By Brad Carroll
Here are the three biggest storylines to follow as the New York Giants play the New York Jets in the annual Snoopy Bowl at MetLife Stadium Friday night.
Should We Be Worried About Saquon?
In a word, no, we shouldn’t be worried at all about the Giants’ prized first round draft pick. Saquon Barkley returned to practice Wednesday in a limited role, and although he’s not ruled out of playing against the Jets Friday, it would be a surprise if he did. And holding him out would be the correct decision. Giants fans don’t have much to latch on to excitement-wise this preseason (very few teams actually do, mainly only those with prized rookie quarterbacks under center), but Barkley provided that in spades and would do so again Friday. He made a brief appearance against the Browns in preseason Week 1, six plays in all, breaking off a 39-yard run on his first carry to electrify the home crowd. But that’s been it for Barkley, who tweaked his hamstring last Monday. If Barkley doesn’t play Friday, there’s no chance he’s going to play in the fourth and mostly meaningless game (except for those trying to win a final roster spot) the following week against New England. So, is six plays enough for Barkley to be ready for Week 1 against the Jaguars? We will find out that Sunday. But there’s little doubt, whether or not he plays Friday night, that Barkley should be 100 percent for Sept. 9.
Should We Be Worried About Davis Webb?
This one can’t be answered with one word, as yes and no are the only acceptable answers. If you’re going by Week 1 against the Browns, then no, there’s no way you would have confidence Webb could be a trusted backup quarterback to Eli Manning. He went 9-of-22 for 70 yards in that game, for a rating under 50. He was actually worse than those numbers would reflect. But if you go by Week 2 against the Lions, then, yeah, sure, Webb could be that guy. Getting the start, Webb finished 14-of-20 for 140 yards and a touchdown, for a 106.3 rating. Quite the turnaround for the second-year player. It was certainly a confidence-building moment for Davis, who got the chance to play with the starting offense, not to mention the entire team. Webb is going to be the backup quarterback this season no matter what happens against the Jets and Patriots, but another strong performance Friday night will put to bed some of the doubts that crept in after his game against Cleveland. Plus, there’s still hope Webb can become Manning’s eventually successor. And that will always draw interest from the fanbase.
Should We Be Worried About The Offensive Line?
Yes. But Giants fans are always worried about the offensive line, and for good reason. The line was terrible last season and hasn’t been much better this preseason. There is reason for hope, though, and it starts with Nate Solder, the big free agency signing to play left tackle. Each position on the line will have a different starter from last season, though, so the cohesiveness process is going to take time. Of course, the Giants don’t have much time for that to come together, as it’s this preseason game against the Jets, next week’s contest where not much will change, and then it’s Week 1 against Jacksonville. So, this game against the Jets, where the starters typically play into the second half, will be of utmost importance for the offensive line. The biggest names to watch are Will Hernandez, the hyped rookie, and Ereck Flowers, who has moved over to right tackle. The Jets don’t have a viable pass rush, so the opportunity is there for the offensive line to head into the regular season with a lot of positive momentum.