Quarterback Eli Manning and star wide receiver Odell Beckham didn't play in the New York Giants' final preseason game Thursday in Foxboro. But several rookies who could play big roles this year did. Safety Landon Collins, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa and wide receiver Geremy Davis all showed well in their final tune-up before the regular season. Here are some quick thoughts on the Giants' 12-9 exhibition victory against the New England Patriots.
QB Depth Chart: Manning went through what the team described as an "extended warmup" before the game but did not start. "I think the offense is ready," Manning explained to Channel 4 at halftime. Backup Ryan Nassib got the start and played into the fourth quarter, finishing 16-for-32 for 193 yards. He's in no danger of losing his backup job to Ricky Stanzi, but this wasn't Nassib's best-ever pregame showing. He moves well and seems to handle pressure well, but he has major accuracy issues from the pocket and seems to need more development.
Maybe That Guy Could Start: I feel like I've written about him every week, but Odighizuwa keeps showing up. He fights through blockers in a way a lot of the Giants' defensive linemen haven't been able to this preseason. He still needs to work on his pass-rush moves, but his technique is developing quickly. And in the meantime, his raw athleticism and on-field attentiveness make him an asset in the run game. His role should expand as the season goes along.
Who got hurt?: Wide receiver Corey Washington (shoulder) and cornerback Trevin Wade (back) were both announced as late scratches due to injuries, which is poor timing for them. Both guys are on the roster bubble and final cuts are due Saturday at 4 pm ET. Blocking tight end Daniel Fells injured his shoulder in the second quarter but returned to the game late.
Who stood out?: Defensive end George Selvie had two sacks in the first half. The Patriots' didn't put any starters on the field, so Selvie was pushing around backups, but it was good to see him looking healthy. And the way the preseason has good for the pass rush, the Giants had to like seeing anyone get through the line, no matter who was wearing the opponents' jerseys. Defensive end Kerry Wynn had a couple of good, penetrating run stops and appears set to play a role early in the defensive line rotation until Jason Pierre-Paul is ready to play.
Rookie Watch: In addition to third-rounder Odighizuwa, second-rounder Landon Collins had a strong game, showing pretty good range in coverage and knocking down a pass attempt to Reggie Wayne in the first quarter. And sixth-rounder Geremy Davis had three catches for 65 yards, including a 40-yard sideline catch from Nassib. Davis plays on special teams and has shown enough as a receiver to make the team. First-rounder Ereck Flowers looked all right again at left tackle, though he had a couple of first-quarter hiccups including a missed block and a face mask penalty.
One Reason to Freak Out: A game like this provides no legitimate reason to freak out in either direction, but it's at least a bit worrisome that with 10 days before the opener the Giants don't have their starting offensive line set. They alternated first-team series with Geoff Schwartz and John Jerry at right guard, then Schwartz got in with the second team at right tackle. Marshall Newhouse is still the starting right tackle, but things are unsettled on the right side of that line.
Why Moore doesn't play more: Defensive end Damontre Moore, whose playing time early his career has been limited due to maturity and concentration issues, was flagged for three 15-yard personal foul penalties. The 2013 third-round pick will make the team, but he's got to show more discipline if he wants to see the field on a regular basis, even with the Giants short on the defensive line. But he also showed the upside. Two plays after his third personal foul, in the fourth quarter, he got a sack and forced the fumble that ended the game.
Mr. Versatile: Fullback Nikita Whitlock changed his number from 49 to 35 for this game because the Giants wanted to be able to use him on defense (and linebacker Cole Farrand wears 49 and they can't put two guys with the same number on the field at the same time). Whitlock, 5-foot-10 and 250 pounds, got some reps at defensive tackle in the fourth quarter and recovered the fumble Moore forced. He also played all over the special teams units. He had some experience playing defense in college at Wake Forset. Could the ability to contribute on defense help him make the team? Or some other team?
Stevie's back: Safety Stevie Brown, who had eight interceptions for the Giants in 2012, missed all of 2013 with a knee injury, got benched in 2014, left as a free agent, signed with the Texans, got cut by the Texans and re-signed with the Giants just last week, picked off a tipped pass in the fourth quarter. Back in 2012, the ball seemed to find Brown, and that's what happened here -- right place, right time. But with the score 12-9 in favor of the Giants and 3:12 left on the clock and the Patriots driving deep in Giants territory, this interception was absolutely massive as it helped ward off the scourge that is preseason overtime.