I tuned in to the first half of Giants-Panthers last night on pre- Monday Night Football. Here are some thoughts:
** It didn't take long for Osi Umenyiora to show how he's recovered from torn cartilage in his knee, which sidelined him for all of last season. On the Panthers' sixth offensive play in the first quarter, Umenyiora went around Jordan Gross to combine on a sack with Jay Alford and strip Jake Delhomme of the football. For years, we focused on Jon Runyan vs. Michael Strahan. The current and future matchup looks like it could be Umenyiora vs. Jason Peters, although keep in mind that the Giants could switch up where they line up Umenyiora. For the record, multiple people reported that the Eagles were set to go after Gross in the offseason, had he not re-signed with the Panthers.
** As much as we like to focus on Eli Manning when discussing the Giants, the team is built on two things: rushing the passer and running the ball. Brandon Jacobs looked good last night, but more importantly, the Giants' backups were very impressive. New York lost Derrick Ward to Tampa Bay in the offseason, but Ahmad Bradshaw carried five times for 35 yards, including a bruising 19-yard touchdown. Third-stringer Danny Ware also had a 36-yard touchdown catch.
** Nice to see another team have special teams problems in its first preseason game. The Eagles' special teams were a disaster Thursday night, and the Giants had a punt blocked, resulting in a safety for Carolina.
** I wanted the Tony Kornheiser thing to work on Monday Night Football, but the truth is, it didn't. I liked the three-man booth of Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden. Gruden brought some good information to the table, and it didn't hurt that the Panthers, a team he coached against twice a year, were involved in last night's game. I like Gruden's coaching/insider knowledge, but one thing he'll have to work on is finding ways to explain the technical aspects of the game to those of us who haven't played or coached at a high level. Jaws does a very good job of this, and I think Gruden will be able to grasp that aspect of announcing as he gets more games under his belt.
** Gruden became the first person I've ever heard to refer to his partner as Ron and Jaworski on two separate occasions. Does anyone else call him anything other than Jaws? I feel like even his kids and wife probably call him Jaws. It's a great nickname. But maybe I'll start referring to him as Ron from now on. It really cracks me up for some reason.
** I still don't know what the Panthers were thinking with that offseason extension for Delhomme. A five-interception performance at home in the NFC divisional round earned him a five-year deal worth $42.5 million. I don't get it. The Panthers' identity is similar to the Giants' though -- good defense and run the ball. DeAngelo Williams looked good last night, and second-year back Jonathan Stewart did not play. Sean McDermott and Joe Mays will get a test right away in Week 1 when the Birds travel to Carolina.