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Giants vs. Cowboys: 5 Players to watch in Week 5

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The Giants begin a stretch of five division games in six weeks this weekend as they travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

The Cowboys (1-3) enter this game after losing, 49-38, at home to the Cleveland Browns last week. The Browns rushed for over 300 yards and three touchdowns despite losing starting running back Nick Chubb in the first half.

As the Giants prepare for their first NFC East game of the season, here are five players to watch heading into Sunday's contest:

QB Daniel Jones

After a strong start to the season, Jones has struggled over the last few weeks. The second-year quarterback has not thrown a touchdown pass since Week 1 and has a combined 369 passing yards over the last two games. His five interceptions are tied for the third-most in the league.

Jones has done well with his legs. Against the Rams in Week 4, Jones carried the ball six times for 45 yards, averaging 7.5 yards per carry. Going up against the 49ers the week before, he rushed for 49 yards and five carries (9.8 avg.). The Cowboys have allowed two of the four quarterbacks they've faced this season to rush for at least 20 yards.

The Cowboys rank 23rd in the league in passing yards allowed, surrendering 258 yards per game, while ranking 30th in passing touchdowns allowed (12). Over the last three weeks, Cleveland's Baker Mayfield, Seattle's Russell Wilson and Atlanta's Matt Ryan have combined for 11 passing touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Dallas defense.

"I think we have to focus on us, and that's certainly our mindset going in," Jones said this week. "We'll look at what they do and understand their scheme, but it's about how we prepare and what we do on offense going into the game."

WR Darius Slayton

Darius Slayton began his sophomore campaign with a bang on Monday Night Football. Slayton reeled in six passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns against the Steelers, including a 41-yard touchdown pass at the start of the second quarter. In the three games since, Slayton has caught a total of nine passes for 134 yards (with a fumble) and has been unable to find the end zone.

A big factor behind Slayton's rookie year success was his big-play ability. In 14 games last season, Slayton registered 12 catches of 20 or more yards, good for the fifth-most among rookie wide receivers. The Giants' fifth-round pick from 2019 matched Tennessee's A.J. Brown for the most touchdown catches among rookie receivers last season with eight, six of which were from 20 yards or longer. Slayton caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Jones in the season opener against Pittsburgh, but has only caught three passes of 20+ yards in the three games since.

Heading into Week 5, the Cowboys have been susceptible to big plays on the defensive side of the ball. Dallas has surrendered two touchdown plays of 20 or more yards in each of the last three games, with five of the six coming through the air.

"Yeah, I don't think there's any question you want to make explosive plays," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said this week. "That's a big part of playing offensive football and scoring points. I think if you look at the statistics on drives when you make an explosive play versus not making an explosive play, the spread is almost 50 percent different. That's an important thing. It's something we try to emphasize.

"Obviously, being able to run the football, being able to control the line of scrimmage, being able to pass protect the way you need to, impacts your ability to throw the ball vertically down the field. If you take those shots and you're not able to hold it and protect it the way you need to, a lot of bad things happen and you find yourself digging out of those drives. You have to be selective, again, when you're kind of rebuilding with a team to find those spots. But there's no question they're important in drives, they're important in drives if you want to score points."

OLB Lorenzo Carter

Lorenzo Carter has been performing well through the first quarter of the season. The third-year edge rusher has registered 15 tackles (11 solo), one sack, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and a pass defended. Carter has earned a 68.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, ranking 28th among the 100 qualified edge rushers, while receiving a solid 70.7 run defense grade.

Carter has played well in his four career outings against the Cowboys. In those contests, the 6-foot-5 veteran has 12 tackles (9 solo), one sack, two tackles for loss and four quarterback hits.

Dak Prescott has been sacked nine times through the first four games of the season. On Friday, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy announced that four-time All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith will miss the remainder of the season with a neck injury. Starting center Joe Looney was ruled out earlier in the week, while tackle La'el Collins was placed on injured reserve last month.

DB Logan Ryan

Logan Ryan has been a significant addition to the Giants' secondary. The veteran defensive back signed with the team right before the start of the season, but considering his level of play through the first four games, one would be unable to tell that he didn't spend the whole off-season studying the defensive scheme.

Ryan has registered 22 tackles (16 solo), three passes defended, one forced fumble and one quarterback hit through Week 4. He has earned a 64.4 overall grade from PFF, ranking 24th among the league's safeties, while receiving a solid 68.4 grade for his run defense. Ryan has also emerged as a leader on the defense, providing the unit with another strong veteran voice, partly thanks to his extensive playoff experience and two Super Bowl championships with the Patriots.

Dallas leads the NFL with 2,038 total yards and ranks third with 31.5 points per game. Dak Prescott has thrown for 1,631 yards in only four games, which puts him on pace for more than 6,500 yards on the season, a mark that would shatter Peyton Manning's record of 5,477 (2013). Prescott is averaging around 275 passing yards per game against the Giants in eight career games.

"The thing that stands out to me about Logan, and I have always loved this about Logan, he is a very consistent player," defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said this week. "He has a very consistent attitude and approach to the game. He's there early, he's working hard, he's asking the right questions. He's going to ask the questions that maybe somebody else didn't want to ask. He's been like that the whole time I have known him. From the days in New England to now. He makes you a better coach because he asks the right questions…

"It's those unique players that make you good as a coach. He makes you better as a coach because of his insight. You can see the leadership skills with the players. They gravitate to him. I get the championships, but Logan is a day to day guy. I can't speak for him, but that's how he appears to me, he's a day to day guy. He carries himself like that every day. I haven't seen him not carry himself like that. Even when he was a rookie or second year player, he carried himself like that. It's pretty impressive."

CB James Bradberry

James Bradberry has an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 15 tackles to go along with his league-leading nine passes defended. He has helped contain some of the league's top wide receivers, such as Pittsburgh's JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chicago's Allen Robinson and the LA Rams' Robert Woods.

Bradberry has looked like a true shutdown corner through the first four games, and the analytics support this notion. The fifth-year corner has earned an 83.0 overall grade from PFF, the second-highest among cornerbacks, while his elite 84.3 coverage grade ranked third. The analytics site named Bradberry to their First-Quarter NFL All-Pro Team this week, praising him for allowing just 52.2 percent of passes thrown into his coverage to be caught.

We touched on how much success Prescott has had throwing the ball this year, and a big part of that is because of the talented group of wide receivers Dallas has put together. Amari Cooper leads the way with 37 receptions for 401 yards and a touchdown, but CeeDee Lamb is not far behind with his 21 receptions for 309 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, Michael Gallup has caught 13 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown.

"This offense is very explosive," head coach Joe Judge said this week. "The quarterback does a great job extending plays. He's very accurate, he has a big arm, has the ability to stick the ball into tight windows. They have multiple explosive receivers."

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

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