Two days before they open the preseason against the Jets, the New York Giants were back on the practice fields at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. The day was geared toward what schemes they expect to see from the opposition on Thursday night. Afterwards, coach Pat Shurmur and players met with the media.
Here are five things we learned:
1. No final decisions yet on playing time for Thursday. Before taking the podium, Shurmur knew he would be peppered with questions about playing time, notably who will start at quarterback. After practice, the plan was to reassess where everybody is health-wise, "but a few guys that are healthy and have been practicing may not play." Does that mean Eli Manning? "We'll let that all reveal itself," said Shurmur, who rested the quarterback in the second and fourth preseason games last year.
One player who will for sure see the field, Shurmur said, is rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.
"The preseason games are very important, especially for the quarterback to be able to go out there," Shurmur said. "It's the next real step in his process, so to speak. We're looking forward to seeing him go out and execute."
2. Jones excited to run out of the tunnel for the first time. The sixth overall draft pick has been groomed to play in the NFL, but on Thursday, it becomes real. He will put on the uniform and run out in front of the home crowd for the first time.
"I think it'll be a whole lot of fun to just run out there for the first time and kind of be part of the scene, be part of an NFL football game," Jones said. "So, I'm excited, I'm looking forward to getting out there."
While Jones will take a moment to let it all sink in, he can't let it last too long. He will have Gregg Williams' defense staring him down.
"Well, I think they play really hard," Jones said of the Jets' scheme. "Something you notice is how aggressive they are and how hard they play, but it'll be different from what we've seen in practice in terms of their just kind of base looks, their base coverages and pressures. All that will be different, so I've just been trying to familiarize myself with those different looks and how they attack an offense. I've been trying to do that these past couple days, trying to prepare as best I can."
"There's no red jerseys in real games, so obviously they're exposed to hits," Shurmur said. "Yeah, that's part of it. It's understanding the timing. Sometimes the timing changes a little bit. So they get that all calibrated in the preseason games. Just like fending off low blocks. Just like tackling to the ground. There are certain things that you really can't practice safely that you have to get in the preseason games. That's probably one of the elements for the quarterbacks."
3. Dexter Lawrence chose to room with Jones to motivate him. A lot of players will make their professional debuts this week, but Lawrence is a special case. He's never even been to an NFL game as a fan.
"It's a night game, too, so all the lights are going to be on," said Lawrence, who grew up a Giants fan despite living in Panthers country. "It's going to be exciting. I like playing under the lights. It's honestly just a moment I dreamed of my whole life, so I'm just excited. I'm getting tired of practice right now. I'm ready to go play a game and just prove myself each and every day."
The preseason opener will feature "The Odd Couple," starring Lawrence and Jones, who are roommates. Lawrence revealed today that he requested to live with Jones back in rookie minicamp. Lawrence heard all the feedback about the Giants taking the Duke product with the sixth overall pick, and the defensive lineman wanted to be there for him.
"I knew when I played him in college he was really good," said Lawrence, who faced Jones in the ACC at Clemson. "In the first half, he was killing us on the field, up and down the field, but they just couldn't score. I knew his talent when they drafted him. I said, 'OK, he deserves to be there.' I respect that. That's why I wanted to be his roommate, just to keep his mind straight and not think about stuff like that. I want to be that kind of guy to motivate him a bit more, and show him, since I don't get into that stuff. I just do what I have to do and be where I have to be."
4. Shurmur will continue to call plays. The head coach confirmed today that he will continue to call plays for the offense, just like he did in his first season with the Giants. He will likely be relaying in plenty of calls to Jones on Thursday night.
"We want him to execute the offense," Shurmur said. "There are some plays that they have flexibility to do what they do. Then there are other things that we have that are what I consider 'run it' plays, where you just call it and run it. We want him to execute, and we want him to do it in a way that represents how we run our offense."
5. Giants eager to get a feel for new pass interference rule in the preseason. A major storyline of the preseason around the NFL is the new rule that made offensive and defensive pass interference subject to review. Coaches can now challenge those calls outside of the final two minutes of each half. Inside of two minutes, they will be subject to a booth review. It was put to use for the first time in the Hall of Fame Game as the Broncos challenged a pass interference penalty called on their defense. The call was upheld.
"Yeah, I'd like to see how they're going to do it," Shurmur said. "I have my opinion of how it's going to play out, based on what we heard from the officials, based on the training tapes that go around. The replay system works really well, but there's also an element of it that's sort of what was called, stays. I'm curious to see if that's… unless it's so obvious that we're going to change it. We've seen plays in the past… forget OPI-DPI (offensive pass interference- defensive pass interference). Any type of foul where you would have said, 'We called a foul here. If I didn't call the foul, it wouldn't have been one. But since I did, I see why…' I think there's a little bit of that in there, which I think it's important for us early on in this process to see how it's going to be done.
"I really do believe that we all want to get it right. This is going to be talked about a great deal. It's going to have an effect on some games, so I think in the preseason, it makes sense for all of us to, every once in a while, throw one just to see what the response is."