Preseason football isn't like watching Week 10 of the regular season. Personnel groupings are more fluid, players are less prepared for their assignments and this particular season, everyone is dealing with replacement officials.
With all of the confusion, it can be hard to tell what you're looking at sometimes.
Of course, if you saw the way coach Tom Coughlin looked on the sidelines of the New York Giants' 32-31 loss the Jaguars in Week 1 of the preseason, you probably weren't too confused.
Coughlin said later that he was happy with the effort, but couldn't stomach the penalties, the poor run defense or the Giants' inability to field a punt cleanly.
With all of that in mind, here are some things to consider as the Giants prepare for Saturday's preseason game against the New York Jets:
1. Anyone got a nickel? Regardless of whether or not cornerback Terrell Thomas wound up starting opposite Corey Webster, he was the favorite to serve as the team's nickelback this season. The thinking was that Thomas' tackling ability — he led the team in tackles in 2009 and 2010 before tearing his ACL before the 2011 season — would be best served in the middle of the field. Of course, Thomas aggravated his ACL injury and is out indefinitely, so the team is still looking for a long-term solution at the position. Safety Antrel Rolle handled the job at the end last season, but cornerback Jayron Hosley and safety Will Hill saw more time at nickel toward the end of training camp. Both are very physical and Hill provides something that Deon Grant gave the Giants last season — a safety/linebacker hybrid.
2. Can Sean Locklear win a roster spot? Will Beatty's back issues haven't dissipated, so Locklear saw the majority of the work at left tackle at Thursday's practice and will likely start on the blindside against the Jets on Saturday. Left guard Kevin Boothe told CBSSports.com that Locklear has picked up the offense quickly and has already proven himself reliable. However, it may take more than Beatty's back injury to guarantee Locklear a spot on the roster. The Giants can always move right tackle David Diehl back to the blind side and promote second-year tackle James Brewer to the starting lineup. But if Locklear has a strong outing against Rex Ryan's pass rush and against the Bears on Aug. 24, then he should begin the regular season on the 53-man roster.
3. The battle at middle linebacker rages on: Second-year middle linebacker Mark Herzlich's progress is undeniable. He seems more athletic in practice and has impressed the coaches with his progress in the meeting room. But that doesn't change Chase Blackburn's status as one of the most knowledgeable Giants defenders. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell joked that if he loses his playbook, he can always look off of Blackburn's notes because he has such a thorough understanding of the scheme. Herzlich saw significantly more playing time in the first preseason game, but that doesn't mean Blackburn has been knocked out of the starter's role. Expect this competition to continue into the regular season.
4. Are DE Adrian Tracy and DT Dwayne Hendricks the next great Giants pass rushers? Tracy floundered between the 53-man roster and the practice squad in two seasons as a strongside linebacker and Hendricks appeared in only one game in his time with the Giants, but both are being called upon now. Defensive line coach Robert Nunn is working to replace departed defensive end Dave Tollefson in addition to defensive tackles Shaun Rogers (season-ending blood clot in leg), Martin Parker (season-ending back surgery) and Chris Canty (knee, PUP). Tracy and Hendricks responded in the first preseason game by sacking Jacksonville's quarterbacks a total of three times. Veterans Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have taken to calling Tracy “Young Osi,” while Coughlin is fond of saying that Hendricks will “make you look bad” if you're not prepared.
5. Laron Scott enters mix as returner: Laron Scott already has a 67-yard kickoff return under his belt this preseason. Oddly enough, that came as a member of the Saints in the Hall of Fame Game. Now the undrafted rookie is with New York after being released by New Orleans, and he's expected to compete for the kickoff and punt return jobs. Rookie David Wilson had a 48-yard return against the Jaguars in the first preseason game, so Scott has his work cut out for him. Both Hosley and Jerrel Jernigan muffed punts in the first preseason game and Coughlin said Scott is capable of doing that as well. Scott only had one punt return at Georgia Southern, but it did go for 41 yards. And while Scott's 4.40 40-yard dash time at the draft combine was impressive, he told CBSSports.com that he's usually a little faster.
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