Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, quarterback Eli Manning and safety Jabrill Peppers met with the media Wednesday as the team prepares for its Week 1 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.
Here are 5 things we learned today:
Week 1 Injury Report. Tight end Garrett Dickerson (quad) and wide receiver Darius Slayton (hamstring) did not participate in practice Wednesday, and Shurmur told the media that both players “probably won’t make it this week.” Joining the two on the sidelines was right tackle Mike Remmers (illness/back).
Also listed on the injury report were cornerback Antonio Hamilton (adductor) and linebacker Nate Stupar (concussion). Both were full participants in practice.
For the Cowboys, safeties Darian Thompson (ankle) and Donovan Wilson (ankle), along with linebacker Luke Gifford (ankle), were sidelined during Wednesday’s practice.
Guard Zack Martin (back) was a limited participant.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper (foot), defensive ends Tyrone Crawford (hip) and DeMarcus Lawrence (shoulder), tight ends Blake Jarwin (foot) and Dalton Schultz (ankle), linebacker Sean Lee (knee), and tackle Tyron Smith (back) were full participants.
Stopping Jason Witten will be a focal point of the defense’s game plan Sunday. Shurmur acknowledged that defending opposing tight ends in the passing game has been a focus for the defense after the unit struggled with it last season. “Yeah, it’s been a focus, obviously, schematically on defense to make sure we take away the tight end when he’s a primary target,” Shurmur said. “You just work on it. Then we have some things schematically that we can do a little bit differently.”
The Giants will see a familiar face at tight end for the Cowboys on Sunday, as Jason Witten decided to cut his broadcasting career short in order to return to the field. When asked about Witten, Shurmur said the tight end is “where he belongs. He’s a Cowboy.”
Eli Manning is excited to play behind the team’s new offensive line. Manning believes the starting offensive line is a strong and talented group. The veteran quarterback said the experience of the unit, with the additions of Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers and the return of Jon Halapio, Nate Solder and Will Hernandez, will benefit both the o-line and the offense overall.
“That first year going into a new offense last year with a lot of new guys can take a little time for everybody to get on the same page…” Manning said. “I think we now have a more vet group, a more experienced group, with guys that have been around and played together. I think a lot of the questions have already been answered and now we have to go out there and play well.”
Manning will become the first player in Giants history to play 16 years with the franchise. The two-time Super Bowl MVP admitted that he was unaware that he was the longest-tenured player in franchise history until someone in the media informed him about it. However, Manning said he is blessed to have been a part of this organization for as long as he has.
“No one has enjoyed playing for this organization more than I have, and I’ve been appreciative of it,” said Manning. “I have a great respect and love for the Giants and the whole history of the organization.”
Jabrill Peppers to return punts in Week 1. Peppers said he expects to return punts Sunday against the Giants’ NFC East rivals. The versatile safety has returned 55 punts for 399 yards in 29 games over his first two NFL seasons, averaging 7.3 yards per attempt.
During his three seasons at Michigan, Peppers returned 39 punts for 510 yards, averaging 13.1 yards per return, with one touchdown.
While he does expect to play on special teams against the Cowboys, Peppers said he will not be making an appearance on offense Sunday.