Patriots Vs. Giants: Pats Wrap Up Preseason With Super Bowl Rematch

(Sports Network) - Eli Manning drew plenty of attention with his recent self- comparison to Tom Brady, though the New York Giants quarterback may not get the opportunity to support his case when his team takes on Brady's Patriots Thursday at Gillette Stadium in the final 2011 preseason test for both clubs.

The Giants will be entering the game on a mere two days of rest after Hurricane Irene postponed their originally-scheduled showdown with the in-city rival New York Jets from last Saturday to Monday. Though head coach Tom Coughlin hasn't publicly said whether Manning or the rest of his starters will play after such a short layoff, odds are their participation will be limited as best.

Manning may need the additional work, though, after struggling all throughout the preseason's first three weeks. Operating an offense that lost wide receiver Steve Smith, tight end Kevin Boss and longtime linemen Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert, the eighth-year pro has completed just 49.1 percent (27- of-55) of his attempts for 301 yards and no touchdowns while throwing two interceptions.

Both of Manning's picks came in Monday's 14-3 setback to the Jets, in which the 2004 No. 1 overall selection finished with 200 yards on 15-of-30 passing.

If Manning isn't on the field Thursday, veterans David Carr and Sage Rosenfels will continue their battle to be the primary backup. Carr had a chance to take control of the job after entering Monday's loss in the second half, but went just 5-of-12 for 36 yards.

Rosenfels hasn't played in either of New York's last two contests due to a strep throat infection as well as an ailing back.

It's been a rough preseason as well for the Giants' defense, which has been beset by injuries to cornerbacks Terrell Thomas (torn ACL, out for season) and Prince Amukamara (broken foot) as well as standout pass rusher Osi Umenyiora (knee surgery). Two more key players, All-Pro end Justin Tuck (shoulder) and linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka (groin), were forced to exit Monday's game, though neither's ailment is believed to be serious.

The Patriots began their 2011 schedule with a flourish, delivering lopsided wins over Jacksonville (47-12) and Tampa Bay (31-14), before running into a determined Detroit squad this past Saturday. The up-and-coming Lions piled up 468 total yards, 354 of which came through the air, on the New England defense, while harassing Brady all evening long en route to an impressive 34-10 rout.

Brady was off the mark against Detroit's heavy rush, with the reigning league MVP hitting on only 12-of-22 throws for 145 yards with one touchdown and one interception before being replaced early in the third quarter.

While it's unclear if for or how long Bill Belichick will run out his regulars this week, Brady did work the entire first quarter in New England's 20-17 loss to the Giants in last year's preseason finale. Two starters that are almost certain to be held out, however, are wide receiver Wes Welker and guard Dan Connolly after both got hurt in the Detroit game.

Welker sustained a mild neck injury late in the first half, while Connolly suffered an apparent ankle sprain.

On the flip side, rookie running back Shane Vereen may make a belated pro debut in Thursday's tilt after returning to practice this week. The Pats' second-round pick in April's draft had been sidelined with a hamstring injury.

The Giants and Patriots have met in the preseason 20 times previously, including every year since 2005. New York extended its lead in the series to 12-8 with its aforementioned three-point home win in 2010.

The teams will also battle in Foxborough during Week 9 of this year's regular season in the first meaningful matchup between the two since Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants upset the then-unbeaten Patriots by a 17-14 score at University of Phoenix Stadium in February of 2008.

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