By Paul Dottino
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One more preseason game remaining. One more chance for nearly 20 players to make the coaches think twice before deciding who will be jettisoned to reach the 53-man roster limit on Saturday afternoon -- and that's not all.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin made it a point to emphasize that some of the battles are being waged against more than the other players in the locker room.
"You're not competing just against the guys here, you're competing against the waiver wire," Coughlin stressed this week.
The Giants plan to see little of their starters in the preseason finale at New England. Coughlin indicated they will be on a pitch count (rather than offering a standard quarter) and that some of the first-team players will receive a few more snaps than the others. Some players need the reps because they've been limited by injury, and others could simply use more experience.
Here are three things to watch for in Thursday night's game:
1. CATCH IT!
The Giants appear to be overloaded at wide receiver -- it's clearly one of the deepest positions on the team despite Victor Cruz's sore calf and Rueben Randle's knee tendinitis. Both of those players, along with Odell Beckham Jr. and special teams ace Dwayne Harris, are locks, so that's four out of a maximum six slots.
The coaches will find reasons they like each of the remaining four candidates: James Jones (work ethic/experience), Corey Washington (size/big-play potential), Geremy Davis (toughness/special teams) and Preston Parker (toughness/special teams). This decision will go down to the wire. Perhaps the Giants might even be able to swing a last-minute trade.
2. GUARD OR TACKLE?
Veteran Geoff Schwartz has improved his play while getting more consistent reps after rehabbing his sore foot. He and the coaches understand he is best suited to play right guard. However, they still haven't been able to settle on if the offensive line is better with Schwartz at guard and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle, or with Schwartz at tackle and John Jerry at right guard.
Schwartz, himself, has stated that he thinks of himself as a starter and plans on winning one of those spots in the days leading into the regular-season opener. But the question remains: Is there a mystery outsider who may shortly enter the mix to clarify the puzzle?
3. WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?
Veteran safety Stevie Brown arrived this week to begin his second stint with the Giants. He will receive some reps against the Patriots as he tries to familiarize himself with the playbook. He's started for the team before, and he's certainly got a chance to fight for a pairing opposite first-rounder Landon Collins.
Over the past two years, Brown has come back from a torn ACL and the dreaded Lisfranc surgery. At the moment, Brown's been working with second-team strong safety Brandon Meriweather, behind the Collins-Cooper Taylor duo. But those combinations could change at a moment's notice.
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