Eli Manning, Daniel Jones
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

Although several starters will see limited or no action in the New York Giants preseason opener, there are still compelling storylines.

Jason Leach

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—After two weeks of training camp, the New York Giants will finally get to hit someone wearing a different uniform. They’ll take on the New York Jets in the preseason opener Thursday night at MetLife Stadium.

It’s odd to see these two teams play in Week 1 of the preseason. These two normally play in the preseason dress rehearsal that comes in Week 3.

Following Tuesday’s practice, head coach Pat Shurmur wouldn’t commit on which starters would or would not play. But the belief is that players such as Eli Manning and Saquon Barkley will see little if any action on Thursday night.

Shurmur and the rest of the coaching staff have talked about how pleased they are with how the team has done in training camp. Now they’ll get a chance to evaluate them against an opponent.

How will Daniel Jones fare in his first NFL action?

All eyes will be on the No. 6 pick in the draft when he takes the field on Thursday. Aside from a few misfires, Jones has looked solid in camp, playing with the second-team offense. But it will be interesting to see how he does in his first NFL action, especially against the blitz. Also, we’ll see him for the first time in the NFL with defenders who actually want to hit him.

Shurmur spoke about what he expects to see from his young quarterback in the preseason opener.

“The preseason games are very important, especially for the quarterback to be able to go out there,” Shurmur said. “It’s the next real step in his process, so to speak. We’re looking forward to seeing him go out and execute.”

The communication of the new secondary

There are many new faces in the Giants secondary including Jabrill Peppers, Antoine Bethea, and rookies DeAndre Baker, Julian Love, and Corey Ballentine.

Continuity and communication are key for all units on a football team, but especially the secondary. Simple miscommunications can result in touchdowns. Thursday will be a good test for the new-look secondary to ensure that everybody is on the same page. Keep an eye on any blown coverages to gauge whether or not the communication is on point.

The revamped offensive line

For the first time in years, the Giants should have an average to an above-average offensive line thanks to the additions of right guard Kevin Zeitler, and right tackle Mike Remmers.

The starting offsensive line might only play a few series but they’ll face a formidable Jets front seven that includes Leonard Williams, C.J. Mosley, and rookie Quinnen Williams. Thursday will be a good test for the revamped offensive line.

The competition to be Saquon Barkley’s backup

One of the tightest competitions so far in training camp has been for the role of Saquon Barkley’s understudy. Wayne Gallman, Rod Smith, and Paul Perkins have all seen significant reps with the second-team offense.

As of right now, it’s hard to say who has the inside track on being No. 2 on the depth chart. If someone can stand out and shine on Thursday, it will bode well for them in this tight competition.

Will the Giants be able to generate a pass rush?

If the Giants are going to improve on their 5-11 record from a season ago, they’re going to have to do better than the 30 sacks they registered in 2018. To address this area of weakness the Giants signed free agent outside linebacker Markus Golden and drafted Old Dominion edge rusher Oshane Ximines.

The Giants are banking on the additions of Golden and Ximines, along with the progression of Lorenzo Carter and B.J. Hill. Now we’ll see if they’ll be able to disrupt Sam Darnold and the other Jet quarterbacks.

Players who have shined in training camp

There are always players who manage to play their way into the conversation for a final roster spot. At the start of camp, they were overlooked. But there have been a few players who are making themselves hard to ignore.

Some of these players include wide receivers Alonzo Russell, and Reggie White Jr., tight end C.J. Conrad, and cornerbacks Corey Ballentine and Antonio Hamilton. All of these players should see significant playing time on Thursday and have a chance to show that they have what it takes to make a 53 man roster.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.