It seems foolish to treat this game like an actual game and give a recap-style summary of it; these early preseason games are really just bunch of series’ in which different groups of players participate, many of whom won’t be in around in a few weeks. So here are a few impressions of last night’s game that shouldn’t be read too seriously into. There’s a lot of time between now and September 10.

–The Giants first string defense did not look good, particularly the interior defensive line. William Joseph looked like he was out of position on a couple of runs, as if he had been goaded into abandoning his gap on a couple of counter plays. Chase Blackburn and Reggie Torbor didn’t look especially poised against the run, over-pursuing on those counters and generally looking as if they were a beat late. (Blackburn also seemed slow to react in pass coverage.) Because of the soft, undisciplined underbelly of the Giants defense on those plays, Jamal Lewis was able to get to the second level and power his way for chunks of yards.

–Gibril Wilson had a hard time with Todd Heap. As my friend Wong pointed out, because Wilson is not particularly tall, he’s going to have a difficult time being matched up in single coverage against tight ends. He’s listed at 6 feet, so he gives up 4 or 5 inches to many Tight Ends, including the 6-5 Heap. In Gibril’s defense, the Ravens did a good job picking up blitzes, which allowed McNair to stand poised in the pocket and find Heap and company.

–Corey Webster took the wrong approach to tackling McNair on McNair’s touchdown run. It seemed like he tried to grab McNair’s shoulders and sort rodeo him back away from the goal line, but McNair overpowered him and dragged him three yards across the plane. A better approach for Webster would have been trying to get his head across McNair’s front side and do his best to stalemate McNair until help arrived.

–Sam Madison made a beautiful play in pass coverage, during which he was definitely interfered with. I don’t know who the receiver was, but Madison ran with him stride for stride and made a good attempt at the ball. The receiver totally went through Madison to break the play up, and although he got credit for “playing defense” on the play (announcers love making this point), he clearly interfered with Madison.

–Brandon Jacobs had a good first run, but didn’t look so good after that. He was definitely making a conscious effort to run low, but he looked hunched over and unnatural.

Running low is a hard thing to teach. Some guys just don’t do it, and I think Jacobs is one of those guys. This doesn’t mean that he can’t be an effective running back; it just means that the Giants can’t keep pigeonholing him as a power, short-yardage guy like they did with Dayne. Jacobs actually looks really good on the wing – it seems like once he gets in space, he’s able to utilize his good vision, timing, and head-of-steam power. But on inside runs, he looks like he’s tiptoeing. Even though he’s big, he can’t really load up any momentum to utilize his power. Just like they did with Dayne, who, it turns out, wasn’t nearly as bad as he looked in our offense, the Giants are assuming the Jacobs is a tackle to tackle guy just because he’s big.

Let me go on record as saying that TIKI SHOULD GET ALL THE GOAL LINE CARRIES. Jacobs somehow got credit for “bowling his way into the end zone,” or something like that. He didn’t. He sort of awkwardly jumped and lunged his way across the plane. Because of Jacobs’ size, he’s obviously more powerful than Tiki if you’re talking about straight-up power. But because Tiki has so much more control over his body in tight spaces, he’s able to better maneuver himself into a position where he can use what power he has. Jacobs, although capable of producing far more power than Tiki, struggles to get in positions where he can leverage that power.

–Although the biggest offensive play for the Giants was a 43 yard completion from Eli to Plaxico late in the first quarter, 1) the play could have gone for many, many more yards if Eli had led Plax a little more and not forced him on an out-of-bounds path; and 2) Plaxico’s second foot was out of bounds by inches when he caught the ball – it shouldn’t have been a catch. Strangely, even after a challenge, the refs somehow didn’t see this. Plaxico seemed rather nonchalant about keeping both feet in bounds. He also seemed strangely nonchalant on the play that ultimately resulted in a pass interference call in the endzone, which set up Jacobs’ touchdown, although perhaps his politicking for the call was worthwhile in the end.

–James Sims was unimpressive. With Ward out, we’re really only two-deep at running back.

–Tim Carter looked very, very good, catching 3 balls for 36 yards in what was obviously very limited action. He used his speed to back d-backs off of him, and did a nice job coming back to the ball and making the catches. Carter is big, strong, and blazingly fast. We’ve seen flashes from this guy – parts of 2003, early 2004 – so let’s just hope he stays healthy. Kudos to Accorsi for re-signing him.

–Mathias Kiwanuka was another big positive. On one series in the third quarter, he had half a sack on first down, a quarterback hurry/knockdown on second down, and a sack on third down. He looks incredibly quick rushing around the bend and spinning to the inside. If this guy learns and develops, he could be a real force.

–Gerris Wilkinson saw a lot of action and forced a big fumble. This guy might play a big role on the team, so keep an eye on him.

–Michael Jennings had an electrifying punt return for a touchdown. I really wish I had a YouTube clip of this, but it was a sweet run. I believe Coughlin said the other day that Jennings “has some zip, but he hasn’t made many plays.” Well now the former track star at FSU has one huge play to his credit. At this point, you have to think that Jennings has a pretty decent chance of making the team. Because…

–Willie Ponder fumbled, sort of. The original fumble ruling was eventually overturned because Ponder’s knee was down, but I’m sure his carelessness with the ball irked Colonel Tom just the same. In the battle for the sixth receiver/extra return man role, you’d have to think that Jennings has the edge at this point.

–Tim Hasselbeck looked pretty good, and pretty mobile. There were times when you could convince yourself that it was Matt Hasselbeck out there.

–Jay Feely hooked a 44 yard field goal, and then almost hooked the game-winning 29 yarder. Let’s hope he gets on track – the last thing we need in the NFC East is a shaky kicker. But Feely was very, very good last year.

Now, all of these observations shouldn’t be taken all that seriously because it’s still so early on. Carl Banks pointed out that since this was the first live contact for the Giants, it’s not surprising that they were “a step too slow,” as he put it. It sure is cool to have football back though!