The starters for both the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals aren’t expected to see much playing time when the two teams meet on Friday night, but the first quarter has a chance to be just as entertaining as some regular season games. Two of the NFL’s top receivers will go head-to-head in Cincinnati in Week 1 of the 2015 preseason.
Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will play in a game for the first time since December when he caught a season-high 12 passes for 185 yards and cemented his spot among the league’s best players. A.J. Green might not have gotten as much attention as last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in his fourth consecutive season since being drafted, despite missing three games.
Beckham will catch passes from Eli Manning, who could play two series before he calls it a night. But the two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback will be without his No.2 receiver. Victor Cruz saw his season end last year in Week 6 when he tore the patellar tendon in his right knee, and New York might hold him out of all four preseason games.
"I'd love at least one game, a couple snaps, whatever they feel is right," Cruz said via ESPN.com. "I want to get little bit of work and get tackled a few times, and see how it feels and stuff like that, but that's about it."
Cruz isn’t the only New York starter that won’t suit up. Cornerback Prince Amukamara, tackle Geoff Schwartz and linebacker Jameel McClain will sit. Tackle Will Beatty is injured and he could miss at least the first month of the season.
The likes of Beckham and Green could make a few exciting plays, but Geno Atkins might be the player on defense to watch in Friday’s contest. The defensive tackle tore his ACL in 2013, and he wasn’t nearly as effective last year as he was before the injury. But reports from Cincinnati’s training camp seem to indicate that Atkins is better than ever.
"He's our best player," Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said via Pete Prisco of CBS Sports.com. "He's come back in great shape. He's responded. When he came back in the spring, the quickness was back. You could see he was Geno again."
Cincinnati could use an improved Atkins on defense, considering they ranked 22nd in yards allowed for the 2014 season. The Bengals made the playoffs last year, but lost in the wild card round of the playoffs like they’ve done every season with Andy Dalton at quarterback.
Start Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC (New York) and CBS (Cincinnati)
Betting Odds: Cincinnati-2.5, 36.5