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Five things to watch: Patriots vs. Giants

With the Patriots playing their final preseason game against the Giants, Greg A. Bedard examines the keys to the game:

1. Don’t expect the starters to last long: Giants coach Tom Coughlin indicated that his starters would play briefly, but the team is dealing with a lot of injuries so some might have to play more than others. If the Patriots starters play, expect it to also be a cameo. The goal is Sept. 9. The health of the team is paramount.

2. Good test for secondary: Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks told reporters he thinks he’ll see his first action since returning from a broken foot. Former UMass standout Victor Cruz is one of the league’s emerging stars at slot receiver. Should be an opportunity for cornerbacks Devin McCourty, Ras-I Dowling, and Kyle Arrington to match up against top talent.

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3. Trying to secure roster spots: The players really in the hunt for the final spots are receivers Julian Edelman and Jeremy Ebert, guard Donald Thomas, centers Dan Koppen and Nick McDonald, left tackle Darrion Weems, ends Jermaine Cunningham and Trevor Scott, end/tackle Justin Francis, linebackers Niko Koutouvides and Jeff Tarpinian, and defensive backs Nate Ebner, Marquice Cole, and Alfonzo Dennard.

4. Improved tackle play: Both left tackle Nate Solder and right tackle Marcus Cannon showed a great deal of improvement against the Buccaneers. and they should be able to continue that trend.

5. Local connections: Former BC star Mark Herzlich is dealing with a hip pointer as he tries to grab the starting middle linebacker spot from Chase Blackburn. Guard Chris Snee and linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka were also standouts for the Eagles. Long snapper Zak DeOssie (Phillips Academy/Brown) is the son of former Patriots linebacker Steve DeOssie. Giants secondary coach Peter Giunta is from Salem and played at Northeastern.

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