~ ~ Several Giants sat out practice and likely will not play against the Jets on Saturday. That list includes linebacker Michael Boley (knee), linebacker Jacquian Williams (hip), left tackle Will Beatty (back), cornerback Michael Coe (hamstring), defensive tackles Marvin Austin (back) and Chris Canty (knee) and tight end Travis Beckum (knee).Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (toe) did do some light individual drills in practice. He will not play Saturday but may participate in full practice on Monday.
It was largely a scout team cards practice as the Giants prepared for the Jets, so there wasn't much to really write about. But here are some quick observations :
• The Giants did prep work for Tim Tebow. Coaches yelled, "Tebow is in the game," on certain plays and had backup quarterback Ryan Perrilloux run quarterback keepers at times.
• Sean Locklear lined up at left tackle with the starters with Beatty out. Keith Rivers worked at outside linebacker with the first team defense as well.
• Wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan had a few catches during a two-minute drill. WR David Douglas gets an A+ for effort when he dove and bobbled a catch. It was hard to see whether it was a catch or not as he fell to the ground but he definitely gets credit for the effort on what would have been a circus-like catch.
• Just before the end of practice, the Giants had their biggest skirmish to date when S Tyler Sash and TE Bear Pascoe had to be ripped apart. It appeared Sash tackled Pascoe after the play was over and in a non-contact practice. But once the two were separated, all was fine.
Eight months later, Victor Cruz still is running in the minds of the Jets. OK, enough torture. Let's focus on Saturday night, the 44th preseason meeting between the Jets and Giants and the second annual MetLife Bowl.It's a Jets home game, which means we need to start with a logo update: No, they're not planning to pull a repeat of last Christmas Eve, when they covered the Giants' Super Bowl logos on the wall outside their locker room -- an ill-advised move that angered the Giants and sparked a pregame controversy.
From a Jets perspective, focus on these issues, not the scoreboard :
1. Tebow-Mania debuts on Broadway : Well, not Broadway, but you get the idea. This will be Tim Tebow's first game in front of the home crowd, which should keep the fans in the seats into the fourth quarter. Tebow and the backups probably will take over at the start of the second half, but he will make a cameo in the first half as the personal protector on the punt team and, perhaps, in the Wildcat. Would they unveil the Wildcat after all the ridiculous paranoia that surrounded "Operation: Clandestine Cortland"? Probably not, but they practiced all those plays this week for a reason. As a conventional QB, Tebow will look to rebound after a tough opener.
2. In search of the end zone : The Jets are one of six teams that haven't scored an offensive touchdown this preseason. Look, no one is panicking around the Jets, but it's important to create confidence-building moments when installing a new system. They didn't game-plan for the Giants, and Tony Sparano plans to keep the play calls fairly vanilla, but that doesn't preclude them from, like, you know, moving the ball and scoring.It'll be hard to pass because the banged-up receiving corps could be down four players, including Santonio Holmes, but they should be able to establish a running game. In the opener, the Mark Sanchez-led starting unit managed only 20 net yards on 14 plays. If Sanchez & Co. can put together one substantial touchdown drive, it can walk away feeling better about the direction of the offense.
3. Protecting Sanchez : It has to be better than last week, right? Not necessarily. The Giants will threaten the edges with all that pass-rushing ability at defensive end. RT Wayne Hunter, who sat out last week with a stiff back, makes his preseason debut. He was last seen on the field getting after Holmes in Miami. This time, Hunter will be in the spotlight for a different reason. He needs to take a positive step, providing evidence to the organization he's a better player than a year ago.The Jets will stick to basic protection schemes. They want the linemen to gain trust in Sparano's schemes before they get into specific game-planning. Last week was rough. In only nine drop-backs, Sanchez was sacked twice and flushed once from the pocket.
4. A show of hands : If the Jets want to pull the trigger for a veteran receiver, they'll have to do it soon. That's why this game is critical in the evaluation process. With Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens and, possibly, rookie Jordan White out, GM Mike Tannenbaum will get a good look at rookie Stephen Hill, Patrick Turner and the other kids. This is a big game for Hill, who had a third-down drop last week. They think Hill had first-round talent coming out of Georgia Tech. If he rebounds from last week, it'll allow team brass to feel better about the situation.
5. Q's rating. Rookie DE Quinton Coples was terrific last week in his debut, but now we're hearing coaches and players say the No. 1 pick needs to show more intensity in practice. That was the question that dogged him coming out of North Carolina. Very few players in the NFL have the talent to blow off practice and turn it on for game day. We'll learn more about Coples in this game. He should get more work with the starting packages, a better test than last week in Cincinnati, where he produced mostly against backups.
if you live within 100 miles of where I live, you're well aware that the New York Giants' preseason game Saturday is against the New York Jets. They play every year in preseason, which is sensible because it eliminates a trip for each of them. But this year, I don't know if you've heard, the Jets have Tim Tebow on their team. Yeah, I know. It's hard to find any information about it. I had to dig and dig.Anyway, as a result of the foolish acquisition of Tebow to cast a massive, undeserving shadow over their already-insecure young starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez, the Jets have become a full-blown circus this offseason. Every move Tebow makes, shirtless or otherwise, is the topic of relentless debate. The media have been charting and reporting on each throw Tebow and Sanchez have made during training camp practices, in spite of the team's denial that they're in a competition with each other. The public appetite for Tebow is insatiable -- he's a ratings-driver and a page-views-driver -- and so the coverage has consumed the Jets' preparations for their 2012 season. We all knew it would. The Jets were either too ignorant to believe it, or too arrogant to care.Either way, my point here on the NFC East blog about all of this is that one look at what the Jets are going through should make the Giants and their fans grateful for Eli Manning. Sure, his two Super Bowl titles have made them grateful enough already, but the Giants' proximity to the Jets' situation underlines the dramatic difference between the peace of mind Manning offers the Giants, and the sheer insanity that can envelop your franchise when you're unsettled at quarterback.
We've discussed this many times. If you get your quarterback situation right, you are set up. You're a perennial playoff team and, if the guy's got the right stuff, a championship contender. If you get quarterback wrong, you're flailing. Nothing else seems to work. You can't get your feet set and run the rest of your organization, because the most important part of it is a question mark.The Giants have Manning, a former No. 1 overall pick who's been everything they could have imagined and more. The Jets have Sanchez, who was the No. 5 pick in the draft and has actually had some success at the NFL level, but they've mismanaged him horribly. After reaching the AFC Championship Game in each of his first two seasons, Sanchez saw his team allow his offensive line, running game and wide receiving corps to erode. Then, when blame for a disappointing third season was falling on his shoulders, they brought in a backup quarterback whose cult following is intense enough to make him the focal point of a team whether he's playing or not.So as a result either of Sanchez not being as good as they'd hoped or their own mismanagement of him, the Jets have a murky mess at quarterback. And as a result of Manning being everything they'd hoped and their own development of him and the group around him, the Giants have one of the most solid and reliable quarterbacks in the league. It really can be that simple. And when you watch the Giants and the Jets play Saturday, if you're a Giants fan, you're going to be looking at Tebow and Sanchez and thinking, "I'm glad that's not my team." It's worth looking at Manning as the reason you're glad the Giants are.