Daniel Jones, Kayvon Thibodeaux
Syndication: The Record

The Giants open their preseason slate Thursday against the Patriots in Foxborough. We will finally see this team suit up in the Joe Schoen-Brian Daboll era.

The score means nothing, of course. But there are still various reasons to tune in.

Here are five things to watch:

The beginning of the end? Signs point toward this being Daniel Jones’ final year with the Giants. Schoen elected not to pick up his fifth-year option — the young quarterback will need to make a Josh Allen-esque leap while the Giants win games in order for him to be back in 2023. Odds are only one scenario, if any, will occur.

But it still should be intriguing to see Jones in this new Daboll- and Mike Kafka-led offense.


Former Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s prehistoric offense hindered Jones’ development for much of the last two years. Freddie Kitchens, who was the interim offensive play-caller last year following Garrett’s mid-season firing, couldn’t get much out of No. 8 either.

Daboll is an offensive mastermind who played a huge role in the development of Allen and the success of the Buffalo Bills over the last three seasons. He runs a pass-happy offense that will look to maximize the talent of the available weapons, such as running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Kadarius Toney.

Jones could start to quiet the doubters by showing poise and comfort in Daboll’s system. Or, he could struggle mightily against the Pats defense and set the fanbase ablaze.

Good luck, Daniel.

Barkley’s resurgence. Barkley has dealt with various injuries over the last few years. This includes an ACL tear that caused him to miss almost all of the 2020 season. And most could tell that injury slowed him down last year — his hesitancy was evident and he was nowhere near the back he was in 2018 (when he won Rookie of the Year).

But a year removed from recovery, Barkley is looking to regain that 2018 form. And Daboll should be giving him the necessary opportunities to do so.

In training camp, Barkley has been getting receiver reps with a reserve running back in the backfield — he won’t be your conventional running back in 2022. Daboll will wish to maximize his talent. We could get an initial glimpse of that Thursday night.

Chemistry building. Continuity is a prerequisite of great offensive line chemistry. Unfortunately, the Giants don’t have much continuity across their current projected starting unit.

While left tackle Andrew Thomas is coming off a strong season, left guard Shane Lemieux missed virtually all of last year with a knee injury. Center Jon Feliciano (free-agent signee), right guard Mark Glowinski (free-agent signee), and right tackle Evan Neal (rookie drafted No. 7 overall) are all newcomers.

This offensive line has the potential to be the organization’s best in a decade (which isn’t saying a whole lot). But there will be growing pains due to the starters’ lack of experience with one another.

The line needs to start building legitimate chemistry in the preseason. Dominant offensive line play will help this offense thrive and Jones improve when the regular season commences.

Inexperienced secondary. There’s all this talk about the Giants’ young secondary, and rightfully so. Coordinator Wink Martindale runs a blitz-heavy scheme that asks for plenty of man coverage from the secondary. And when you have Aaron Robinson (second year), Darnay Holmes (slot corner, third year), and Cor’Dale Flott (rookie) behind veteran Adoree’ Jackson in the cornerback room, there’s reason for concern.

Thursday night, we should start to see whether that concern is warranted though.

This should also be a position group to focus on in the second, third, and fourth quarters, when starters won’t be on the field.

Jackson and Robinson should get the first-team cornerback reps, as should Xavier McKinney and Julian Love at safety. But Flott and some roster-bubble guys (Khalil Dorsey, rookie Darren Evans, and rookie safety Yusuf Corker) will probably attract some eyeballs.

The rookies. And the best part of the preseason: watching the rookies play.

Expect all of the healthy first-year players to earn game reps Thursday. This obviously doesn’t include fourth-round safety Dane Belton (broken collarbone) and fifth-round offensive lineman Marcus McKethan (torn ACL, out for the year).

Will outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux immediately show the pass-rushing skills that made him the No. 5 overall draft pick? Will Neal play his part in building crucial chemistry with the rest of the offensive line?

The initial roles of second-round wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson and fourth-round tight end Daniel Bellinger should also be talking points. The same goes for the performance of third-round offensive lineman Josh Ezeudu, who’s fighting to be the team’s top reserve lineman.

Maybe sixth-round linebacker Darrian Beavers will turn heads and prove he deserves a larger role than fifth-round linebacker Micah McFadden?

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.