After the injury issues of the past two years (not to mention this offseason), the last thing the New York Giants needed was to get a bunch of guys hurt in their first preseason game. But rookie safeties Landon Collins and Mykkele Thompson and cornerbacks Trumaine McBride and Jayron Hosley all left Friday night's game with injuries before halftime, leaving the Giants even thinner at a couple of positions where they already had depth issues.
Here are some quick thoughts on the Giants' 23-10 exhibition loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati:
QB depth chart: There are few things as certain as the Giants' quarterback depth chart. Starter Eli Manning played the first four series -- more than planned, but that was only because they failed to get a first down on any of the first three. Under intense pressure from the Bengals' front, Manning was 4-for-8 for 22 yards and couldn't get the offense going. Backup Ryan Nassib took over and played through the third quarter, completing 8-of-18 passes for 79 yards. Ricky Stanzi is no threat to Nassib as the backup.
Maybe that dude could start: Kerry Wynn was actually listed as a starting defensive end last week on the Giants' initial 2015 depth chart. But if you were wondering why, you saw it in this game. Giants coaches say Wynn plays stronger and faster in games than he does in practice, and he was extremely active against the passing game and the run game Friday. Both starting defensive end spots are up for grabs, and Wynn -- an undrafted player who made the team as a surprise last August and got into a few games late last season -- is a solid all-around helper who doesn't give up on plays.
Who got hurt?: Collins injured his left knee on the first defensive series of the game. He returned briefly but couldn't keep going. X-rays were negative, but Collins is likely bound for an MRI on Saturday. Thompson was carted off with an Achilles injury that sounds as though it could be serious. McBride, the leading candidate for the nickel corner spot, has a hamstring injury and could go for tests Saturday as well. Hosley seemed shaken up after making a hit and was being evaluated for a neck injury and a concussion.
Surprise performer: Running back Orleans Darkwa gained 52 yards on nine carries, showing good burst through the line and plunging in for the Giants' first touchdown of the game. He also showed something in blitz pickup in the second half, and that could help his case if there's an extra running back spot when the final cuts are made early next month.
Rookie watch: Ereck Flowers, who's filling in at left tackle while starter Will Beatty is out for the next few months, got whistled for a face mask penalty on the third offensive series of the game. Otherwise, he didn't appear to do anything egregiously wrong, but the offensive line as a whole struggled to keep the Bengals out of the backfield. Third-rounder Owa Odighizuwa got some situational snaps on defense as the Giants work to bring him along. Collins and Thompson got hurt. Undrafted running back Akeem Hunt ripped off a 70-yard kickoff return.
When it was starters vs. starters...: The offensive line looked overmatched. Especially the right side, where John Jerry is playing guard and Marshall Newhouse is playing tackle, the Giants were no match for Carlos Dunlap and the Bengals' fearsome front line. A line can take a while to come together, and this one is relatively new and has dealt with injuries all offseason. But the first test against a real opponent didn't inspire much hope.
One reason to freak out: The fact that the injuries were in the secondary, where the Giants really can't afford them. Even as a rookie, Collins has looked like the surest bet to start at one of the safety spots. And while Thompson was a long shot to start, he's shown a few things in camp and has looked like someone who could at least play a role. Bennett Jackson and Jeromy Miles would be the projected starters if Collins has to miss time, but Jackson is also a candidate for the nickel corner spot if McBride is hurt. Oh, and corners Prince Amukamara (groin) and Chykie Brown (knee) were already ruled out pregame with their injuries.
Under-the-radar defensive helpers: Cornerback Trevin Wade got beaten deep for a long pass play in the third quarter but had a solid game otherwise with a couple of pass breakups and a fourth-quarter interception. Linebacker Uani Unga was active and could be Jon Beason's backup at middle linebacker while Jameel McClain is out indefinitely with a neck injury.
What will annoy Tom Coughlin: The Giants gave up a league-worst 4.9 yards per carry to opponents in the ground game last season. Friday night, they allowed 225 rushing yards on 42 carries -- an average of 5.4 yards per carry. No, preseason stats and results don't matter. But the Giants' coaches would certainly like to be able to point to some success in run defense, and they'll have a hard time doing that after this one.