Wednesday night’s preseason tilt, a 6-3 Giants’ win, meant nothing in terms of the standings, but it certainly meant a lot to Giants’ wideout Hakeem Nicks.
The fourth-year veteran, who was targeted twice, saw his first real action of the preseason after breaking his foot earlier in the spring and was more than happy to mix it up with the Patriots.
“It felt real good to be out there for the first time this preseason,” said Nicks, who finished with one reception for six yards. “I went out there, got my feet wet and got a couple reps. It was exactly what I needed to know, that I’ll be ready for next week. … No problem with the foot. It felt good, and I’ll be ready to start the season.”
Nicks’s roster spot is obviously safe, but there were plenty of others in blue and white who were also happy to get on the field — especially those on the fringe.
The game itself wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, as neither team got into the end zone, and there were a multitude of miscues. But the main objective of staying healthy, and giving those banged-up starters an extra week off to recuperate, was met.
Quarterback Eli Manning wasn’t exactly thrilled with the first unit, saying it “wasn’t our best performance,” but he was happy to see everyone who played escape injuries as they now focus on the Cowboys.
“We’re all looking forward to starting our season, getting a full week of practice in, and preparing for the Cowboys,” Manning said, adding he’s also happy to have his main target back. “It was great to have Hakeem back out there, get him a catch and get him back in the flow of things. … We all knew he’d be ready next week for Dallas.”
What we learned
1. Roster savers
It may have been a meaningless game in the standings, but for the fringe guys, it was their Super Bowl. Guys who were on the proverbial bubble really made a name for themselves. Wideout Jerrel Jernigan helped his cause by contributing one catch for 25 yards and a kick return for 20 yards. Big Blue’s preseason sack leader, Adewale Ojomo, had another, including the play of the game when he strip-sacked Brian Hoyer. Marcus Thomas recovered at New England’s 17-yard line with 2:27 remaining in regulation. The turnover proved to be the difference, as Lawrence Tynes booted a 32-yard field goal with 1:03 remaining for the eventual game-winning points. Ojomo registered four sacks this preseason. Defensive ends Craig Marshall and Matt Broha weren’t to be outdone, as they tallied 1.5 sacks apiece.
2. Bradshaw’s backups
The running game has been disparaged for the better part of two seasons. Heading into this contest critics wondered if Big Blue would ever get on track. Starter Ahmad Bradshaw (hand) was inactive, but the Giants already know they can depend on the six-year veteran come opening night next Wednesday. But Bradshaw’s absence allowed his backups to get plenty of reps. While primary backup David Wilson didn’t dazzle (13 yards on eight carries), the other understudies showed promise. Da’Rel Scott had nine carries for 32 yards and added an 18-yard reception, while Andre Brown added 14 carries for a team-high 55 yards and added two receptions for 22 yards.
3. Eli Manning put in work
The veteran quarterback played surprisingly long as he led the offense midway into the second quarter. He didn’t do much, going 4-of-8 for just 29 yards, but it was a telling sight to see the franchise signal caller out there deep into a meaningless game — especially when he took a sack midway through the first quarter on the Giants’ second series.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.