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Giants Won't Learn Much in Preseason Opener

Giants start work on title defense in Jacksonville

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Aug 23, 2012  |  Updated 1:04 PM EDT
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Wilson is one of the Giants to watch on Friday night.

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The weather forecast for Jacksonville Friday night calls for thunderstorms in the early part of the evening.

If that comes to pass, the Giants' first game action of the 2012 preseason will be light on chances to evaluate where the team sits at this point in time. The Giants won't risk key players in sloppy conditions and the game will quickly turn into a battle of third-stringers fighting for practice squad jobs.

That would be a shame because we're looking forward to seeing Eli Manning, Jason Pierre-Paul and the rest of the Giants back in action after the long offseason. Truth is, though, the Giants aren't going to learn much about themselves even if the rains hold off all night long.

Jacksonville will be playing the game without running back Maurice Jones-Drew, holding out in hopes of getting a new contract, and first-round wide receiver Justin Blackmon, finally signed this week but not yet ready for game action. The Jaguars also have injuries on the interior of their offensive line and questions about quarterback Blaine Gabbert's fitness for the job, leaving the Giants defense without much of a test for themselves.

Injuries are going to impact the Giants' side of things as well. Linebacker Michael Boley, defensive tackle Chris Canty and cornerback Terrell Thomas will all sit out the game, which will mean that players will be pushed up the depth chart into roles they won't be playing come the regular season.

Left tackle Will Beatty will also miss the game with a back injury and right tackle option James Brewer is ailing, leaving the Giants without a chance to figure out who fits where on their offensive line. That will also likely impact their play-calling, since Manning isn't going to be left out to dry behind makeshift blockers.

So what can the Giants learn about themselves on Friday night? They can get their first look at first-round pick David Wilson in game action so that they can see if there's any need to look for a veteran option at running back behind Ahmad Bradshaw.

They'll also get extended looks at Domenik Hixon, second-round pick Rueben Randle and the other players vying for snaps down the depth chart at wide receiver. Decisions aren't going to be made by any of them just yet, but it is worth remembering that the only reason Victor Cruz is in a Giants uniform is because he excelled in garbage time of a preseason game.

All in all, it looks like it will be a quiet opener for the Giants. That fits right into the general theme of their camp and it likely suits the team just fine as they prepare to defend their Super Bowl title.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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