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What to Watch in Giants Preseason Finale

One last step before the defense begins.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Nicks' return is one reason to pay attention to the Giants on Wednesday.

    We're just a week away from football that matters.

    It's a pretty glorious moment that is finally on the horizon after months of talking about lawsuits, concussions, suspensions and things that are an unworthy distraction from the NFL season. We're almost to the point where we can forget about all the real life matters and just focus on the games.

    Small-minded? Perhaps, but the games are what we're here for and the only reason anyone cares about the other business.

    Before we get to the games that count, there's the little business of the final preseason game, a.k.a. the week when people really feel like suckers for spending full price for a ticket because you have a better chance of seeing a starter at the supermarket than you do in the second half. The Giants and the Patriots will go through the paces on Wednesday night without too much of consequence on the line.

    Which isn't exactly the same as nothing of consequence. The Giants do have three players whose performance on Wednesday night will tell us something about the year to come.

    Hakeem Nicks: The receiver has missed the first three preseason games because of a broken foot, but he makes his return against the Patriots for a handful of plays on Wednesday. We imagine he'll see at least one pass in his direction, even though the Giants will be able to tell everything they need to know about the state of his foot from the way he runs and cuts.

    If all is well, the Giants offense will be primed to repeat last season's numbers. If there's a setback, Victor Cruz will be salsaing with a lot of people around him.

    Michael Coe: Coe did a nice job after Prince Amukamara got hurt and Bruce Johnson flopped last week and will try to repeat it against the Pats on Wednesday night. We don't know who will play for the Patriots because Bill Belichick keeps such things under lock and key, but Coe is likely playing for the starting job in Week One so even a brief test against good receivers would be nice.

    If Coe isn't up to the task, the Giants will be in a bit of a bind with a week to figure out an answer at a significant defensive position.

    Ramses Barden: Another guy who had a big game against the Bears, Barden will be trying to earn a roster spot after three disappointing years with the team. The question is whether he provides enough value as a receiver to justify keeping him over someone who can contribute on special teams.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.