The New England Patriots and New York Giants will face off tomorrow for the fourth and final week of the preseason. It’s the final chance for several players to state their case in favor of making the 53-man roster or practice squad, and there are a few situations worth monitoring. I like to take the time before each preseason game to ask five assorted, general questions about the enemy (general in the sense that they are not specifically related to the preseason game) with FanSided’s blogger for that team. Big thanks to Joe Tufaro of GMEN HQ for answering these questions.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines in the second quarter of a preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
1. I’m quite high on the Giants this season, and I actually believe that they will win the NFC East. Most of that is because I am not enamored with any of the defenses in that division, and I really like the upside of the Giants offense with a healthy Hakeem Nicks (big believer in David Wilson). Am I being too optimistic on the Giants and/or underrating the other teams in the division, or are the Giants really the best team of the four?
You would have to believe that a healthy Hakeem, coupled with Victor Cruz, Reuben Randle, Brandon Myers, and Eli could be an explosive offense. David Wilson showed everyone the other night in the Jets game that if he gets a seam, he is gone. They will need to be balanced and the O-line must gel, but it sure seems like they could be the class of the division.
2. How has rookie Jonathan Hankins looked thus far? Does he project to have a significant role on the Giants defense?
Hankins is actually in a tough spot with Cullen Jenkins, Shaun Rogers, Mike Patterson, and Marvin Austin all playing the same position he might find it tough to get a jersey on Sunday. It all depends on his performance this week and what Marvin Austin can show. Austin is fighting the bust label and is looking to make an impact as Mark Sanchez found out Saturday night.
3. Damontre Moore has been quite the story from my perspective, and he’s been the best pass rusher for the Giants this preseason. How successful can he be as a rookie and what are his long term prospects in this league?
Another guy that needs to stay healthy and show how quickly he can learn. JPP, Kiwi, Tuck, Etc. will be his mentors and hopefully take all that raw talent and mold it into another JPP type player. He is recovering from a shoulder injury and has missed a lot of field time, but look for him to contribute on passing downs later in the year. Going forward he will be the bookend to JPP for a while.
4. Is Spencer Paysinger good enough to start as an SLB in this league? I’m looking at the Giants linebackers, and it seems like their best LBs are in the middle? How does this position look for the Giants and does it look like more of a strength or a liability?
I don’t put much weight into the word “Starter” with the Giants. They will play multiple defenses this year depending on opponent, and at any one time can have 4 or only 1 Linebacker on the field. Paysinger, Rivers, and Jaquain Williams will all see time at different positions and in different situations. I think Spencer can hold his own and also be a force on special teams.
5. Should I be looking out for a breakout player this upcoming season? We have a few potential breakout guys in Chandler Jones and Shane Vereen, and so I’m wondering if there are a few guys on the Giants expected to make “the jump” in 2013.
Reuben Randle as I mentioned before could be big for the Giants this year. He came on at the end of last year and is critical in three WR sets. Even if the fantasy numbers don’t show up, he will take coverage away from Nicks and Cruz. Of course we would all like to see Damontre Moore be the breakout guy, but I think it takes a year to get settled in the NFL these days.