August 2014

Eli Manning and the New York Giants have a lot of work to do before their regular-season opener next Monday night in Detroit. The Giants were 5-0 in the preseason while adapting to the West Coast offense under offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. ''Don't get me wrong, we're ready for Week 1,'' Manning said Friday. We're going to keep getting better, but we can still go out there and be successful and do good things and win games.'' The most immediate issue involves just who will help the Giants do those things.
Dee Milliner's status for the New York Jets' regular-season opener is still unclear. The second-year cornerback suffered a high left ankle sprain during training camp on Aug. 10 and hasn't practiced since. Coach Rex Ryan said it's ''still too early to tell'' whether the injury will be healed for the game against the Oakland Raiders next Sunday. I'm not sure yet.'' Heading into training camp, Milliner and veteran Dimitri Patterson appeared on track as the Jets' starting cornerbacks.
Based on his first nine seasons and what the coaches saw in his three preseason games, the Houston Texans are going to have consistency and production issues with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. If the Texans hope to get within breathing distance of a .500 record, Fitzpatrick must improve on his preseason performance. Fitzpatrick's temperature runs hot and cold, and when the Texans begin the regular season against Washington at NRG Stadium, he won't have to win the game, but if he struggles the way he did in preseason, the team will be doomed. The Texans are hoping to get off to a fast start against what looks like -- based on preseason, at least -- a relatively easy schedule.
No one wanted overtime in the preseason finale, and Bill Belichick made sure neither the New York Giants or New England Patriots had to endure it. Josh Brown kicked a 37-yard field goal with 38 seconds to play after Belichick went for a first down in his territory late, and the Giants capped their first undefeated preseason since 2006 with a 16-13 victory on Thursday night. Patriots rookie Jimmy Garoppolo threw his pass between two receivers and the Giants (5-0) ran off six plays to set up Brown's third field goal. ''I knew it was going to happen,'' Giants punter and holder Steve Weatherford said of Belichick's decision.
Dimitri Patterson disputes the New York Jets' version of his mysterious absence. The suspended cornerback said in a statement to ESPN on Thursday that the Jets' claims that he went missing for 48 hours without notifying the team are ''completely false.'' Patterson was suspended Tuesday for the rest of the preseason after he left the team, according to the Jets, and went missing last Friday night before the preseason game against the Giants without speaking to anyone in the organization. General manager John Idzik said earlier this week that Patterson gave the Jets no warning he would leave the team, and didn't speak to anyone directly until he met with Idzik and coach Rex Ryan on Sunday night at the training facility. ''My agent reached out to the Jets organization multiple times several hours prior to Friday night's game.
In any other year, Tom Coughlin wouldn't be happy playing an extended preseason schedule. The campaign will wrap up Thursday night against the New England Patriots (2-1) at MetLife Stadium. The Giants have missed the postseason the past two years, and there's been a lot of turnover and changes, highlighted by a newly installed West Coast offense under the guidance of former Packers assistant Ben McAdoo. ''We needed to be out here together, too.'' Despite a 4-0 mark, Coughlin isn't giving his starters a break in meeting the Patriots in the preseason finale for the 10th straight season.
While some NFL players may be on cruise control to stay healthy in this final week of preseason, others are going full throttle to nail down a better spot on the depth chart or just to keep their name on the active roster. With the so-called final cut to 53 active players set for Saturday, 1 p.m. Eastern Time, these next few days, including Thursday's final preseason games, are crucial to the careers of several players on each team. In the NFC, some of the stronger teams are looking to firm up depth, such as Super Bowl champion Seattle at backup wide receiver and the San Francisco 49ers at No. 3 running back. Others teams are still trying to solidify their starting lineup, especially the New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys -- all are still sorting through options on the offensive line.
Even as television focuses on Cleveland Browns' rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel to sell fans on Thursday's largely insignificant final preseason games, there are other battles for roster spots all over the American Football Conference that deserve attention.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Associated Press will recognize the NFL's top assistant coach with a new award beginning this season, the news organization announced Wednesday.
After missing the playoffs the past two seasons, Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants aren't one of the morning-line favorites to get back to the postseason. New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and Eli Manning are struggling to get the West Coast scheme in place. The O-line is already reeling with the loss of guard Geoff Schwartz to a dislocated big toe for an indefinite period. Speed at the receiver position has been reduced with first-round draft pick Odell Beckham Jr. fighting a hamstring injury since training camp opened.

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