- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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Their struggles in their 24-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens is nothing that can't be fixed according several players. In other words, this is what the preseason is for.
"No concerns," quarterback Eli Manning said. "I can't tell you what my preseason record is over the last six years. I don't know if it is good or bad or what. We know we are capable and have great talent on this team."
"Definitely, we are where we need to be," Manning added. "It is just correcting some of the mental mistakes."
Mentally, the Giants may have just been in preseason mode although last Saturday was the team's third preseason game -- the game when the Giants are supposed to get a better look at how the starters will look this season.
When the starters were on the field in the first half, they were badly outplayed by the Ravens, who led 17-0 before the Giants made a field goal at the end of the first half.
Head coach Tom Coughlin wasn't thrilled with the effort and execution. Still, a few Giants said that they are not worried about their performance against the Ravens. They believe the mistakes are easily correctable and that the effort will be ramped up when the games actually count.
"Preseason is still preseason," said safety Antrel Rolle. "Guys can put whatever emphasis on it as they want but we understand the concept of what we have to do here and we are definitely going to get it done. There is still room for us to get better."
"I play the preseason like it's preseason," he continued. "I go out there and play and fly around but at same time I don't put a huge emphasis on the preseason. A lot of teams are going to turn the switch on once the regular season comes and we are going to be one of those teams. As far as panicking where we need to be, I think we're OK."
Manning, showing a bit of rust after missing the second preseason game with a head laceration, completed just 9-of-18 passes for 63 yards and one interception. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for 58 yards rushing on 11 carries in the first half but the team couldn't score outside of a field goal that was set up by Corey Webster's interception and return to the Baltimore 32-yard-line.
The defense couldn't stop Joe Flacco and Baltimore's no-huddle offense. With cornerbacks Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross out, the Giants defense couldn't get off the field. Baltimore tight end Todd Heap had six receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown.
A few defensive players said the team was not expecting to see so much no-huddle and passing. Coughlin also said that there was a lot of single coverage played to better gauge the cornerbacks fighting for roster spots with cuts needing to be made this week.
"I'm not going to hang those guys that were out there playing one-on-one battle and put it on their heads," said safety Deon Grant. "It was just some guys not doing what the D-coordinator [Perry Fewell] taught us as far as within the defense. For example, if we are supposed to be press, we might have been playing off on that particular down and allowing them to do what they needed to do. If you had outside leverage, you just choose to go inside leverage ... it goes on and on. Simple things like that. Regardless of what kind of routes they were running, it would have been defended if we were just playing what we were supposed to be playing as far as leverage."
On the other side of the ball, Manning said the team made mental mistakes as well. The Giants have one final preseason game against the Patriots on Thursday, and then a little time to correct their mistakes before the Carolina Panthers arrive to town on Sept. 12.
But veteran linebacker Keith Bulluck doesn't want his teammates to think that they can just turn it on for Carolina just because the preseason is over.
"It is still preseason, it is still early," Bulluck said. "In August you can't really get too concerned."
"[But] this game, you just can't turn it on. Just figure, 'OK, Carolina is coming this week, let's turn it on.' You got to work out a lot of kinks that you have now and go full speed every opportunity you get to practice and hone your craft. Guys that are holding back, it's going to make for a tough season for possibly them and the team."
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1dEric D. Williams