By Ernie Palladino
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Saturday night's Jets-Giants game still has the potential to turn into the chippy, fight-filled preseason affair of past seasons.
One can only hope it reaches some representative level of excitement, if only to counteract the abject dullness of the training camp week.
Nobody's talking. Not in the way they have in the past, anyway. Things actually have been so polite that people have started missing Rex Ryan's mouth. Not that they're criticizing silent Todd Bowles, who appears to enjoy public speaking about as much as MetLife Stadium counterpart Tom Coughlin, but it's obvious he'd rather spend his time divvying up punishment gassers for excessive penalties than blasting Odell Beckham Jr. for his, shall we say, passionate playing style.
Instead of Rex going back and forth over then-rookie Andre Williams' proclamation that the Giants are "the real New York team" last year, or Nick Mangold tweeting a photo of the hard-won 2013 Snoopy Bowl trophy strapped into his back seat, we have received little in the way of game-related byplay. Beckham, in fact, fell just short of ordering floral bouquets for cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie as he praised them to the sky. Eli Manning? He never gets into anything, unless it's to deny reports of his contract demands.
And the coaches had better things to do anyway than buzz their way through the week. Bowles, remember, has already had to replace his mandible-challenged quarterback Geno Smith, and star defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson awaits word on a possible league suspension for speedometer abuse.
Coughlin has his own problems, not the least of which is a seemingly endless injury list.
Actually, a little word-battle might have offered the coaches a pleasant distraction from their issues.
Given the conduct of both teams this week, don't be surprised to see a few odd sights after the 7 p.m. kickoff:
-- If Odell Beckham grabs his first completion of the preseason (after seven incompletions), he'll undoubtedly do some celebrating. At that point, Darrelle Revis, the great cornerback who recently ranked Beckham's three-fingered touchdown catch against Dallas last year as the best he's ever seen, will walk over and say, "Young man, settle down. Act like you've been there before." To which Beckham will stand up, "Uh, yes, sir, Mr. Revis."
-- The Jets will sack Eli Manning six times, all over right tackle where guards Geoff Schwartz and Bobby Hart split work once starter Marshall Newhouse comes out. Newhouse will play despite a right ankle mishap in Wednesday's practice. Schwartz, who did just OK in his snaps out there last week, is really a career guard. Hart is a seventh-round draft pick. Do the math.
-- Ryan Fitzpatrick will throw for at least three touchdowns, since the Giants will have no one playing in the deep middle. Sure, they say second-round rookie safety Landon Collins will return. But they'll lose a bunch of others because, well, that's just the way this preseason has gone for that position.
-- Speaking of safeties, if a meeting between the Brandons (Jets WR Marshall and Giants S Meriweather) occurs, they'll have a short, sweet conversation about the 2013 comments that called for the league to expel Meriweather for his illegal hits on receivers, and Marshall for alleged hits on his girlfriend. They will part, agreeing to disagree.
-- Rueben Randle will catch the first pass of the game, then come out as Coughlin decides not to push his luck on another tendinitis flareup.
Or, the teams could surprise and engage in a good old backyard brawl that will leave everyone wanting for the real Dec. 6 showdown which, if all goes right for these teams, could actually mean something.
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