As the New York Giants hit the field for their second preseason game, facing the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, there are a lot of storylines to watch in this matchup.
New York will likely be deploying its starters for the final time before the regular season opener on Sept. 11, setting the stage for the big names to get their work in before things slow down. Thanks to several position battles, it means Sunday’s matchup will have added importance.
Of course, there will be even more going on with backups and those simply competing for spots on the roster. With that in mind, here are five things to watch out for in the Giants vs Bengals game.
Related: New York Giants schedule
Tyrod Taylor gets his shot with the first-team offense
Brian Daboll announced this week that quarterback Tyrod Taylor will receive first-team reps with the offense. While he made it clear the decision isn’t a reflection on Daniel Jones’s performance in training camp, it sparked plenty of speculation.
Anyone who has witnessed the performances of Jones and Taylor can tell you that Taylor is playing better football right now. However, he has only faced the Giants’ second-team defense this summer.
If the Bengals starters are on the field for an extended period of time, we’ll get to see how he plays against a first-team defense. If Taylor plays well and the offense looks crisp, then Jones may have a shorter lease on the starting job when the season starts.
Aaron Robinson looks to rebound
The preseason opener saw cornerback Aaron Robinson deliver a rough performance. New England’s second-string receivers consistently past him, he drew a questionable taunting penalty and gave up a touchdown.
With Adoree Jackson at the other corner, teams are going to go after Robinson this season. So it’s imperative that the 24-year-old corner steps as the No.2 coverage defender. Fortunately, defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale believes there is room for improvement that can be achieved.
“I think with (Aaron Robinson) A-Rob, first of all, he’s had a tremendous camp. You know, there were some 50/50 balls. The penalty, I mean you can’t have a penalty down there in the red zone. You can’t have lack of communication because that’s just kryptonite to your red zone defense or your two-minute defense in any of those situations. But we preach and harp on that. There were some 50/50 balls that we won, and there’s some 50/50 balls that we lost. Just playing out there on the island, you’ve just got to win more 50/50 balls.”New York Giants defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale on Aaron Robinson (via Giants.com)
It will be interesting to see how Robinson responds on Sunday because the Bengals will go after him.
Offensive line play
The offensive line played well on the first series last week, as the drive ended with a field goal. But once guard Shane Lemieux left the game due to a foot injury after the first drive, the line looked a bit shaky in their pass protection and gave up a sack on Jones.
Lemieux won’t play on Sunday and Cincinnati has a talented front seven that played a pivotal role in them reaching the Super Bowl last season. This will be a good test for Big Blue’s offensive to see how they’re progressing this summer.
Collin Johnson and Richie James seek an encore
Two of the players who have made the most of their opportunity throughout training camp are receivers Collin Johnson and Richie James. Their production continued against the Patriots as Johnson had seven receptions for 82 yards, and James had three receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown.
Each player saw reps with the first-team offense this week in practice and they’ll look to further their chances of making the roster with an encore performance. For a team that needs playmakers and every advantage possible, either one of these players stepping up would be huge.
Kayvon Thibodeaux gets another chance to shine
Although defenses like to keep it simple and vanilla in the preseason, fans are anxiously awaiting for fifth-overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux to make his first impactful play.
With the exception of causing a false start, Thibodeaux had an uneventful night against the Patriots. Thibodeaux has all of the tools to play at an elite level in the NFL, and it’s only a matter of time before we see him record his first sack or force a fumble.
Related: NFL power rankings