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5 players to watch in Giants vs. Cowboys


The Giants will welcome the Dallas Cowboys to MetLife Stadium for a primetime showdown on Monday Night Football in Week 3.

The game is the first divisional matchup of the season for Brian Daboll's squad. Following this week's contest, they will not face another division opponent until Thanksgiving, when they travel to Dallas in Week 12 to start a four-week stretch against the NFC East.

The Giants are also hoping to snap a 10-game losing streak in primetime dating to the 2018 season. As of now, this Week 3 matchup is the team's only night game under the bright lights.

Here are five players to watch on Monday:

QB Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones has gotten his season off to a solid start. The fourth-year quarterback has attempted only 55 passes through the first two games, but he has completed 39 of them for a strong 70.9 completion percentage. He has thrown three touchdowns to only one interception, and has earned a 99.4 passer rating. Jones has also gained 46 yards on the ground, including picking up a clutch first down late in last week's win over the Panthers to clinch the victory. Over his last four homes games, Jones is 4-0 with four touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 94.4 passer rating.

"Like I said after the game, I think he's made really good decisions," Daboll said Wednesday. "There's always plays that we can be better at. But his decision-making process – where he's gone with the football – he's made the right decision, I'd say, a lot. And that helps…His job is to help the offense move the football, whatever that is. It starts with decision-making at quarterback. He touches the ball on every play. And he's done a good job of that. We're going to continue to build that. But I'm pleased with where he's at."

The Cowboys' pass defense has performed well in the first two weeks of the season. In the season opener, the unit held Tom Brady to 212 yards on 18 of 27 passes for one touchdown and one interception. The following week, Joe Burrow completed 24 of 36 passes for just 199 yards and one touchdown. The unit enters this matchup ranking sixth in the league in pass defense.

LT Andrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas took a step in his development from Year 1 to 2. Now through the first two games of Year 3, Thomas has taken an even bigger leap. The 23-year-old has yet to surrender a sack, which has aided in his 89.1 overall PFF grade, the highest among all offensive linemen. The biggest improvement in Thomas' game has been his run blocking, as his 88.3 grade on 57 run snaps is the second-highest among offensive linemen.

"He's a good player. He's very talented," Daboll told the media this week about Thomas. "But I think playing offensive line in the National Football League is tough, particularly playing tackle. You're going against some dominant edge rushers usually. The speed of the game is quicker, even though he played in the SEC at the highest level. I'd say that experience helps. You're going to go through some growing pains. I'm certain that he did. We all do. I think that his mindset is that he's a very consistent, dependable person. And that kind of translates to the field."

Thomas will have his toughest test yet as he will be tasked with blocking the duo of Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence. Parsons, last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year, has picked up right where he left off in 2021 with four sacks in the first two games. He registered three sacks of Joe Burrow last week, and his 92.2 overall grade is the second-highest of any player in the NFL this season. Meanwhile, Lawrence has always been a thorn in the Giants' side. The veteran defensive end has seven sacks and four forced fumbles in 13 career games against the Giants.

DL Dexter Lawrence

Dexter Lawrence is a key piece of the Giants' defensive line, and could be looking at a bigger role than normal against the Cowboys. Fellow defensive lineman Leonard Williams suffered a knee injury during last week's win, and it is too early to tell whether or not he will be able to suit up Monday night. Lawrence is coming off a game in which he was on the field for 79 percent of the team's defensive snaps, which tied for the third-highest percentage of snaps played in his young career.

In last week's win, Lawrence registered his third-career forced fumble. He added five total tackles and a quarterback hit, bringing his total to three QB hits on the season. Lawrence has earned a solid 70.3 overall grade this season, tied with Buffalo's Jordan Phillips for the 24th-highest among interior defensive linemen.

"He's maybe one of my most favorite players that I've ever been around in my life," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said on Thursday. "He's a great guy first of all – a great person. And he's a problem. I mean, he is athletic. And I'm glad you brought that up because that play – I told the whole defense on Monday – the play where he chased (Panthers quarterback) Baker Mayfield down and got him short of the sticks on that scramble, I don't know (if) in my career I've ever seen a big man like that make a play like that. And that's the kind of effort and leadership that he brings to the defense."

Right guard Zack Martin has once again been a consistent force for the Cowboys up front, as his 84.7 pass block grade ranks second among the league's guards. However, left guard Matt Farniok has struggled to start the year. Farniok has earned a 36.9 overall grade in the first two games, including a 22.3 pass block grade after he allowed 12 total pressures.

The Giants will wear their all-white Color Rush uniforms on Monday Night Football against the Cowboys.

OLB Oshane Ximines

With Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee) and Azeez Ojulari (calf) missing the first two games, the Giants have leaned on Oshane Ximines and Jihad Ward at the outside linebacker position, and both players have delivered. Ximines has recorded a pass breakup in each of the first two games, along with three quarterback hits, five total pressures and his first sack since 2019. His 80.5 overall grade ranks 18th among edge defenders, while his 75.5 run defense grade is the 12th-highest at the position.

"I've said this from the beginning. Again, I don't know where he was last year. I just know where he is this year. His mind's on right," Daboll said about Ximines after Sunday's win. "He's been a big part of our football team. He's got energy. I think he has talent. I think Wink's getting talent out of him. He's a confident player."

The Cowboys lost standout left tackle Tyron Smith to a hamstring injury last month. Rookie Tyler Smith has stepped up in Smith's absence and has allowed three total pressures through two games, which has helped him receive a 65.6 pass block grade. On the other side of the O-line is third-year tackle Terence Steele, whose 73.7 overall grade is tied for the 15th-best mark among offensive tackles. The Dallas offensive line has allowed five total sacks this season.

S Julian Love

Julian Love is coming off a strong performance against the Panthers in Week 2. The fourth-year safety led the team with eight solo tackles and added two tackles for loss and a clutch fourth-quarter sack that helped seal the victory for the Giants. Love has been on the field for every defensive snap through the first two games, in addition to more than half of the special teams snaps. His 13 total tackles is the most on the team, while his 72.9 pass rush grade ranks fifth among NFL safeties.

The 24-year-old has played a key role in the Giants having the NFL's top third-down defense this season. The Titans and Panthers combined to convert just five of 23 third down attempts (21.7 percent), which the safety attributed in part to the defensive schemes of coordinator Wink Martindale.

"It's just players being kind of gritty and making it a point to get off the field," Love said about the team's third-down defense on Monday. "That's what we try to pride ourselves on especially in the secondary. We've been just battling honestly. It hasn't been pretty or perfect, but we've been battling. Secondly, it's attributed to Wink Martindale and the staff and the scheme that we've been running. He comes up with great schemes for the whole game but third down especially. We take pride in that as a defense."

Dalton Schultz injured his knee in Dallas' Week 2 win, putting his status for Monday night's game in doubt. The tight end has caught nine passes for 80 yards in two games. The Cowboys' leading receiver heading into Week 3 is wide receiver Noah Brown, who has reeled in 10 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, the team's No. 1 option in the passing game, has nine receptions for 104 yards, while running back Tony Pollard has registered six receptions for 69 yards. Michael Gallup is also expected to make his 2022 debut this week.

View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

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