You don't want to read too much into a preseason game, but Perry Fewell's unit looked pretty solid in the New York Giants' 24-17 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Perhaps inspired by his starting role, defensive end Osi Umenyiora was dominant against the run. Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka teamed up to cause some big-time minus plays against the Steelers' first-team offense.
Here are my quick-hit observations from Saturday's rumble in New Meadowlands Stadium:
I don't think the final numbers for quarterback Rhett Bomar -- 13-of-26 for 167 yards -- tell the whole story of his evening. Though he had one awful interception on a tipped ball, I liked the way he used his legs to extend plays. Bomar's capable of making something happen when a play breaks down, and that's the main reason the Giants should keep him around at least one more season. He obviously has a lot more upside than Jim Sorgi, but you'd have a hard time trusting Bomar if Eli Manning was out for more than two weeks in the regular season.
Nice interception by cornerback Corey Webster against Ben Roethlisberger. Webster has his confidence back, and he's playing with a swagger. Those are the types of plays that galvanize a defense. I think Fewell's done an excellent job of restoring confidence in all of these cornerbacks.
Hakeem Nicks can't get drawn into a fight four plays into a game. Football fights with helmets on seem so redundant. And when you get tossed from a game that early, it can put your teammates in a bind. I'm sure Tom Coughlin will have a long visit with Nicks about that play.
The Giants gave their old pal Flozell Adams fits at his right tackle spot. Tuck gained a small measure of revenge for that shoulder injury that Adams gave him last season by blowing past the aging player at least twice, once with a nice spin move. I liked how Fewell kept moving players around before the play. I think it confused the Steelers' offensive line.
Steve Smith made a Victor Cruz-like catch along the sideline for 45 yards from Bomar. He turned what could've been an interception into a big gain. Cruz entered the game in the second quarter to a loud "Cruuuuuuz!" chant. But he struggled against the Steelers. The muffed punt inside the 10-yard line was tough to watch. Looked like he let the ball bounce off his knee. Just a really clumsy effort. But this will give him a chance to bounce back from a little adversity.
Linebacker Keith Bulluck was only in there for a handful of plays, but I liked when he came racing through to drop Rashard Mendenhall near the line of scrimmage. Bulluck had two tackles and looked good calling out the signals during his short time on the field.
It's fun watching Ahmad Bradshaw run the football now that he's healthy. He has a nice blend of power and speed. As I said last week, Bradshaw's the feature back on this team. He and Brandon Jacobs seem to have a great rapport, so hopefully things won't be too awkward. But I think it will be tough for Jacobs to watch Bradshaw get 18-20 carries in a game while he receives 8-9. That's going to happen.
Excellent job by defensive tackle Rocky Bernard on the goal-line stand at the end of the first quarter. He showed a lot of power on that play, and I think it's something Fewell can build on.
Aaron Ross' 44-yard punt return was a thing of beauty. And don't be too worried about Steelers punter Daniel Sepulveda fighting off blockers to make the tackle. As a Ray Guy Award-winner at Baylor, Sepulveda was known for his punishing hits.
I'm hoping Bruce Johnson was supposed to have help from safety Michael Greco on that 68-yard touchdown. That was way too easy, and it brought back memories of matchups against New Orleans and Philly last season.
Adrien Tracy was pretty active down the stretch and ended up with nine tackles. Regarding safety John Busing, I'm not overly impressed. He's always arriving a split-second late, and I'm being generous with that estimate.
Phillip Dillard's a little eager at times against the run, and you'll see him overpursue. But I do like the energy he brings to the field.
The thing I like about Bomar the most is that he gets the ball out of there quickly. He'll change arm angles and fire a ball into a tight window like he did to Sinorice Moss in the second half. The numbers weren't that great, but I sort of admired how he stood in there and took some hits. And he was fearless when it came to running for first downs. Maybe a bit too fearless for Coughlin's taste.
I saw rookie defensive tackle Linval Joseph run a nice little twist with Kiwanuka on one play in the first half. Joseph's going to be starting by the end of the season.