Last week the New York Giants beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a win that was as costly as it was exciting. The Giants will enter their game against the Carolina Panthers without several key players including NFC Offensive Player of the Week Hakeem Nicks, starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw, starting right tackle David Diehl, and third wide receiver Domenik Hixon.
Ramses Barden, who was in danger of losing his roster spot heading into training camp, will now become the starting wide receiver opposite Victor Cruz and rookie Rueben Randle and second-year receiver Jerrel Jernigan will see a significant increase in playing time.
Andre Brown, who gained 90 total yards and included a touchdown last week, will get his first NFL start in place of Ahmad Bradshaw who suffered a neck injury in the first quarter last week.
Sean Locklear will slide over from left tackle to take over for Diehl while Will Beatty takes over at left tackle. The running game seemed to have new life after Diehl went down and Brown and Beatty were in the lineup.
While losing Diehl and Bradshaw will hurt, the biggest loss for the Giants comes in the passing game. Losing Nicks and Hixon is a major blow to a passing attack that carried the Giants to victory. Barden filled in for Hixon last week after Hixon suffered a concussion and caught one pass for 24 yards.
However, Barden, Jernigan, and Randle are untested despite the high expectations that came with their selections in their respective drafts. All three will need to step up when they are asked to contribute on offense tomorrow night.
After running on all cylinders last weekend, the Giants offensive depth with be severely tested, even against a Carolina defense that has allowed 226 yards per game through the air and 147 yards on the ground per game.
However, there is some good news for the Giants. Prince Amukamara will make his regular season debut tomorrow and should help stabilize a pass defense that has allowed 259 yards per game through the air. Having Amukamara and Jayron Hosley to line up with Corey Webster should be an improvement after Michael Coe and Justin Tryon were exposed in previous weeks.
The Giants will be challenged this week. Not only are they going in missing three starters at key positions but they are missing a fourth major contributor in Hixon but they will be facing a potentially explosive offense led by Cam Newton and Steve Smith.
There is one positive in that the Giants will truly get a long look at what Barden and Brown offer as well as seeing what David Wilson can do with a larger role in the offense. Hopefully, the Giants won’t need another miracle from Eli Manning and company in order to leave Charlotte with a win.