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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Reese has Giants ready for a deep run

Jerry Reese talks to the media during training

Jerry Reese talks to the media during training camp in Albany, N.Y. (Aug. 3, 2012) Photo Credit: Hans Pennink


Just in case anyone thought the Giants' early-season struggles were a sign of more problems ahead, the defending Super Bowl champions left an undeniable message last night at Bank of America Stadium.

They're not going anywhere just yet.

At a time when it would have been understandable to see yet another uneven performance because of mounting injuries to key starters, the Giants instead put on a dominating performance that left no doubt about just how good they can be.

With Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, David Diehl, and Domenik Hixon out with injuries, their understudies performed brilliantly in a 36-7 beat-down of the Panthers.

Not only did the Giants ignore the quick turnaround from Sunday's 41-34 shootout win at home against Tampa, but they put an exclamation point on things with their most complete performance since last year's playoffs. Coach Tom Coughlin kept talking about building the bridge from last season's remarkable playoff run, and this is the kind of showing he envisioned.

The Giants were dominant from the start, building a 20-0 first-half lead with exceptional performances on both sides of the ball. Running back Andre Brown, a fourth-round pick of the Giants in 2009 who had been released a whopping eight times by five teams, made the most of his first NFL start with 13 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. He finished with 20 carries for 113 yards and two scores. And maligned third-round wide receiver Ramses Barden had nine catches for 138 yards.

Sean Locklear was an unheralded signing in the offseason, but he, too, has proved invaluable. He started the opener at left tackle in place of the injured William Beatty, and Thursday night started at right tackle in Diehl's absence.

"They stepped up and saw it as a great opportunity,'' Coughlin said. "For Andre, knowing he would prepare all week as the starter, that helped. He was outstanding. Ramses caught the ball, made yards after the catch and played very well.''

More proof that the Giants win not only on the field, but in the front office. General manager Jerry Reese sat impassively in the second row of the press box, observing his team's rout with almost no emotion. But surely the sixth-year GM was beaming inside.

Reese isn't often mentioned when the league's best executives are discussed, but he should be. He quietly has fashioned the team's roster with a deft touch. Thursday night, it was rookie Jayron Hosley in the starting lineup at cornerback.

Jason Pierre-Paul is a star, drafted in the first round by Reese when others thought he was too big a risk. Victor Cruz was an unsung gem out of Massachusetts who has emerged into a star. Center David Baas was a solid free agent acquisition last year. Antrel Rolle is an impact player. The list goes on . . . and on . . . and on.

Depth was a critical factor in last year's Super Bowl run, and it certainly will be a factor in whether the Giants repeat.

There are sure to be other aches and pains along the way that further test the depth of the roster. But Reese has proved over and over again that his team's depth is up to the challenge.

He's hoping that will be the case once more. Sure looked that way Thursday night.

New York Sports