The Giants are already dealing with injuries to CBs Terrell Thomas and Michael Coe (hamstring), so Saturday's 26-3 preseason win over the Jets was the perfect opportunity for rookie CB Jayron Hosley to make a statement.
The third-round pick did exactly that by returning a Mark Sanchez pass 77 yards for a touchdown. Unfortunately, Hosley had a walking boot on his right foot after the game, which puts all of his progress on Saturday in jeopardy.
“I couldn't tell you right now,” Hosley said when asked about the origin of the injury. “I felt a little something in it and just went to the trainer. Got to get more tests on it.”
Hosley didn't seem too upset about his foot, but that may have been the afterglow of his first professional interception. He led the NCAA with nine picks as a Virginia Tech Hokie back in 2010, but that number fell to just three in 2011 as opposing offenses began to avoid him.
“You're a rookie,” Hosley said, explaining that he expects quarterbacks to throw in his direction now that he's in the NFL. “I'm not sure if [Sanchez] knew that, but he saw that his guy got open and had a little advantage on me and, you know, just threw it and I went in there and made a good play.”
Hosley was the first defensive back to play at nickelback on Saturday, which is a good sign for S Antrel Rolle, who would probably prefer to remain at safety after serving in that nickel role a season ago.
But the good news didn't stop there for Hosley. After muffing a punt against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first preseason game, Hosley wisely let one punt fall into the end zone, returned another for 10 yards and was stopped for no gain on another return. All three punts were fielded cleanly.
Rueben Randle takes a step in the right direction: The second-round pick hauled in a 49-yard pass from backup QB David Carr on Saturday. That came after starting QB Eli Manning overthrew Randle and was subsequently picked off in the first half.
It seemed as though Randle might have run an incorrect route, but Manning later absolved the rookie of any mistake.
“I was trying to throw it away,” Manning said. “I didn't get enough on it, didn't throw it high enough or far enough to get it out of bounds.”
Barden was targeted twice, dropping one pass and being unable to break free from Jets' CB Darrelle Revis on another.
Meanwhile Hixon caught one four-yard pass the only time he was targeted.
Of course, in Cruz's previous three games against the Jets (including two preseason games), the undrafted receiver had 11 catches for 323 yards and four touchdowns.
Giants defensive tackles shine: After all the injuries the Giants have suffered at defensive tackle (Chris Canty is on PUP with a knee injury while Marvin Austin missed Saturday's game with a back issue and Shaun Rogers' season has already ended because of a blood clot), coach Tom Coughlin must have been encouraged to see starters Rocky Bernard and Linval Joseph play so well.
Jets FB John Conner rushed the ball twice on Saturday and was stopped on third-and-short by Joseph in the first quarter and on fourth-and-short by Bernard in the second quarter.
Matt Broha still producing: Defensive end Adrian Tracy seemed like a favorite to replace the departed Dave Tollefson on the 53-man roster, but his night ended early with a hamstring injury while rookie Matt Broha played well for the second consecutive game.
Broha picked up his second sack of the preseason in the fourth quarter.
David Wilson struggles: The first-round pick didn't play as well as he did against Jacksonville (he had 43 yards on seven carries that game), finishing with just 26 yards on eight carries. He said afterward that he's ready in case Ahmad Bradshaw's hand injury is serious.
Meanwhile, D.J. Ware picked up seven yards in each of his first two carries, but finished the game with just 15 yards on 11 rushes. Da'Rel Scott finally made a preseason appearance, gaining seven yards on three carries.
Backup offensive line struggles: The Giants starting offensive line played respectably, but there was several communication problems in the second half among the second and third teamers.
The results weren't good. Carr was sacked twice while running back Andre Brown managed only 10 yards on four carries because he never really had any room to run.
Not a great game for Eli Manning: Besides the interception, Manning didn't look sharp when throwing to receivers not named “Victor Cruz.”
Manning completed just seven of 14 passes for 62 yards, but only managed to connect with two receivers besides Cruz.
“I thought there were some good things and going against a good defense, they showed a lot of different looks,” Manning said afterward.