1. Waiting all offseason for Sunday night.
For the third time in four years, the New York Giants open the season on "Sunday Night Football" against the Dallas Cowboys. This time, Big Blue faces the defending NFC East champions at AT&T Stadium, where the Giants hold a 4-2 record since the building opened in 2009. From rookies to the most seasoned NFL coaches like Tom Coughlin, Week 1 never gets old.
"Just as excited, just as nervous, just as anxious to get started," Coughlin said. "Just as anxious to see our team on the field."
2. Cruz and Beason out; injury report.
Wide receiver Victor Cruz and middle linebacker Jon Beason have been ruled out of Sunday's opener against Dallas. Cruz, who missed the last 10 games of 2014 with a serious knee injury, has recently been hampered by a calf injury that caused him to miss the entire 2015 preseason as well.
Beason suffered a knee injury against Jacksonville in the preseason and has not yet returned to game action. Meanwhile, Linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (hamstring), and defensive end Owa Odighizuwa (foot) are probable. y.
3. New-look offensive line.
With Will Beatty on the physically unable to perform list and missing at least the first six games with a pectoral injury, the Giants will be starting five players at five different positions along the offensive line in 2015. Rookie Ereck Flowers took over for Beatty at left tackle; Justin Pugh moved from right tackle to left guard; Weston Richburg assumed his natural role at center; and Marshall Newhouse signed as a free agent this offseason to play right tackle. Meanwhile, the team has not announced who will start at right guard, where Geoff Schwartz and John Jerry have rotated this summer.
4. Rookie impact.
After last year's rookie class made big contributions across the board, the 2015 draft picks will look to do the same starting Sunday night. Look for Flowers, safety Landon Collins, Odighizuwa, wide receiver Geremy Davis and offensive lineman Bobby Hart. Meanwhile, safety Mykkele Thompson (Achilles) is on injured reserve.
Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants face the Cowboys on Sunday
5. Starting safeties.
Before the Giants kick off Week 1, they had five safeties land on injured reserve at a position that returned no starters from a year ago. But nothing changed for Collins, who knew he was going to contribute from Day 1 after the Giants traded up to draft him with the first pick of the second round. As for the second half of the tandem, the Giants tried just about every combination this summer, and on Thursday defensive coordinator Stave Spagnuolo said, "I'm not going to go into that right now. We've got a bunch of options, everybody has been working there. Before it's all said and done, I think we're going to need all of them to win the games. We won't get hung up too much on who starts."
6. Spags won't overload new defense in Week 1.
Spagnuolo begins his second stint as defensive coordinator of the Giants on Sunday night. Of course, the preparations have been underway since the moment he was hired on Jan. 15. After the offseason workouts, training camp practices and preseason games, that preparation is about to be put to the test.
"We're almost there," Spagnuolo said. "I don't think the full volume is in yet, but I don't know that we need the full volume of defense right now. Sometimes I think in the first game, you play a little faster, you play a little bit better, with less thinking. So we've been conscious of that, and purposely haven't put things in for all the reasons, questions you all asked. We've got a lot of young guys. But you don't want to get caught short-handed either."
7. Manning approaches 100th victory, other milestones.
Manning is 245 yards away from becoming the 15th player in NFL history to reach 40,000 career yards and needs three touchdowns to pass Dave Krieg (261) for 12th place on the league's all-time list. But his greatest milestone is career wins. With one more, Manning will reach 100 victories as a starter. He currently has 91 in the regular season and eight in the postseason.
Playmakers on Cowboys first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike
8. Odell goes for Hall of Famer's record.
On Sunday, Odell Beckham Jr. has a chance to break Michael Irvin's NFL record of nine consecutive 90-yard receiving games against the Hall of Famer's former team.
"I think the toughest challenge he has -- and we had a chance to kind of talk about a little bit of this -- is really outliving that catch," said Irvin, who drafted Beckham to his Pro Bowl team as the alumni team captain. "Now what do you do and how not only the expectations of living up to that certain play, but also dealing with how people are going to come after him now because of all the attention that he gets from making certain plays like that and you're living in New York City. As I said to him, this isn't Baton Rouge anymore. This is New York."
9. Wing takes over punting duties.
The Giants have a new punter after releasing veteran Steve Weatherford last week and acquiring Brad Wing from the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft choice. The lefty from Australia will also hold for kicker Josh Brown, as Weatherford had done.
10. This is it.
On Saturday, clubs across the league trimmed their rosters to the 53-player limit. Among the once-unheralded players to the make the Giants' team were tight end Jerome Cunningham, linebacker Unai 'Unga and Nikita Whitlock, who played fullback, defensive tackle and on special teams in the preseason finale. Whitlock replaced fan favorite Henry Hynoski, while the Giants also released veteran linebacker Jameel McClain, the team's leading tackler in 2014. On Monday, Coughlin delivered a message to his team after their first practice of a live game week.
"This is it," Coughlin said. "There's no 100 guys, there's 10 practice squad guys this year, and 53. We have to service each other, we have to help each other get better, and that's the whole purpose of this thing. There is a responsibility to each other and we always talk about unity over self and so on and so forth, team above self, and that's what this was about. "