Giants vs. Panthers: 3 storylines to watch – Metro US

Giants vs. Panthers: 3 storylines to watch

The Giants finally play a game with some meaning, even if it’s actually meaningless in regards to the standings.

Tomorrow’s tilt in Carolina may not mean anything as far as the regular season win-loss column, but it means something to Big Blue in that they’ll get to finally see what they have in terms of talent.

So much focus has been on what the Giants have lost — and what the Eagles have gained — that head coach Tom Coughlin is looking forward to facing the Panthers and finally get the focus back on the playing field. He said practices are needed, but real game action is the real way to evaluate talent.

“Without a doubt [pre-season takes on more importance]. You hit it on the head because we haven’t had any practices to really evaluate,” Coughlin said. “There’s a great chance to play for a lot of guys.”

Coughlin said he has no set amount of plays for the starters, but figures they’ll at least get 15-18 plays or about a full quarter of action. Coughlin added that three of the four quarterbacks will see action [Eli Manning, Sage Rosenfels and David Carr] which means second-year quarterback Ryan Perrilloux will most likely be the odd man out. Perrilloux has impressed the Giants brass though, and Coughlin said whoever doesn’t play, will in the second preseason game.

The Giants have plenty of question marks heading into Saturday night’s game and Coughlin hopes they answer some of them immediately. He said he’s aware of the new faces — and old faces lost — but hasn’t yet decided if he’ll allow the new fill-ins extra work so they can adjust to the gameplan.

“We’ll take into consideration any [new] players and any with [physical] limitations,” he noted. “But more playing time is not necessarily [given to new starters who might need longer to get acclimated] because there are a lot of players to evaluate.”

What to watch for

1. Will Cam Newton show starting ability?

This isn’t about the Giants, but the most interesting storyline may be what we see from No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton.

The defending Heisman Trophy winner and national champion will likely play backup to Jimmy Clausen Saturday, but he’ll get plenty of snaps — including some with the first-team offense.

He will be without Steve Smith, but new Panther Jeremy Shockey will get a chance to play against the team that drafted him.

We’ll have to wait and see how Newton handles playing in a pro-style system.

2. Which receiver takes Steve Smith’s spot?

As of right now it’s Victor Cruz, Domenik Hixon, Michael Clayton, Jerrel Jernigan, Devin Thomas, and Duke Calhoun vying for that vaunted slot receiver position.

And that’s not even counting Ramses Barden, who’s nursing an injury.

All of those guys will be playing a lot of snaps in this game, so we should at least get some idea of who is playing well. It’s a crowded field, but with no tangible leader of the pack, yet.

3. Which of the young linebackers shines?

General manager Jerry Reese has been lambasted for not making a free agent splash at the position.

Outside of weakside linebacker Michael Boley and defensive lineman-turned strongside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, the Giants’ linebackers average just 1.3 years of NFL experience.

Reese said he’s comfortable with what he has at linebacker. Now is the time for the youngsters to reward his faith.

Follow Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 for live updates from Giants training camp.