The New York Giants take the field for the first time in 2017 on Friday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game will be played at 7:00 PM Eastern on NFL Network. It will be our first chance to see how this iteration of Big Blue gels. Well…it will be a chance to see some of Big Blue.
Quarterback Eli Manning could be one prominent absence from the lineup. He sat for the Giants’ first preseason game last year. Thus far, coach Ben McAdoo has been mum on the playing time for QB. Manning made his thoughts known to the media: “I think I got enough action over the last 14 years to get me ready for the upcoming season.” So you have Eli, so you have.
If Manning does not play, though, it could make things interesting on offense. Both backup quarterbacks are competing for jobs, yet so are a number of wide receivers down the depth chart. Players like Darius Powe were probably licking their chops to get a chance to run with the first-team offense in an actual game. That opportunity will be put on hold if Manning sits.
And it remains to be seen if there would even have been an opening at receiver in the starting lineup. Despite the injury to Sterling Shepard in which he heard a pop in his ankle, reports are that he has a chance to suit up for this very first preseason contest.
Shepard returned to practice on Monday, less than a week after the injury forced him to leave the practice field on a cart. It would be a remarkable emotional turnaround for him and the fans if he saw the field Friday. For a little while there last week, fans worried that Shepard could be out for the year, depending on what the injury turned out to be. Now he may miss no time at all.
McAdoo’s comments in relation to Shepard’s availability were rather enlightening.
It’s hard to be cautious coaching this game. We have to get guys ready to go play and compete. That’s the big thing right now, and getting the fundamentals right. If you go through and you’re cautious and you’re not physical, it’s hard to be ready in Week 1.
Shepard certainly doesn’t have 14 years in the NFL like Manning, though it still feels like a long shot that the second-year wideout will play in the meaningless (as far as the outcome is concerned) game.