EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- In their biggest tune-up before the regular season begins, the New York Giants’ starters looked sharp Friday night. But the team lost cornerback Prince Amukamara, likely for several weeks, to a high ankle sprain in what was ultimately a 20-17 loss to the Chicago Bears.
What it means: Well, the Giants’ starters did perform very well. Eli Manning completed 17 of 21 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown.
Rookie running back David Wilson was electric, and wide receiver Ramses Barden had his best outing of the preseason. The defense also looked good, containing Jay Cutler to 7-for-17 passing for 72 yards and one touchdown in the first half. The Giants surrendered just 29 yards rushing in the first half, with 19 coming on an end-around by Devin Hester. The special teams units did well, too.
Royal pain: For the second straight preseason, the Giants had a starting cornerback go down due to injury against the Bears.
Amukamara suffered the high ankle sprain while tackling Brandon Marshall on an eight-yard catch with four minutes remaining in the first quarter. He underwent X-rays, which were negative. A high ankle sprain can take several weeks to recover from.
The injury is a big blow to the defense. Amukamara was going to start in place of the injured Terrell Thomas, who tore his right ACL against the Bears last preseason -- Thomas remains out indefinitely after re-aggravating his ACL injury. With Jayron Hosley (turf toe) also sidelined, the Giants are suddenly hurting at cornerback. The Giants need Hosley back soon. The rookie said he hopes to practice this coming week, but the Giants have to play it safe since turf toe can be a nagging injury.
Michael Coe, Justin Tryon, Bruce Johnson and Brandon Bing all now have an opportunity to seize more playing time. Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka also suffered a strained groin on the final play of the first half.
Fire starter: Wilson got his first start in place of Ahmad Bradshaw, who sat out to rest his bruised hand. And the first-round pick could not have done much better in his debut with the first team.
Wilson gained 49 yards on five carries and had two catches for 26 yards. He had a 20-yard run and a 29-yard reception.
The rookie looked fast, broke tackles, and even showed a physical side, finishing runs with muscle. On the Giants’ second offensive drive of the game, Wilson accounted for 64 yards of total offense.
Barring a setback or an inability to grasp the offense to the coaching staff’s liking, Wilson should be Bradshaw’s primary backup just based on his performance in the preseason. In this game, the Giants brought D.J. Ware in as the third-down back initially behind Wilson, and Andre Brown got some red zone work, scoring a touchdown. Da'Rel Scott had a strong outing as well.
Big Barden: Barden needed a strong showing in the final two preseason games, and he delivered against the Bears with three receptions for 46 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown catch. Barden also drew a pass interference flag on a fade pattern in the end zone.
The 6-foot-6 Barden looked particularly impressive on slant routes, even making an impressive catch while falling forward on a cornerback. Outside of Victor Cruz’s five catches for 28 yards, Barden was the most impressive wide receiver during Manning’s time on the field Friday night.
Special plays: The Giants' special teams units had a stellar evening. Besides terrific punting from Steve Weatherford, the Giants blocked a punt when Scott got a piece of a Ryan Quigley punt. Linebacker Greg Jones recovered at the Bears’ 10-yard line to set up the touchdown run by Brown.
What’s next: The Giants must cut their roster down to 75 on Monday, and then finish the preseason with a reunion with the New England Patriots on Wednesday night at MetLife Stadium.