Three Things To Watch For in the New York Giants' Final Two Preseason Games

Vinny YeagerCorrespondent IAugust 25, 2009

CHICAGO - AUGUST 22: Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants turns to hand-off during a pre-season game against the Chicago Bears on August 22, 2009 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Giants 17-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

As we have all come to learn, a team's preseason play and record truly means nothing when it comes to the regular season.

Just take the 2008 Detroit Lions, for example. The Lions went undefeated in the preseason, but then went on to have a winless regular season campaign.

On the other hand, there is the New York Giants and their passionate and fierce head coach, Tom Coughlin. Coughlin usually expects his team to play well no matter if it's the Super Bowl or the preseason. 

In the preseason opener, the Giants took on the Carolina Panthers and played a fairly good game. The first-team squads, on both sides of the ball, played well, and the reserves really didn't miss a beat when they entered the game.

The Giants came out of the game with a victory, and more importantly, no injuries that could cause massive panic over Giants nation. The same could not be said this past Saturday night when the Giants took on the Bears in Chicago.

New York looked awful in all phases of the game, and it didn't matter if it was the first-units or the backups. On top of the extremely poor play, Coughlin was not happy with the performance and let his team know about it.

The Giants broke camp at Albany today and have their next game Saturday night against the Jets, followed by a Super Bowl XLII rematch against the Patriots on Sept. 3.

Here are three things to watch for in the Giant's final two preseason games.


1. The Wide Receivers

This past year's offseason was filled with one question: "Who will step up and replace the former No. 1 guy, Plaxico Burress, and trusted veteran, Amani Toomer?"

Giant's GM Jerry Reese got on that quickly when he used the team's first-round pick in this past April's draft on North Carolina wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and one of the third-round picks on 6'6" Ramses Barden.

Both players have had just average camps, even though Barden has opened some eyes and has somewhat out-played Nicks. Yet, Nicks and Barden haven't really showed up in the first two preseason games, and it will be interesting to see if they can adapt to the NFL style of game.

Other than the two draft picks, the Giants have tons of depth at the receiver position, starting with Steve Smith and Domenick Hixon. Smith was sidelined throughout camp but made his debut against the Bears, and Hixon has been a non-factor in the first two games.

Rounding out the depth chart is Sinorice Moss, Mario Manningham, David Tyree, and Derek Hagan. Moss and Manningham are both the same type of receiver and are battling for the third-slot receiver spot.

The battle between Tyree and Hagan is interesting because the winner will most likely see most of his time on special teams, while the other will probably be the odd man out and get cut.


2. The Defensive Line

In the offseason, before free agency hit, the Giants had one of the best defensive lines in the game. Then free agency time came about, and an already loaded defensive line got even better.

The Giants signed defensive tackles Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty from the Seahawks and Cowboys, respectively. Adding them to the mix, along with the Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Barry Cofield, Fred Robbins, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Jay Alford, New York's defensive front four looked unstoppable.

Yet the injury bug has once again hit Giants camp, and it doesn't look very good.

Bernard and Canty, who may be out longer than expected, have been injured throughout all of camp, and it looks like Alford's season may be done after he did some damage to his ACL and MCL in the Bears' game. 

Umenyiora looks fresh coming off of last year's season-ending knee injury, but Robbins and Cofield are both still battling knee injuries of their own.

The area that is supposed to be New York's hot spot on defense must make sure it stays healthy in these next two games, or bad things could come about for the defense as a whole.


3. Eli Manning

It looks as though Manning's fat, new wallet was holding him down a little bit out on the field.

Manning, who is now a part of the $100 million club, has looked sluggish and out of sync with his teammates in the first two games. Nothing has happened in the passing game, resulting in two mediocre offensive performances.

Even though both starting offensive guards, Chris Snee and Rich Seburt, have not played due to injuries, that is no excuse for Manning's poor play. He is a Super Bowl MVP and should be able to be productive, even when everything isn't going perfectly for him.

Before the season opener against the division rival Redskins, Manning better make some solid chemistry with his receiving targets and just learn to trust them. He must get it through his head that Burress and Toomer, his two favorite targets, are now gone, and he has to be able to spread the ball around to a variety of different receivers to be productive.

The Giants cannot just walk through these two final preseason games and must make sure that they get solid productivity from everyone on the field, especially in these three areas.