Patriots wrap up preseason with annual meeting with Giants
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) walks away after shaking hands with his brother New York Giants' Eli Manning (10) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Broncos won the game 41-23. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after a NFL football minicamp in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, June 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
This is a 2014 photo of Tommy Kelly of the New England Patriots NFL football team. This image reflects the New England Patriots active roster as of Tuesday, June 17, 2014 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – In any other year, Tom Coughlin wouldn’t be happy playing an extended preseason schedule.
A four-game schedule might be considered too long, and playing in the Hall of Fame contest at the start of the month stretched it to five games. The campaign will wrap up tonight against the New England Patriots (2-1) at MetLife Stadium.
However, Coughlin isn’t complaining about an extra game during this training camp. 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 the work,” said Coughlin, whose team went 7-9 last season after an 0-6 start. “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. Manning and the offense, which has scored two touchdowns in the last three preseason game, are going to get about 18 snaps against the defending AFC East champions. The Patriots will be looking for their 12th division title in 14 years.
“The only thing that matters is the regular season,” Coughlin said when asked if the Giants’ first undefeated preseason since 2006 would mean anything. “What is important about preseason is improvement, production and feeling like people are in the right spots. That is the only thing I can attest to.”
Bill Belichick has tended to rest as many starters as possible in the final preseason game and this will be no different.
Jimmy Garoppolo, a second-round draft pick from Eastern Illinois, will make his first start at quarterback. He has pushed Ryan Mallett for the job of backing up Tom Brady.
Garoppolo has gone 24-for-37 for 334 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in the first three games.
“I think the experience for Jimmy will be one that will just be good for him, going through the whole process,” Belichick said. “I’m sure he’ll learn a lot.”
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski hasn’t played a preseason game after ACL and MCL surgery on his right knee in January and is unlikely to play tonight.
The game is important for players on the roster bubble. The final cut from 75 players to 53 must be completed by Saturday.
“It’s a big game for me,” said Patriots defensive end Michael Buchanan, a seventh-round pick a year ago. “It’s a big game for a lot of the younger guys here. It’s the last test to prove ourselves so definitely going to be a big challenge, but I’m looking forward to it.”
The Giants also have some players on the bubble, including former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, who is looking to keep a roster spot earned in 2011 after beating cancer.
“That’s just how it is,” Herzlich said. “The more things you can do the better, that’s how it is. Everyone is trying to get a job.”