The Giants enter Friday’s preseason opener in Jacksonville with a handful of concerns – mostly of the injury variety – due to as many as 12 guys likely being out against the Jaguars.
Key guys include cornerback Terrell Thomas (knee), linebacker Michael Boley (hamstring), and left offensive tackle Will Beatty (back). Big Blue wasn’t likely going to play any of the aforementioned starters more than a series or two anyway, but it would’ve been nice to at least see some action from them.
3 things to watch
1. Who’s on the corner?
As Thomas rehabs his “tweaked” ACL, that leaves a hole in the secondary. This won’t be the first time the Giants can’t rely on Thomas, however, as he also tore the same ACL in last year’s preseason. Big Blue should be used to this adversity, as last year featured as many as nine players on injured reserve before the calendar turned to November. At least this time, the Giants will have the services of 2011 first-round pick Prince Amukamara to soften the blow.
Amukamara is also working his way back from injury, due to a broken bone that cost him almost two-thirds of last season, but seems to be rounding into form again. It’ll be an intense battle at the cornerback position opposite Corey Webster. Amukamara will likely get the start on Friday, but he’ll platoon through camp against veterans Michael Coe, Antwaun Molden and Justin Tryon and rookie Jayron Hosely, while Thomas mends.
2. Who has Eli Manning’s back?
As Beattie recuperates from a myriad of maladies, including his cumbersome back and a detached retina, it has caused some lineup shifting on the offensive line. Beatty had an MRI on Saturday and hasn’t practiced all week, but claims he’ll be fine as camp progresses. But as of right now, the left tackle spot is not fine and the Giants need to come up with a Plan B. Last year when Beatty missed the second half of the season, the Giants simply moved customary left guard David Diehl to the spot. But now that right tackle Kareem McKenzie is no longer with the team — Diehl slid into that vacated spot — someone else will likely have to man Beatty’s spot.
The candidates, including James Brewer, Matt McCants, Sean Locklear and Joel Reinders, might not thrill Giants fans but the offensive line should be fine in the short-term, as the Jaguars defense lacks bite.
3. Who’s playing catch with Manning?
Victor Cruz obviously has a stranglehold on one starting wideout position, but the other is temporarily up for grabs due to the absence of Hakeem Nicks (foot). Nicks should be ready by the opener but in the meantime, the Giants will need a fill-in. The list includes veterans Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden and Jerrel Jernigan and rookie Rueben Randle. Jernigan, who has mostly been thought of as simply a return specialist, is currently listed as the starter opposite Cruz, but the second-year player has little experience in that role. Should Jernigan get first crack, he’ll definitely get pushed by the veterans and Randle. But keep an eye on this year’s unsung training camp highlight filmmaker David Douglas, who has the flair to go from afterthought to contributor and put himself on the map versus the Jags.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 for news throughout the preseason.