In the fourth preseason game, most coaches give very limited playing time to key players. Some coaches make sure everyone who will play a lot in Week 1 of the regular season don't even sniff the field. That's smart. There's nothing to gain.
Tom Coughlin is a heck of a coach. He has taken two teams to Super Bowls, and he'll get Hall of Fame consideration some day (being on the East Coast won't hurt). Which makes his desire to use key players for a pretty significant stretch in the fourth preseason game just weird. And it cost him a running back that was expected to play a significant role in the offense.
Andre Brown has a fractured leg, the Giants announced. He suffered the injury in the second quarter Thursday against the Patriots, at a point when Brown should have been wearing a baseball hat on the sideline, resting up for the Cowboys game that matters next week.
Perhaps Coughlin didn't hear the uproar in the town over Jets coach Rex Ryan getting Mark Sanchez hurt behind a backup offensive line in the third quarter last week.
The Giants' starters played for the first quarter against New England. Eli Manning was still in late in the first quarter to throw a touchdown to Hakeem Nicks. Makes sense, considering those are young, inexperienced players who obviously need reps.
Brown was running the ball into the second quarter, before he got hurt. Brown is not some scrub; he was expected to get a significant amount of carries behind starter David Wilson. It just doesn't make much sense why he was banging away late in the second quarter of the last preseason game. That's true for any key running back whose chances of getting hurt grow with every carry.
Here was Coughlin's explanation for playing his starters from earlier this week, via Metro New York:
“I’d like to see some continuity and some execution, some performance,” Coughlin said, according to Metro New York. “I’d like to see us get the ball in the end zone [and] see us do well on third down. I’d like to see our passing game with our protection look like some type of an efficient operation. … I’d like to see progress. That’s really what I would like to see.”
The fourth preseason game is almost meaningless. The only real meaning (aside from the owners lining their wallets on those ticket sales) is for the players at the end of the roster fighting for jobs. So, let those guys play. Don't get a key contributor hurt for no reason.