No team goes in looking to lose, not even in preseason football. But the outcome of the game aside, both the Giants and Jets have players to keep your eyes on. While there will be battles at multiple positions, we will focus on three individuals to keep your eyes on for both teams. It is safe to assume you can name at least one from each team, so I will try not to go with the obvious choices…at least not all of them
First, let’s go over the players to watch for the New York football Giants. While every other media outlet is focusing on the Jets, we will give the champs their due, just this once.
RB David Wilson
Wilson had a great first appearance for Big Blue as we covered last week. Wilson finished with 43 yards on 7 carries and also added a 48 yard kickoff return. Wilson has shown excellent speed and acceleration in our limited look at him. The Giants hope that continues against Gang Green. Starter Ahmad Bradshaw roll is not in jeopardy, but if he cannot keep the ball away from the other team, as he has in the past, snaps will be easy to lose to Wilson.
As with any other rookie running back, Wilson’s ability to pick up the blitz and protect the quarterback will be an important assignment. With reports coming out of Giants camp that he was having some trouble with the playbook, this might be the only thing that could keep him off the field.
MLB Mark Herzlich
Second year linebacker Mark Herzlich has made himself a contender to get the starting job over incumbent Chase Blackburn. The two have been performing well in camp and even though Blackburn has the edge, that could change by week one. Herzlich is quick and plays the run extremely well. But what Herzlich has in athleticism, Blackburn makes up for with experience. It will be interesting to see how many plays each man gets with the first team defense.
OT Sean Locklear
Tackle Will Beatty is again dealing with a back injury, and we don’t have a good idea as to when he will return. Locklear has played right tackle almost exclusively in his NFL career. Locklear is more of a pass blocker than run blocker, so he must improve in that area. If Beatty is out for an extended period of time, Locklear must step up or the line might have to be shuffled again moving David Diehl possibly back to left tackle. That is something the Giants would rather not have to do.
Could we really start anywhere else? Even if we named two other players first, the fact remains the biggest story in Jets camp is, and will continue to be, Tim Tebow. Unless the Jets make a splash with a player such as Jeff Demps via free agency, or somehow pry Harvin from the Vikings, Tebow is the only big play threat. Mark Sanchez is in what looks like a lose-lose situation. He will have to start out against the best pass rushing team in the league. And even if he is successful, Tebow figures to get a ton of time against the reserves for the Giants. Rex Ryan is looking for the first team to play almost the entire first half, so Sanchez will get his chance to impress.
The third year running back out of USC, Joe McKnight, has some competition this year in the form of second year Bilal Powell. Powel has been very impressive in camp and has the coaches talking. While Powell is not a burner, he seems to be doing just about everything well. While he did not get many shots last year, having only 21 yards on 13 attempts last year, Coach Ryan has given him some praise, especially earl in camp.
The entire offensive line
We can’t really talk about one member without mentioning the group. None of them have been extremely impressive. Going back to last year, the major problem with the offense has been the line play. After a decent beginning to his career, D’Brickashaw Ferguson did not have a good 2011. Couple the terrible play of Wayne Hunter, inconsistency of Matt Slauson and up and down play of Brandon Moore, the line has a way to go if they are going to give Sanchez any hope. The line will show us at least a little if they can keep the ferocious front four out of the backfield. They will likely see a base, vanilla defense though, so even a good game may not tell us how the regular season will go.
Follow Ralph Guerrero on Twitter @ralphguerrero