After nearly eight months of waiting, the regular season is finally here.
The Giants open the 2022 season on the road as they will travel to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Titans on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. Head Coach Brian Daboll met with the media prior to practice, while quarterback Daniel Jones, CB Adoree' Jackson and OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux spoke in the locker room afterward.
Here are five things we learned:
1. New offense 'very QB friendly'
Coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka were brought in from Buffalo and Kansas City, respectively, to provide a boost to an offense that finished near the bottom of the league in points and yards last season. Although Sunday's Week 1 matchup will provide the first real opportunity for the unit to put the changes they underwent on full display, Daniel Jones can already feel the differences from last season and is enjoying his time with in the system.
"I think it's a versatile system," Jones said. "I think it allows the quarterback to do a lot in the pocket, outside the pocket, in the run game. It allows us to get into advantageous looks depending on what the defense does, easily getting in and out of plays. I think from all those perspectives, it's very quarterback friendly for any quarterback. I've certainly enjoyed working with (Coach Daboll)…
"He's just always thinking, he's always thinking about a new way to run this play or a new way to motion something or shift something or set it up – and that's constant with him. It's in the cafeteria, it's through the hallways, obviously in meeting rooms. He's always thinking, coming up with new ideas. That's been fun, you learn a lot that way as I am learning the system, but also the way he thinks about football, how he sees offense and setting us up to be successful. It's been fun working with him."
The team went 2-1 in the preseason and averaged 25.0 points per game; and the offense already showed some early signs of big improvements. It finished the preseason ranked first in the NFL in total yards (382.7) and passing yards (279.0) per game. It also finished at the top of the NFC in passing attempts (143), completion percentage (71.3 percent) and fewest sacks allowed (three).
2. Jackson ready to face old team as No. 1 CB
Adoree' Jackson is facing a new challenge this year as he enters the regular season as the Giants' top corner and most experienced player in the DB room. Now entering his sixth season in the NFL, the veteran corner told the media he's been through a lot of adversity to get to the position he is now in.
"I feel like I had the most fun that I've had in a while," Jackson said about training camp. "Just going back and playing football like I was playing Pop Warner. I will say it made me feel like a kid again being out there playing, running around with the guys. Just doing what I love to do...
"I think it has more to do with just me being through what I've been through, understanding myself, overcoming some things and just honing back into myself and learning about myself over these past couple of years, going through life. I think that's what I give credit to."
Jackson was a first-round pick (No. 17 overall) and spent his first four seasons with the Titans prior to joining the Giants. He played 46 games with 41 starts and registered two interceptions, 33 passes defensed and three forced fumbles. While he's grateful to the Titans for selecting him five years ago, Jackson is glad he ended up with the Giants.
"It's going to be cool," said the 26-year-old corner. "I get to see a couple of my guys. (Safety) Kevin Byard, (Safety) Amani Hooker, (Running Back) Derrick Henry, and (Wide Receiver) Robert Woods. That's what I'm most excited about, seeing some familiar faces. A couple of the coaches that I know, built some relationships with. It's just going to be fun seeing them, chopping it up with them. Probably get a jersey after the game or two so that's going to be nice...
"That's the organization that drafted me, so I'm forever thankful and grateful for the opportunity that they gave me. At the end of the day, it just didn't pan out the way they wanted, and I wanted. That's how life goes. God gives you second chances to open another door when one closes and I'm here and I'm appreciative."
3. Prepping for Derrick Henry
Titans running back Derrick Henry has been perhaps the best running back in the NFL over the last few seasons. He rushed for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns, with an average of 5.1 yards per carry, in 2019. The following year, he put up a jaw-dropping 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground, with averages of 5.4 yards per carry and 126.7 yards per game, on his way to being named Offensive Player of the Year.
A foot injury derailed Henry's 2021 campaign, but not before he picked up 937 yards and 10 touchdowns in just eight games. Coach Brian Daboll knows that slowing down the talented, bruising running back will be one of the biggest priorities for the defense.
"It's well documented what he's done so far. He's just a really good football player," the head coach told the media Tuesday. "I know him as a person, too. I met him down a few times in Alabama. Got a ton of respect for him as a man and certainly as a player. He's one heck of a player. You name it, he can do it…
"We're going to have to have all hands-on deck and do the best job we can of running to the football and gang tackling, and you even see him on plays, he might have three or four guys on him, and somehow, he squirts through. He's just a unique player. He's very, very good."
View rare photos of the all-time history between the New York Giants and Tennessee Titans.
4. First unofficial depth chart of regular season released
The Giants released their first unofficial depth chart of the regular season, with a few changes in the starting lineup from the last depth chart announced ahead of the preseason finale. Ben Bredeson is listed as the starting left guard after Shane Lemieux was placed on injured reserve. Lemieux will miss at least the first four games of the season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the only differences are at the linebacker position. Tae Crowder was moved from the WILL position to MLB, replacing Blake Martinez who was released last week. And Austin Calitro was placed into the starting lineup at the WILL position.
Special teams saw a couple of changes, as well. WR Richie James is penciled in as the starting punt returner, while RB Gary Brightwell is in as the starting kick returner. They replace WR C.J. Board, who was previously listed as the starter at both positions before he was released from the practice squad Tuesday morning.
As a reminder, the unofficial depth chart is always subject to change. It simply serves as a guide, more so for the media than the coaches.
5. Injury updates
The status of outside linebackers Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee) and Azeez Ojulari (leg) was a key topic at the media session. Daboll didn't have an update regarding their availability for the game, but said both would participate in individual drills on Tuesday.
"We'll see. We'll just keep rehabbing them."
"I've been rehabbing. It's day to day right now," Thibodeaux added. "I've just been working, trying to get better to get back in shape and get it going... I've just got to be able to practice. If you don't practice, you don't play. Me just being able to get out there, get some work and do everything that I need to do the time I need to get my job done."
Despite having Bredeson and Calitro listed as the starters on the unofficial Week 1 depth chart, Daboll was not ready to name them as starters against the Titans.
"I have an idea (of who they will be), but we're going to go out here and practice and let a few guys here compete at it. And by game time, we should be ready to go," Daboll explained.