FOXBORO — The final exhibition game is usually the time for first stringers to rest.
Not this time for the New York Giants and New England Patriots.
The teams with two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL need to solve their offensive problems tonight as the regular season looms.
“We have to play better,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. “We have to be better in the red zone and convert on third downs, so there’s some room for improvement.”
The Patriots (2-1) will face the Giants (1-2) for the ninth straight time in an exhibition finale. Tom Brady expects to play even though he’s played in only two of the Patriots’ last nine final preseason games.
He played very well in his first two exhibition games, then directed an offense that lost three fumbles and an interception on its first five series in a 40-9 loss to the Detroit Lions.
Brady wants more playing time with his rebuilt group of receivers. Of his top five, three are rookies, Danny Amendola signed as a free agent and Julian Edelman has been sidelined for part of training camp.
“The game experience and being in there with guys you haven’t played with is very important,” Brady said. “We’ve had a lot of different guys, different faces, especially at the skill positions, that have to be a big part of our offense this year.”
Amendola had a head start in learning the offense in 2011, when he was with the St. Louis Rams under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who has that job now with the Patriots.
“I had my foot in the door coming in with Josh being in St. Louis a couple of years ago, so I knew the verbiage,” Amendola said.
He and Brady, he said, have “covered everything that we need to. It’s just a matter of putting it in the game plan, what we want to do that week, and executing it in the games.”