I know many writers have said that LB is a focal point, but with Michael Boley (hamstring) and Jacquian Williams (hip) still out, it doesn't appear any decisions will be made soon. Keith Rivers will start for Boley at WLB, Chase Blackburn will start in the middle and Mathias Kiwanuka will line up at SAM. Mark Herzlich is being groomed to be the MLB of the future and he will see significant action tonight. The team also likes Spencer Paysinger at WLB, but Rivers apparently has leapfrogged over him on the depth chart.
Since everyone is putting their two cents in on what to focus on tonight, let me join the fray from the Giants side....
1. Defensive Tackle - with all the injuries and changes, this area has gone from a strength to a possible liability in about a week. They need to re-stabiilze this unit. Shaun Rogers is gone (still on the active roster, though), and Chris Canty and Marvin Austin's return are open-ended. Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard will start with Dwayne Hendricks spelling them. What comes next is uncertain. Marcus Kuhn will get an opportunity to play as will Oren Thomas and Carlton Powell. Not sure if Marcus Thomas, who was just signed Thursday, will dress. Don't think Justin Tuck will be used inside at this point.
2. Kick/Punt Returner - I'm going to throw out last week's punt return performance because a) it was the first game, b) it was nighttime and c) the Jags punter was booming the ball very high and it was tough to judge. You can make an argument that these guys are pros, but I can make the same argument that they're really not - yet. Jerrel Jernigan and Jayron Hosley need to hold on the football or they'll be in trouble. Ball security is No. 1. The Giants signed Laron Scott this week and will be giving him a shot as well. There is a long way to go in this competition. Kickoff returner is still open as well. Jernigan will be the constant. Will the Giants keep rookie RB David Wilson there? Time will tell. If not, Da'Rel Scott will pair up with Jernigan. Either way, it's all new to the Giants and it has to shake itself out real soon.
3. Wide Receiver - Hakeem Nicks is still not ready to return. He will begin working out with the team beginning Monday. Victor Cruz and Ramses Barden started last week, but Barden's ankle could hinder him or keep him out tonight, which won;t bode well for him. Domenik Hixon would get the call across from Cruz if that is the case. In three-wides and as the game progresses, everyone will get a shot: Jernigan, Julian Talley, David Douglas, Isaiah Stanback, Brandon Collins and the player that will eventually be the Giants' third WR - second-round pick Rueben Randle. Can't remember last time I saw a rookie come in and acclimate to the pro game so seamlessly. He looks more polished than a lot of veterans.
4. Cornerback - Corey Webster is the anchor. T2 just began running in a pool this week and is weeks away from returning. That means Prince Amukamara will get the call again at RCB tonight. He got toasted a few times early on last week, but recovered by causing a turnover and followed it up with an impressive week in practice. Michael Coe is battling a hamstring and missed most of this week He and Brandon Bing (hamstring) won't play. Hosley will get some run, as will Justin Tryon, Dante Hughes, Bruce Johnson, Antuan Molden and the newcomer Scott. They have to find out who is reliable and who is not.
5. Offensive Tackle - The Giants want to keep David Diehl at RT. That is the plan. They are hoping that Will Beatty's back issues clear up and that veteran Sean Locklear proves to be a solid option. If neither of those happen, Diehl could be swung back to LT. Not tonight, but in the coming weeks. Tonight, Locklear will start at LT and be followed by rookie Matt McCants and possibly second-year player James Brewer. OL coach Pat Flaherty is one of the best OL coaches in the league. Let's see how this goes tonight before we start panicking.