EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In any other year, Tom Coughlin wouldn’t be happy playing an extended preseason schedule.
A four-game schedule might be considered too long, and playing in the Hall of Fame contest at the start of the month stretched it to five games. The campaign will wrap up Thursday night against the New England Patriots (2-1) at MetLife Stadium.
However, Coughlin isn’t complaining about an extra game during this training camp. The Giants have missed the postseason the past two years, and there’s been a lot of turnover and changes, highlighted by a newly installed West Coast offense under the guidance of former Packers assistant Ben McAdoo.
"We needed the work," said Coughlin, whose team went 7-9 last season after an 0-6 start. "We needed to be out here together, too."
Despite a 4-0 mark, Coughlin isn’t giving his starters a break in meeting the Patriots in the preseason finale for the 10th straight season. Manning and the offense, which has scored two touchdowns in the last three preseason game, are going to get about 18 snaps against the defending AFC East champions. The Patriots will be looking for their 12th division title in 14 years.
"The only thing that matters is the regular season," Coughlin said when asked if the Giants’ first undefeated preseason since 2006 would mean anything. "What is important about preseason is improvement, production and feeling like people are in the right spots. That is the only thing I can attest to.
Bill Belichick has tended to rest as many starters as possible in the final preseason game and this will be no different.
Jimmy Garoppolo, a second-round draft pick from Eastern Illinois, will make his first start at quarterback. He has pushed Ryan Mallett for the job of backing up Tom Brady.
Garoppolo has gone 24-for-37 for 334 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in the first three games.
"I think the experience for Jimmy will be one that will just be good for him, going through the whole process," Belichick said. "I’m sure he’ll learn a lot."
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski hasn’t played a preseason game after ACL and MCL surgery on his right knee in January and is unlikely to play Thursday.
The game is important for players on the roster bubble. The final cut from 75 players to 53 must be completed by Saturday.
"It’s a big game for me," said Patriots defensive end Michael Buchanan, a seventh-round pick a year ago. "It’s a big game for a lot of the younger guys here. It’s the last test to prove ourselves so definitely going to be a big challenge, but I’m looking forward to it."
The Giants also have some players on the bubble, including former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, who is looking to keep a roster spot earned in 20111 after beating cancer.
"That’s just how it is," Herzlich said. "The more things you can do the better, that’s how it is. Everyone is trying to get a job."
CLEVELAND -- Browns star wide receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended the entire NFL season for another violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.
The league announced Wednesday that arbitrator Harold Henderson upheld Gordon’s suspension, which the Pro Bowler appealed. Gordon met with league officials in New York on Aug. 4 and he and the Browns had been patiently awaiting a resolution.
Gordon’s suspension is effective immediately and he will have to apply for reinstatement following the season. Gordon is not allowed to practice with the team, attend meetings or other club functions.
Gordon served a two-game suspension for a drug violation.
"I’d like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans," Gordon said in a statement. "I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn’t exercise better discretion and judgment in my case. I would like to sincerely thank the people who have been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging time, including my family, my agent, my union, my legal team, and the Cleveland Browns staff."
The Browns have been waiting four months for a resolution to Gordon’s case. The talented 23-year-old led the league with 1,646 yards receiving last season despite being banned for the first two games for a failed drug test. He became the first player in league history to record consecutive 200-yard games.
Gordon’s loss is a crippling blow to Cleveland’s offense, depriving the Browns of their best big-play threat. He averaged 18.9 yards per catch in 2013.
The Browns took a risk in selecting Gordon in the 2012 supplemental draft. He failed at least three drug tests in college for marijuana.
Newton will be ready
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cam Newton says he feels great and "there’s no doubt" in his mind he’ll be ready to play in the Panthers season opener Sept. 7 against Tampa Bay.
Carolina’s fourth-year quarterback is recovering from a hairline fracture to multiple ribs and says he’s improving with each day.
Newton says, "I’m moving forward and trying to stay optimistic about this process."
Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he certain Newton will play in Week 1.
Newton will travel with the team to Pittsburgh but will not play against the Steelers Thursday night in the preseason finale.
Newton, who has never missed a start in three seasons, says he’ll continue to receive treatment so "when I’m called upon I won’t have to hold back."