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A Giant Start

by Kenny Ducey
A A

RB Michael Cox (#29) returns a kick during Giants practice Saturday

As Preseason Opens in Pittsburgh, Spotlight Shines on Young Guns

Brandon Mosley, Michael Cox, and Ryan Nassib aren’t exactly household names in New York, but they’d like to be one day.

The three Giants met the media Thursday as they held their final practice in New Jersey before beginning the preseason Saturday at Pittsburgh, and none are more excited to play than Mosley.

A fourth-round selection the 2012 NFL Draft, Brandon Mosley played in just two preseason games before he suffered an ankle injury and was and placed on IR last August. 12 months later, the now-healthy offensive tackle stood grinning as he chatted about how anxious he was to get out on the field.

“I still went in meetings every day, sat there and watched film…did a lot of mental reps trying to get my knowledge better so when I got back I could fly around and have fun,” Mosley said.

And in order to handle the pesky Steelers defense, he’ll need to do a little flying around.

He’s been mentally coached by starting RG Chris Snee, who made his return from the Physically Unable to Perform list Tuesday. With only a few days of practice under his belt, though, Head Coach Tom Coughlin opted to go with Mosley to play with the first team on Saturday while Snee sits out.

“He’s been impressive. He’s a tough kid. He’s battling,” Coughlin mentioned of Mosley, who said he hasn’t sat out this long since grade school.

Mosley won’t be the only one trying to prove his worth on Saturday, though, as Cox and Nassib will take their first snaps on an NFL Field as well.

For Cox, a seventh-round choice this year, the opportunity to take a roster spot is there for him as he’s looked good running the ball early on. Competing with David Wilson, Andre Brown, Da’Rel Scott, and Ryan Torain for carries won’t be easy though, which is why it works to his advantage that he’s had experience returning kicks. “I’m trying to make the team any way I can and contribute  any way I can, so if it ends up being that way I’d be more than happy,” said Cox.

Ryan Torain left Tuesday’s practice with a concussion, so at least on Saturday, Cox will get an increased look.

As for Nassib, he’s likely sitting between backup QB David Carr and new Free Agent acquisition Curtis Painter on the depth chart, but that doesn’t mean Saturday’s showdown doesn’t mean a lot to him.

“I’m always going to prepare like I’m a starter, that’s just how I’ve always been, ever since I was back at college. That’s just what I do because on any given day something can happen so you’ve got to be ready,” he noted.

It’ll be a more relaxed first game than, say, Geno Smith’s, as the Syracuse product knows who’ll be the Week 1 starter, barring injury of course – Eli Manning. But everyone, including Nassib, knows he still has lots to prove.

He’s simply been boom-or-bust over the course of camp, completing passes with ease to his receivers some days and tossing them to defenders on others. And since he’s not necessarily the QB of the future for the Giants, he won’t have a guaranteed spot on the roster by any means.

Yet the potential is certainly there for Nassib to eventually help out the club, after all, Eli Manning is entering his 11th year in the league. He can’t QB Big Blue forever.

It’s not an easy task to master the offense, which means it a good thing he’ll sit on the sidelines this year and be a sponge.

“This is complex but learnable so it’s going to take some time but once you know it, once you understand the philosophies, you’ll be alright,” Nassib said.

On Saturday, when the third unit comes out, it’ll be Nassib at the helm, and he’ll have to keep the Giants in the game. After all, the word ‘win’ was said quite a few times Thursday.

“He’ll kind of revert back to what he’s used to doing and what he’s had success doing. Hopefully he can calm his mind down enough…and we’ll all be fine,” said David Carr.

So come game time, all three of these youngsters will be motivated to perform. Whether it be on the first snap of the game, or the final one, they all share the same goal – make the team and help the Giants beat the Steelers. For some, the former may not be a challenge, but the latter certainly will be.