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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Quick hits from the Giants' preseason game against the Jaguars

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning reacts during

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning reacts during the first quarter of an NFL preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium on Aug. 22, 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J. Photo Credit: Mike Stobe

With an eye toward the regular season and a well-advised reminder that preseason indicators are not necessarily reflective of what will actually happen when the games count, a look at the salient points from Saturday night's Giants-Jaguars exhibition game at MetLife:

So Eli Manning is looking to score 27-30 points a game? Ambitious numbers indeed, although the Giants' offense has hardly looked sharp this early.

Again, it's preseason. But again, it's another summer of sluggish play from the Giants quarterback, who had a slow start to last year's regular season before lighting it up once Odell Beckham Jr. got healthy.

Manning has completed just one pass to a wide receiver the first two weeks, and the Giants have produced just one field goal on his preseason watch so far.

All told the first two games, Manning is a miserable 8-for-22 for 68 yards. Again, not time to panic, just cause for at least some mild concern.

As much as anything, the preseason is one gigantic exercise in holding your breath and hoping no one gets hurt. Or, in the Giants' case, hoping no one else gets hurt, since they've been the NFL's most injured team the past two seasons.

Unfortunately for coach Tom Coughlin, there was more carnage in this one: Linebacker Jon Beason went out with a sprained knee in the first half.

The Giants were fortunate that fellow veteran linebacker Jameel McClain made it through without experiencing the stinger problem that kept him out of last week's preseason opener. There were two more significant injuries Saturday night to the Giants' thin safety position: Bennett Jackson's knee and Justin Currie (ankle) could be done for the season. "It's earmarked as a problem position and to get two guys hurt is tough," Coughlin said. "It's just hard to even comment on it."

The Giants were being extra cautious with a number of other players, keeping wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf), Prince Amukamara (groin), safeties Landon Collins (knee), Nat Berhe (calf) and Cooper Taylor (toe) out of action.

Also missing Saturday night: wide receiver Reuben Randle (tendinitis), defensive end George Selvie (knee) and linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck).

Cruz's absence was unfortunate, because he really had been looking to get in some game action for the first time since suffering a devastating knee injury last October. A calf strain that he insists was unrelated to the knee problem kept him out, meaning that if he does see any preseason action, it will be against the Jets next Saturday. Most key starters typically don't play the final preseason game.

Curious to see how the running back situation pans out. Rashad Jennings entered camp as the starter, but Andre Williams has looked the better of the two so far.

He's more polished than last year with his decisions regarding which hole to pick, he's more patient, and he's making better reads.

With Shane Vereen a lock to be the third-down back and also see some work in the regular offense, Orleans Darkwa could make for an interesting roster decision. The man has a burst, and even though he has been playing against second-teamers so far in the preseason, he's making a strong case to stick.

The defense looked much better against the Jaguars than it did against the Bengals last week, although that might be as much a function of Jacksonville's tepid attack as the Giants' improvement.

"We played better overall defensively," Coughlin said. "We held them to field goals. We didn't always stop them but we held them to field goals."

Still, they'll take it, as the Giants limited the Jaguars to just three first-half field goals before the coaches emptied their benches and got a look at a bunch of players who likely won't be around much longer. Good work by the defensive line -- another sack by Damontre Moore and more solid pass rushing/run-stopping effort from Robert Ayers, who has been the team's most consistent player on defense this camp. It still doesn't make up for the loss of Jason Pierre-Paul, whose return date is anyone's guess.

Can't minimize the importance of rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers' emergence. He has made a seamless transition at a difficult position. Coupled with left guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg, this is clearly the strength of this line. The answers are still not final on the right side, as the Giants started with John Jerry at guard and Marshall Newhouse at tackle, but also used Geoff Schwartz at both guard and tackle.

New/old defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo dialed up a terrific blitz in the second quarter on third-and-9 from the Jaguars' 35. Linebacker J.T. Thomas got to quarterback Chad Henne for the sack-forced fumble, and the Giants recovered to set up a Josh Brown field goal. It's that kind of aggressive play-calling that can help offset the loss of Jason Pierre-Paul, even if it's almost impossible to make up for the loss of such an outstanding pass rusher.


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