Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 8/8/12
The New York Giants will play their first preseason game this Friday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars. A lot is expected from the defending Super Bowl Champions as they will have many spots open for competition on both sides of the ball. With the injury bug already affecting key players on the Giants with Terrell Thomas, Hakeem Nicks and Chris Canty, this will be an opportunity for many players to show the coaching staff that they are ready to contribute to the team’s success.

Although this is the first preseason game and, in most cases, not much is expected from the starters there will be many players in camp who will be auditioning for a roster spot and whileI am interested in watching a lot of the rookies, second-year players, free agents, or just players who have underachieved thus far. I will focus on watching the following five players particularly carefully to see how well they play.

Marvin Austin (DT): This second year player is finally healthy and ready to showcase his talents. With Chris Canty currently on PUP, this is a big opportunity for Austin to show the coaching staff and also himself what he can do.

Thus far, Austin has impressed defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, who said, “I was so pleased with what I saw in one practice, that in the meeting the next morning I singled out Austin for the way he was pursuing a play." Fewell also added, “We’re just praying he can stay healthy because he is a talent.’’ Austin will see a lot of action in these four preseason games with the hope that he can be part of a rotation with Canty (once he returns), Joseph, and possibly Rogers, at the DT position.

Ramses Barden (WR): Entering his fourth season as a New York Giant, Barden’s playing-time has been limited (17 games and only 15 receptions). Despite the loss of Mario Manningham, the Giants have depth at the WR position and many believe that this could be Barden’s last chance to impress.

Typically, most NFL teams carry six WRs on the roster with also a couple more sprinkled in on special teams. Unfortunately for Barden, he has no special teams ability and is basically just a wideout. This creates a problem for him as players such as Domenik Hixon, Jerrel Jernigan, Isaiah Stanback, Dan DePalma, Brandon Collins, and David Douglas have either outshined Barden at receiver or are distinguishing themselves on special teams. The Giants will give Barden a hard look and every opportunity to make this club.

Will Hill (SS):The unsigned free agent is having himself a super camp sofar and many of the Giants' coaching staff are taking notice. Hill is getting a lot of reps with the first team and also with the second team. Hillhas been used in various spots in the secondary, especially in the box, and today he covered the slot receivers and tight ends quite a bit. He may very well play a big role for the Giants’ defense this year, especially with Terrell Thomas injuring his knee.

Mark Herzlich (MLB) Second-year player Mark Herzlich is making some noise at the MLB position and linebackers coach Jim Herrmann couldn’t be happier. Herrmann said, “Mark has worked real hard thus far in training camp and a lot has to do with his preparation in the offseason. There has been days thus far that Mark has outplayed Chase Blackburn at the middle linebacker position.” When asked if Herzlich could replace Blackburn at the MLB spot, Herrmann added, “It’s too early to make that call, but if he continues to impress, we will have to find playing time for him."

Joe Martinek (FB/RB):This free agent out of Rutgers University has made an impression on not only the entire coaching staff, but on the players as well. Running backs coach Jerald Ingram commented, “Joe has versatility in his game that we like. He can line up at the fullback or running back position and be an added weapon in our offense." Martinek’s overall game has a blue-collar mentality; which works well with the Giants possible gameplan for utilizing him.

Martinek’s biggest competition could, and should, be DJ Ware, who has not lived up to expectations so far. If Ware struggles early and Martinek gets the opportunity to make some plays, then Ware could be looking for a new address to play football this season.

The first preseason game should give us an indication of how much playing time these five players will see the rest of the preseason. They all will be given a fair chance to make the 53 man roster. II I had to guess which one of the five could find himself on the bubble and ultimately on the outside looking in; I would have to say Ramses Barden.

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