The New York Giants will be the last NFC East team to kick off the 2013 preseason when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Saturday night. To get you primed for that matchup, here are some things we'll be keeping a close eye on...
1. Top three draft picks can make an impact
Rookies rarely start on this team. It's not how Tom Coughlin usually rolls. But this year, things could be a little different. The Giants lost so many parts in the offseason that this might be the best year yet for rookies to make pushes for significant playing time in New York.
It helps that the G-Men spent their first three picks on prospects who could have the ability to contribute from the get-go. First-round selection Justin Pugh will have his first chance to make a statement and claim the starting right tackle spot Saturday night, while second- and third-round picks Johnathan Hankins and Damontre Moore—both of whom have been impressive thus far—will surely be part of the rotation along that thinned out defensive line.
2. Has David Wilson become a better all-around back?
If the 2012 first-round pick is going to become the regular starter, he'll have to prove that he's better at blocking and picking up blitzes than he was as a rookie who found himself in and out of Coughlin's doghouse.
In March, Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger reported that Wilson put on some weight as part of an ongoing effort to improve his pass-protection skills. We'll begin to get a feel for how much that has helped when he starts against the Steelers.
3. New-look linebacking corps makes its debut
Keith Rivers, Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams were all on the roster last year, but none were regular starters. This year, with Michael Boley and Chase Blackburn gone and Mathias Kiwanuka putting his hand back in the dirt, all four will have chances to earn regular starting roles.
There's been word that Justin Tuck might start gaining some reps standing up, but Tuck's dealing with back problems right now, so it'll be those four, along with Dan Connor and Aaron Curry, getting the brunt of the work Saturday.
The Giants desperately need some of these guys to bust out.
4. Another year, another starting tight end
They went from Kevin Boss to Jake Ballard to Martellus Bennett and now they've landed on Brandon Myers, who put up stellar receiving numbers last year in Oakland but isn't considered to be a top-notch blocker.
That's concerning when you consider that they're also going from Ahmad Bradshaw (a superb blocker) to Wilson. But the good news is that quarterback Eli Manning seems to be very happy with Myers thus far. We'll be watching to make sure he's doing the little things right against the Steelers.