The Giants head into their third preseason game riding high off the momentum of dismantling the Jets last week. Against the Bears on Friday night the starters will likely see the most playing time of the preseason.
Three things to watch for:
1. David Wilson’s role increasing
Starter Ahmad Bradshaw has been nursing a bruised hand, which has opened the door for Wilson to run with the starters in practice all week. Wilson was admittedly “nervous, very nervous” in the two sessions as the No. 1 tailback. That was just practice, so hopefully by game time the jitters will be gone. Wilson, the team’s first-round pick from Virginia Tech, has shown flashes of that talent in practice and the exhibition games, but has also looked tentative at times. Friday’s game is the “dress rehearsal” game, which means that vaunted Bears defense will be out there for a majority of the game. Now is the time for Wilson to shine.
2. Other receivers need to step up
Victor Cruz will do Victor Cruz things, but Hakeem Nicks (foot) might not even play. That means one of the other non-descript wideouts need to step up and take a hold of the opportunity. The Giants are still looking for their No. 3 receiver and no one has stood out. Veteran Domenik Hixon got the first crack in camp and has been steady but nowhere near as spectacular as the guy he’s trying to replace — Mario Manningham. The shifty and speedy Jerrel Jernigan has big-play potential, but hasn’t separated himself yet. And rookie Rueben Randle has done what most high-round first-year players do — look great at times and lost at others. One of these guys will need to finally earn Eli Manning’s trust.
3. Who among the walking wounded suits up?
The Giants have had at least 12 guys not dress due to injury in each of their first two preseason games, making it difficult to have a set rotation on both sides of the ball. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (back) is out. Left tackle Will Beatty (back) has yet to even practice. Weakside linebacker Michael Boley (hamstring) missed last week’s game and may not play on Friday. Defensive tackle Marvin Austin (back) just can’t seem to stay out of the trainer’s room. Cornerback Terrell Thomas (knee) continues to be a question mark. And even key reserves like cornerbacks Jayron Hosley (foot) and Michael Coe (hamstring) continue to be hit-or-miss during practice sessions. Every team suffers through camp ailments, but it just seems like the past two preseasons have been particularly tough on Big Blue.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.