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10 Things to watch for vs. Cowboys


Ten things you need to know as the Giants get set to face the Cowboys on Sunday:


Less than 24 hours after the Giants fell to 2-10 on the season with a 24-17 loss to the Raiders in Oakland, Giants president John Mara and chairman Steve Tisch announced the dismissals of head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese. Mara held a press conference Monday afternoon in the auditorium of the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

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"To be honest with you, it became more and more apparent that we were going to have to do something at the end of the season, so we talked after the game and again this morning about why prolong it any longer?" Mara said. "Why not just get it done now? I'm very conscious of the fact that three of our last four games are at home. I'm conscious, having lived through it before, of what the reaction was going to be. Also, gives us somewhat of a tactical advantage, allowing us to start looking at general managers right now rather than waiting until the end of the season."


Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will be the interim head coach for the remainder of the season, while Kevin Abrams, who has been the assistant general manager for 16 years, will be the interim G.M. Spagnuolo, who is in the third year of his second stint with the Giants, has previous head coaching experience. The architect of the Super Bowl XLII-winning defense that upset the undefeated Patriots left in 2009 to become the head coach in St. Louis, where he served for three seasons.

"It's our hope to unite, restore and find a way to win football games," Spagnuolo said. "When I mean restore, you know, restore Giant pride. It's hard to be real prideful when you don't win a lot of football games. But I think the guys feel that. They understand it and we'll function that way going forward."


As part of his new duties, it was ultimately left to Spagnuolo to decide who would start at quarterback this Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Cowboys. His decision, at least for this week, is Eli Manning. The 14-year veteran is scheduled to start for the 223rd time in the Giants' last 224 games, including postseason. Manning's streak came to an end last Sunday in Oakland, where Geno Smith got the nod. Smith will remain the backup this week with rookie Davis Webb remaining third in line.


Spagnuolo still plans to call the defense while offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan continues to do so on the other side of the ball. As a backup, however, secondary/safeties coach David Merritt will be there to cover for Spagnuolo on defense when he's pulled in one of the many other directions required of his new interim head coaching duties. Merritt has been with the team uninterrupted since Tom Coughlin hired him in his first season as head coach in 2004.


Out: LB B.J. Goodson (ankle), OL Justin Pugh (back)

Questionable: CB Eli Apple (hip/back), RB Orleans Darkwa (illness), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (finger), WR Travis Rudolph (hamstring), WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring), OT Chad Wheeler (concussion)


Entering Week 14, Evan Engram leads all rookies in touchdown catches, and is first among rookie tight ends in receptions (51), receiving yards (569), 20-yard plays (nine), and first downs (30). He recorded career-high totals of seven receptions for 99 yards in Oakland, including a remarkable one-handed grab for a 22-yard gain in the fourth quarter. Engram also caught a 10-yard touchdown pass against the Raiders, his sixth of the season, to break a tie with Bob Tucker for the most by a rookie tight end in franchise history. The record had stood since 1970.


The Giants play three of their final four games at home against each of their NFC East rivals, beginning with this week's visit from the 6-6 Dallas Cowboys. The Giants have won the last two meetings with the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium, including a 10-7 victory last year that ended a franchise-record 11-game winning streak for Dallas. This year, however, has been a different story. The Cowboys won the regular-season opener over the Giants, 19-3, at AT&T Stadium. Dallas defeated Washington last Thursday to climb back to .500 with four games to play.


At 2-10, the Giants are on track for a top-three draft choice, but there's one word Mara will not tolerate in the final month: tanking. He met with the assistant coaches following the Monday's dismissals and told them just that.

"[I] told them that my expectation is for them to continue to work hard to get these players ready to play in these last four games," Mara said. "I told them I would not put up with any talk in this building about tanking or anything else and I expected us to go out and try to win these games. I expected their best efforts to try to get us to do that."


On Sunday, the Giants will wear their all-white Color Rush uniforms and throwback "GIANTS" helmets for the first time at MetLife Stadium. The Color Rush concept debuted in 2015 during four "Thursday Night Football" matchups to commemorate 50 years of NFL games being broadcast in color. It was expanded to all 32 teams last season. It will be the first time the Giants have worn a white jersey at home since their 2000 home opener against the Cardinals.


Linebacker Mark Herzlich has been announced as the Giants' nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which Manning was presented with last year. The award recognizes a player for outstanding community service as well as excellence on the field. The winner will be announced during the "NFL Honors" awards show on Feb. 3, the eve of Super Bowl LII.

Additionally, starting this week, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year trophy silhouette will appear in uniform elements to further recognize past award winners and current nominees. The five current players who have won the award – Manning, Drew Brees, Thomas Davis, Larry Fitzgerald -- will wear a Man of the Year patch on their jerseys in perpetuity to recognize their outstanding contributions to the game and to their communities. All 2017 nominees will wear a Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season. This tradition will continue for future nominees and winners of the award.

Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants get set for Sunday's game

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