The New York Giants showed some flashes of brilliance and some not so positive moments in their preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Giants lost the game 32-31 after taking a 24-14 leading into the tunnel at halftime.
It is always hard to take what you see in the preseason and try to translate it to what you can expect during the regular season because sometimes, the two just don’t coordinate.
There are certain aspects which can be noted going forward and much of what was seen in this game will be used as an idea of what needs to be improved upon in practice. It can be tough to gauge a team properly early on in the preseason, but let’s take a look at some things we can take away from the Giants’ opener against the Jaguars.
1. Jayron Hosley Will Be Useful in an Assortment of Ways
The rookie from Virginia Tech looked solid in pass coverage and on punt return duty—sans an unacceptable muffed punt that the Jaguars happily capitalized on with a scoring drive.
Despite that foolish mistake, Hosley was one of many positives for the Giants in the first half of this game. He recorded a tackle, a sack on a nice blitz and had a 11.3 yards-per-punt return average.
Perhaps the most spectacular play of the night? Hosley apparently managed to hold…on a play where he was returning the football.
Replacement referees, ladies and gentlemen.
2. Prince Amukamara is Not Ready
The second-year cornerback was targeted from the get-go and struggled substantially. Blaine Gabbert made him look bad on a few throws, including a 29-yard pass to Mike Thomas that caught Amukamara way out of position.
Later, Amukamara let Cecil Shorts beat him on a fade for a touchdown.
Amukamara made a timely strip on the Jaguars’ next possession, but his struggles were evident. Highly touted for his coverage skills, the former Nebraska Cornhusker has a lot of work cut out for it before the season gets underway. Fortunately, Amukamara still has some time to hone his talents as the season draws near.
3. David Wilson and Rueben Randle Look Sharp
Their performance has received positive reviews, but the play of rookies David Wilson and Rueben Randle against the Jaguars was plenty to brag about. Both players showcased much of what was expected of them coming out of the 2012 NFL draft with Wilson’s speed and Randle’s advantageous size.
Wilson rushed the ball seven times for 43 yards, two receptions for 26 yards and returned two kickoffs for gains of 28 and 48 yards. His most impressive run was the Giants’ best of the night—a 26-yard dash you would have missed if you blinked. On a screen play, Wilson took a reception for a nice 10-yard gain, laying out Jaguars defender Leigh Torrence in the process. Wilson’s ability breaking tackles is one of his most underrated traits and could be invaluable to his success at the pro level.
Meanwhile, Randle’s first reception was a 21-yarder.. On the next drive, Randle used his size and 31-inch vertical to corral a six-yard touchdown pass from fellow former LSU Tiger Ryan Perrilloux.
Both men give the Giants plenty of reason to be excited as their young NFL careers get started.
4. Jerrel Jernigan Needs to Show Something
The muffed punt by Jerrel Jernigan only shed light on what is really going on with the second-year receiver—he has done nothing to prove he deserves a spot on the Giants roster.
To this point, Jernigan was valuable if only for his abilities as a return man. Unfortunately, the reality is Jernigan is no better a return man than he is a receiver. Jernigan has a history of dropping punts and his muff against the Jaguars was not a positive indicator of that improving any time soon.
Jernigan was a non-factor in the passing game, with the exception of an attempted one-handed grab that went unsuccessful. The Jags’ Will Middleton definitely got away with some pass interference, however.
The Giants are pretty stockpiled at the receiver position and a number of guys have stood out thus far in training camp. Jernigan may not be in danger of being cut, but his underperformance to date cannot be helping his cause to see more reps for the Giants.
5. Dwayne Hendricks is Someone to Watch
I didn’t know who Dwayne Hendricks was going into this game, but he made sure I knew who he was by the end of it.
In three seasons with the Giants, Hendricks has played just one game and did not tally a tackle or sack. Maybe Hendricks has had enough of spending his time on the practice squad?
Just three days ago, it was thought that Hendricks blew out his knee during practice. His performance against the Jaguars made a clear argument against any such injury, however.
Hendricks displayed a good push inside from the defensive tackle position. He recorded two sacks and presented a strong force up the middle against the run.
The Giants are always welcoming to more options in the pass rush along the defensive front. Hendricks has not been a popular name coming out of camp, but his performance against the Jaguars could provide a spark in the way of momentum for the former Miami Hurricane. Of course, it could also be a one-game fluke from a guy rendered to practice squad duty for the rest of his NFL career. Right now, it would not hurt to keep an eye on Hendricks going forward.