- Last Updated: 6:24 AM, August 11, 2012
- Posted: 2:36 AM, August 11, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A jumble of enticing talent intertwined with glaring gaffes highlighted and low-lighted last night’s preseason opener for the Giants, as the Super Bowl champions unveiled some youngsters who produced spills and thrills in a typically-uneven 32-31 preseason loss to the Jaguars.
“We start men, we didn’t start very well, but we start,’’ coach Tom Coughlin said.
The championship coach was feeling a bit down about all the miscues that turned a comfy 24-7 second-quarter lead and a 31-21 fourth-quarter advantage into a loss that will soon be forgotten — as long as Coughlin is able to clean up what he called “a sloppy, sloppy finish.’’
Of course, the majority of the players on the field for the finish will not be with the team for the Sept. 5 regular-season opener, and rookies such as David Wilson and Jayron Hosley — who at times were breathtakingly good — won’t be immediately thrust into the prime roles they filled on a steamy evening at EverBank Field.
The Giants starters on both sides of the ball played into the second quarter and left the field leading 10-7.
“I thought there were some good things,’’ said Eli Manning, who directed one touchdown drive and one field-goal drive in his three offensive series.
On defense, the Giants looked a lot like they did for long stretches last season. Their starters were shredded on the opening drive as the Jaguars went 89 yards on 13 plays, and it was a particularly rough starting debut for cornerback Prince Amukamara.
General manager Jerry Reese has challenged Amukamara to “play like a first-round pick,’’ but he’s going to have to do better to live up to his draft status. The Prince looked like a commoner, getting beat twice on the first series.
First, he failed to stay with Mike Thomas on what turned into a 29-yard completion from Blaine Gabbert. Three plays later, Gabbert exploited Amukamara again, this time with Cecil Shorts, who ran a fade into the end zone and left Amukamara behind on a 3-yard lob for a touchdown to make it 7-0.
Amukamara got some measure of redemption on the next series, forcing a fumble when he separated Shorts from the ball, allowing Justin Tuck to recover on the Jaguars 29-yard line. That led to D.J. Ware’s 2-yard touchdown run to put the Giants up 10-7.
“It was big for Prince to force that turnover,’’ Tuck said.
“I bounced back and made a play for the team and changed the whole momentum,’’ added Amukamara.
There were errors down the stretch that prompted Coughlin to say: “We also have a number of people who quite frankly don’t know what they’re doing. Even though they may have some talent and some ability they’ve got to spend a little more time trying to figure out what we’re asking them to do.’’
Wilson, the first-round pick from Virginia Tech, turned on the jets and showed off his speed on a 48-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. Last season, the longest kick return for the Giants was only 40 yards. Wilson also had runs of 26 and 17 yards, but he botched a play in the two-minute drill, not hearing the call and failing to make himself available for a handoff from quarterback Ryan Perrilloux that never went down.
“That was an alert play and I thought the play that was first was second,’’ Wilson said. “Just a mistake, you can’t have those mistakes in critical situations like I had. Lucky it was a preseason game and it doesn’t go on our record. It’s something I definitely want to bounce back from and show the coaches I definitely know what I’m doing and they can trust me in crucial situations.’’
Third-round pick Jayron Hosley, a college teammate of Wilson’s, was effective on his first two punt returns, but he and second-year Jerrel Jernigan both muffed punts, which didn’t sit well with Coughlin.
On the flip side, rookie receiver Rueben Randle, taken in the second round out of LSU, caught a fourth-quarter touchdown pass.Follow @NYPostsports