|Don't consider this game a Super Bowl rematch|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 27 August 2008 13:48|
The starters won't be on the field either long enough or at all for anyone to get too wound up.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a question mark for the game because of a training-camp long injury to his right foot. Eli Manning and the Giants' first-team offense are going to be on the field for 10 plays.
And to be blunt, the only thing players are concerned about is leaving the game healthy as they look forward to their regular-season openers.
The Super Bowl champion Giants (1-2) kick off a week from Thursday in a nationally televised game against the Washington Redskins. The Patriots, whose only blemish last season was their 17-14 loss to the Giants in the title game, open at home against Kansas City on Sept. 7.
New York is particularly concerned about injuries after losing two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora to a season-ending knee injury last week against the Jets.
``It is a waste,'' Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce said of the preseason finale. ``We don't need to be playing these games. Obviously you see in the league that guys are getting hurt. You don't need to play. Obviously with us having a long season last year, going to the Super Bowl, playing more games in the preseason and having a risk of injuries is not smart.''
In other preseason action Thursday, Detroit at Buffalo, New York Jets at Philadelphia, Cincinnati at Indianapolis, Jacksonville at Washington, Atlanta at Baltimore, Carolina at Pittsburgh, Chicago at Cleveland, Tennessee at Green Bay, Minnesota at Dallas, Tampa Bay at Houston, Miami at New Orleans and St. Louis at Kansas City.
Friday closes the preseason schedule and features Denver at Arizona, San Diego at San Francisco and Oakland at Seattle.
The foot injury has prevented Brady from playing in the preseason, which explains to a great extent the Patriots' 0-3 record. The quarterback said earlier this week that he would be ready for the season opener even if he did not appear in the exhibition games.
Brady missed the Patriots' annual preseason dinner on Tuesday to take care of personal business in California.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin probably will not take any chances with leading receiver Plaxico Burress, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. An injury to his right ankle prevented him from practicing until recently, and Coughlin said he probably will not use him Thursday.
``Since I've been playing, I don't think half of us have played that last preseason game,'' added Burress, who barely practiced last season because of another injury to his right ankle.
The one thing both teams want is production from their starters.
``A lot is said about how preseason doesn't necessarily count, but in a sense it does,'' Patriots running back Sammy Morris said. ``Not in the matter of wins or losses, but in the matter of preparation. And it's our last game to get preparation. ... It's big for us and it's another opportunity to gain some consistency within the offensive unit.''
Morris was the Pats' leading rusher through six games last season, his first with the team, then missed the rest of the season with a chest injury. He said he's completely recovered. He almost certainly will make the team.
The only people who really benefit are the players on the bubble. Teams have to reduce their rosters to 53 players by Saturday and a few jobs will be at stake.
``What you would like to do is have a chance to play a lot of young guys and let them play and put them in situations and let them fend for themselves,'' Coughlin said. ``But obviously when the game is over you want them all standing tall and ready to go the next week, too.''
Most of the players said there would be a little chitchat with the Patriots before the game.
``They're just coming in to finish off their preseason and we are going out to do the same,'' Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said. ``We are going out to win, that is the only difference.''
At Seattle, on Friday, the game between the former AFC West rival Raiders and Seahawks will feature teams still making late roster decisions: Oakland's Todd Watkins, rookies Arman Shields and Chaz Schilens, Jonathan Holland and Chris McFoy are in the running for the final two receiver spots. Seattle's Seneca Wallace will start at quarterback instead of Charlie Frye. Frye is trying to win the backup job so that the Seahawks can use Wallace at wide receiver.
AP Sports Writer Howard Ulman in Foxborough, Mass. contributed to this report.