wide receiver Corey Washington getting some playing time with the first-team offense. Washington is looking like a deadly red-zone weapon with his 6-foot-4 frame and jump ball skills. He doesn't have the refined skills of an all-around receiver, but there's no question he has the playground football skills of the kid who always says "Just throw it up." He will catch it. Can he still manhandle cornerbacks with extensive NFL experience, as opposed to third-stringers? Well that's what will be so exciting to see against the Jets, even if their cornerback group is severely limited due to injuries.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter@MetroNYSports.