John Fennelly, Lead Writer
Here’s some things I’ll be watching for from the Giants’ perspective in tonight’s game vs Pittsburgh.
Of course, the play calls and the execution of the new offense. QB Eli Manning was 6-7 passing last week vs Buffalo, so look for him to continue to hone the short passing game with quick slants and outs to the WRs and screens to the backs. Ryan Nassib should see most of the snaps tonight. He appears to be progressing, and he needs to continue to show improvement to the coaches each time out.
The RBs will see plenty of action. The starter, Rashad Jennings, will once again be given an opportunity to display his versatility and rookie Andre Williams will get to show us that he can pound the rock. With Peyton Hillis (ankle) out, we’re probably going to see a lot of Michael Cox and Kendall Gaskins in this game. Not a bad thing.
The OL will be without OT Will Beatty again. Charles Brown will take his spot. The only battle we’ll be concentrating on is at RG, where Brandon Mosley is slightly ahead of John Jerry and Weston Richburg at this point.
WRs Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle will probably play only a quarter or so, if that. Jerrel Jernigan (knee) practiced Thursday and will likely see some action tonight, but expect the backups to see significant action. Mario Manningham, Julian Talley, Corey Washington, Marcus Harris and others will be on the other end of passes tonight. First round drat choice Odell Beckham, Jr. will not play again tonight.
At TE, Larry Donnell will attempt to separate from the pack. It’ll be easier because Daniel Fells (knee) and Xavier Grimble (hamstring) will probably not play, so he’ll only have Kellen Davis and Adrien Robinson to fend off. This will be Robinson’s best chance to strut his stuff, so let’s see if will finally do it.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul was unimpressive vs Buffalo and Mathias Kiwanuka didn’t show much, either. Damontre Moore gets pressure whenever he’s out there. Robert Ayers (ankle) will likely be limited if he plays. Israel Idonije was signed this week, so he’ll see some snaps. We’re interested in seeing what some of those free agent backups such as Kerry Wynn, Emmanuel Dieke and Jordan Stanton can do.
The DTs are down at least one man (Kelcy Quarles, ankle) and possibly another (Mike Patterson, shoulder) tonight, so Cullen Jenkins, Jon Hankins and Markus Kuhn will see the early snaps and give way to rookie Jay Bromley, Everett Dawkins and perhaps some of the DEs (NASCAR?).
LB is no mystery. Without Jon Beason, Jameel McClain and Mark Herzlich will be the MLBs with Jacquian Williams and rookie Devon Kennard on the outside. Spencer Paysinger missed the Buffalo game with a concussion. He should see his first action this week. Others to watch: Dan Fox, and Spencer Adkins.
At the corners, the Giants will start Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara. Last week, Buffalo stayed away from DRC and picked on Prince. Let’s see of the Steelers do the same. Keep an eye on Walter Thurmond (24), he is a budding star. Zack Bowman is solid as well. Trumaine McBride (hip) won’t play again, so more reps will be given to Charles James II and Chandler Fenner.
The safeties will be Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown backed up by Quintin Demps, but expect a lot of Cooper Taylor and rookies Nat Berhe and CJ Barnett in this game.
The PK competition rages on tonight between Josh Brown and Brandon McManus. Both will be given ample opportunities. The PAT attempts will be from 33 yards out again tonight. May the best man win.
The returner spots are still wide open. Demps will get his chances, but with Trindon Holliday (hamstring) still out, Preston Parker, Harris and perhaps James will field punts among others. Jernigan may be held back because of his knee.