1) WR Jerrel Jernigan
– Who is Jerrel Jernigan and what can he do? That’s what everyone is trying to figure out about last year’s third-round draft choice. No one suffered the setbacks of the lockout-shortened offseason more than Jernigan, who didn’t record a catch all season. Coming from a completely foreign system at Troy, Jernigan now has a year under his belt and an opportunity to step into the third wide receiver role.
Jernigan did, however, gain NFL experience in the return game last season. He will have the same chance this season as the top punt and kick returner on the Giants unofficial depth chart
2) LB Keith Rivers
– There’s a lot of potential upside in trading for a former ninth overall pick, and Rivers wants to show he’s that same linebacker from his “Club 55” days back at USC. Rivers missed all of 2011 with a wrist injury, which only added to a series of setbacks in his career with his former team, the Cincinnati Bengals.
Rivers added another element of competition to the linebacker corps – which coaches hope make the group stronger – but his personal performance on the field will be something to watch for.
3) DT Marvin Austin
– Every day is one more day longer that he hasn’t played in a meaningful game. After tearing his pectoral muscle in the second preseason game last year, Austin’s rookie season ended before it had a chance to begin. He hasn’t played since late December 2009 when he was still in college, and Friday is another step closer to seeing a real season.
No one is more curious than himself to see how quickly he can shake off the rust, and defensive line coach Robert Nunn has praised his “mental approach” in being patient with his return.
4) S Will Hill
– Everyone likes a good comeback story, especially from a local player. The New Jersey native (and St. Peter’s Prep alum) went undrafted out of Florida in 2011, but now has a shot with the defending Super Bowl champs. Hill has been a name thrown around often during training camp, and Friday he’ll have the chance to put it in on the line.
5) WR David Douglas
– Last but not least, the Arizona product accomplished the first goal of any undrafted rookie: get Coach Coughlin to notice you. That’s exactly what Coughlin did a week ago after a spectacular catch in practice, and ever since then, Douglas is making the most of his opportunity. A lot of people will be curious to see if it translates to game day.