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Giants vs. Raiders Storylines: What to watch for

Posted Nov 29, 2017

Here are five storylines to follow as the Giants get set to face the Raiders:


1. ELI’S STREAK COMES TO AN END

For the first time in 210 regular-season games, Eli Manning will not start for the New York Giants when they open up on offense this Sunday in Oakland. Coach Ben McAdoo announced Tuesday that Geno Smith will start in place of the two-time Super Bowl MVP, who was given the option of starting against the Raiders to keep the streak alive, but declined.

“Coach McAdoo told me I could continue to start while Geno and Davis [Webb] are given an opportunity to play,” Manning said. “My feeling is that if you are going to play the other guys, play them. Starting just to keep the streak going and knowing you won’t finish the game and have a chance to win it is pointless to me, and it tarnishes the streak. Like I always have, I will be ready to play if and when I am needed. I will help Geno and Davis prepare to play as well as they possibly can.”

2. GENO TO START

Smith has 30 career starts under his belt, but only one of those has been in the last three seasons. He started 29 games between 2013 and 2014 with the New York Jets and once more for them in Week 7 of last season, a 24-16 home victory over Baltimore. In that game, he completed 4 of 8 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown before suffering a torn ACL in the second quarter that ended his season. He signed with the Giants in the offseason and eventually beat out Josh Johnson to serve as Manning’s backup while Webb, a rookie third-round draft choice, was No. 3.

“Man, I’ve been in this situation before, honestly,” said Smith, who is 12-18 as a starter. “Just last year. I went through the same things, so you kind of have to expect everything. You can never be too sure. As we all know, this is a business. It’s a tough business. Anything can happen and no one’s job is 100 percent secure. Injuries happen. Things happen and you got to just continue to roll with the punches and for me, it’s a great opportunity. Great opportunity to go out there. Had a year to get healthy. I’ve had time to learn the system and learn the guys, so it’s a great opportunity. I look forward to it.”

3. WEBB TO PLAY SOON


Webb, who was taken with the 23rd pick in the third round (87th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft, is expected to play sometime before the end of the season – if not this week. The Cal product has been inactive for all 11 games this season with his last action coming in the Giants’ preseason finale on Aug. 31 against the Patriots. In three preseason games (he did not play in the second at Cleveland), Webb went 18 of 34 (52.9 percent) for 190 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

Webb played three seasons at Texas Tech before transferring for his final year to the University of California, which became only the second school to have quarterbacks selected in the first three rounds of back-to-back NFL Drafts (Jared Goff was selected No. 1 overall in 2016). In four combined seasons, Webb played in 35 games with 26 starts. He had 841 completions in 1,367 attempts (61.5 percent) for 9,852 yards, 83 touchdown passes, and 34 interceptions.

“I’ll be excited,” Webb said of getting the opportunity to play. “Nothing affects my preparation, just how I always play. I’ve played that way since I was in seventh grade, I was a B-team backup quarterback. I play extremely driven, play competitive and have passion with my teammates. So we’re just looking forward to whoever plays quarterback, to be able to enjoy success with each other and that’s teammates. It’s a team game and that’s what we need to do, enjoy success.”

4. JENKINS PLACED ON IR

The Giants’ injured reserve list swelled to 19 players on Wednesday with the addition of cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who injured his ankle in the Thanksgiving loss to the Redskins. In that game, Jenkins, who made his first Pro Bowl last season, recorded his seventh career interception return for touchdown.

On Monday, the Giants placed the following players on injured reserve: offensive lineman D.J. Fluker (toe), cornerback Donte Deayon (forearm), and linebackers Curtis Grant (knee) and Deontae Skinner (hamstring).

5. ROSTER MOVES

With six linebackers now on injured reserve, the Giants signed free agent linebacker Jeremy Cash and were awarded Ray-Ray Armstrong off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers. Armstrong was the 49ers’ second-leading tackler before being released last Friday. Armstrong also had two interceptions and one forced fumble. The team also signed a pair of defensive backs: Brandon Dixon, who was signed off the Giants’ practice squad, and free agent Darryl Morris. Fourth-year defensive tackle Khyri Thornton, previously of the Detroit Lions, took Jenkins’ roster spot on Wednesday.