FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - These fourth preseason games usually yield little regarding the pending regular season. The starters play very little -- Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. didn't even step on the field Thursday night -- and the contests are more about evaluating the bottom of the roster.
But the Giants-Patriots game was an afterthought in the revelations of good news for star players on both teams.
Tom Brady was New England's conquering hero, and Jason Pierre-Paul could get his chance at that role for the Giants very soon.
Giants president John Mara confirmed to Newsday that the team has heard from the injured defensive end's representatives and expects him to report to the team early next week.
"If it's true, great,'' Tom Coughlin said. "Get him in here and let's see where we are.''
It could take a while to get him signed and into game shape -- the team has yet to examine the injuries he suffered in a July 4 fireworks accident, which reportedly include the amputation of his right index finger -- but there is a chance he could be on the field for the team before the end of the month.
Pierre-Paul currently is on the Giants' reserve/franchise tag list and will remain there until he signs a contract. He will not count against the 53-man roster that needs to be established Saturday.
It's long been thought that Pierre-Paul would arrive before the start of the regular season, as that was his only chance to receive the full $14.8 million of his franchise tag tender. The Giants have not rescinded that tag, but the amount could be negotiated down based on the medical evaluation and how many games the Giants believe he will play.
Pierre-Paul is said to have been rehabbing and recovering in Florida since the accident two months ago.
Pierre-Paul has gone into a regular season without any preseason snaps before. In 2013 he had back surgery in June and pushed to open the year as an active player. He wound up playing in only 11 games and had a career-low two sacks.
With the state of the Giants' pass rush, the team might just take that kind of production. Starting defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. missed a second straight game with a mysterious ankle injury and the front four has been unable to generate much in the way of pressure throughout the summer.
"We have good players out there, good players who know what they're doing," defensive end George Selvie told Newsday earlier this week. "We're a very solid defense. When everybody is healthy and on the field, we'll be good."
The "everybody" includes Pierre-Paul. And now it seems that's closer to reality.
As for the actual game, the Giants' pseudo-starters on offense played two drives (although some offensive linemen went deeper) and managed to take a 3-0 lead with a field goal on their second possession. Ryan Nassib, in his first professional start, played the entire game and recently signed emergency kicker Chris Boswell kicked four field goals for a 12-9 win. The Giants' defense was able to corral Patriots starting quarterback Ryan Lindley (usually a third-stringer) and his roster-bubble bunch, holding them to six first-half points.
Notes & quotes: WR Corey Washington (shoulder) and CB Trevin Wade (back), who were expected to play a great deal and compete for roster spots, were game-day scratches . . . TE Daniel Fells (shoulder) was injured in the first half and did not return. OL Brett Jones (knee) left in the second half . . . FB Nikita Whitlock changed his number from 49 to 35 and played some defensive back for the first time this preseason, as well as defensive line (he was a nose tackle in college) . . . Former Patriots RB Shane Vereen, who caught 11 passes for New England in last year's Super Bowl before signing with the Giants during the offseason, was booed by fans at Gillette Stadium after his first touch of the game. . . . OL Geoff Schwartz started the game at right guard, sat out the second series, then played right tackle on the third drive . . . The last time Manning did not play in a preseason finale was 2010.