by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
September 3, 2009

Ah, yes, the fourth and final pre-season game. The regular season’s ugliest cousin.

I probably got a half dozen e-mails over the last two days that all ended the same way – “let’s hope they get through Thursday night in one piece.”  I probably sent six just like them. I think this is all a function of that final pre-season game in 1989, when Andre Tippett, Garin Veris and Ronnie Lippett all went down with season-ending injuries. Pats fans who weren’t even born yet know about that game, such a bitter lesson was that.

Nothing like it has happened since, though by our general unease this evening, you’d think it did. Nevertheless, here are some final thoughts.

  • You may have noticed Bruce couldn’t reel in a Giants blogger to do Trading Places this week. They were probably busy polishing their trophy. You know, one little upset and they….WAIT A MINUTE….THA…THAT’S ANDY F’S MUSIC! Thanks to Andy, who joins us from Ultimate NYG. He writes:

I will just tell you that (free safety) CC Brown and Beatty (rookie offensive tackle) are going to get shredded.  Do not read into any of that because these guys are just showing that the Giants are not deep at OL and Safety.  Beatty should be good in a few years but this is too early.  Diehl never missed a start in football since something sick like the 8th grade.  So this is a fluke.

Rising Giants: LB Clint Sintim, WR Mario Manningham, WR Hakeem Nicks?

You will not see many starters for very long.  But they will keep Brown and Beatty out there longer because they need the work and no one behind them. That could get ugly.

The Giants are just trying to get out of this game w/o injuries.  The DL needs time to work tonight though because injuries in camp have prevented them from seeing minutes already.

4th year Giants players fighting for jobs: LB Gerris Wilkinson and WR Sinorce Moss.

Giants are thin at safety, thinner tonight. Will be very vulnerable, could be the Keystone Cops back there. Woof.

  • I’m kind of interested in watching the quarterbacks tonight, naturally. I figure when the Pats cut Kevin O’Connell last week, they essentially committed to Andrew Walter and Brian Hoyer as their reserves, at least to start the season (in one form or another). I’d like to see plenty of both tonight. What, you’re going to bring in someone else now?
  • From Walter, the presumptive QB off the bench, I want to see smoothness. The exchanges, the ball fakes, the footwork in the pocket and as he delivers the ball. He’s a pro – he ought to know what he’s doing by now, so let’s see some execution. I’d like to know this guy isn’t going to kill them if he has to come in. I care less about this from Hoyer right now – instead, it would be nice to get a better sense of his physical tools and his command of the proceedings.
  • Where else to look? How about tight end? Barring a last minute trade, it seems like two have played their way on to the team – Chris Baker and Dave Thomas. There will undoubtedly be a third on the final roster, so is it Alex Smith (the Pats surrendered a 4th round pick for him) or former starter Ben Watson, who didn’t exactly mount a salary drive in August.
  • Don’t you feel like the offensive line is largely set? The five starters plus Vollmer, Ohrnberger, and a center/guard (either Connolly or Wendell) makes eight. Now we’re into the fringe – any remaining possibilities would come from a group of O’Callaghan, Britt or fifth rounder Bussey.
  • I feel the same way about the secondary. Any mystery there? Meriweather, Sanders, Chung, McGowan on the back line. On the corners, Bodden, Wilhite, Butlter, Springs, Wheatley. Are we that intrigued by the fate of Ray Ventrone?
  • The linebackers are thin as an Olsen Twin but its gotten way too late for doing something significant about that. Ladies and gents, our pass rush hopes are hereby pinned on the defensive line. I’ve liked Tully Banta-Cain’s camp and there’s something there with Derrick Burgess, though it may take time for it to emerge. I’m willing to bet he center push from the Seymours, Warrens, Wilforks, Greens, Braces and Pryors will make a difference.
  • Between you and me, the receivers aren’t exactly popping off the screen, aside from the great Randy Moss. How’s it hangin’, Wes Welker? Kind of an important detail, especially since Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis still running routes in a dark closet. Julian Edelman is taking this Welker impression too far, by the way. I tell you who makes my team every time – Sam Aiken. I maintain he can play offense, and not just special teams.
  • I’m getting a little paranoid that personal favorite Sammy Morris won’t last next week – I think he’s the best Pats back over the last two years. But even I’ll admit that he can’t stay on the field, which is particularly frustrating from a player that can do so much. I agree that BenJarvus Green-Ellis is completely awesome against the second and third teamers, if that’s what you’re asking, so maybe they ought to keep five backs again.
  • Let’s hope they get through tonight in one piece.

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