1. Can the first-team offense find a rhythm?
There's a preseason for a reason, but no offense wants to start with just 28 yards on 15 plays like the Giants did with Eli Manning under center in the opener against Cincinnati. Manning went 4 of 8 for 22 yards on four series before being relieved by Ryan Nassib as the first-team offensive line stayed on for one extra drive. But heading into the second week of the preseason, Manning set the goals for his unit against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium.
"Obviously, put some points on the board and get some drives going, sustain some drives," he said. "Hopefully be able to get out there, set the tempo, play fast with the offense, get some first downs and get into a good rhythm with the offense."
2. Can the defense start fast?
Like the offense, the Giants' defense, which played without cornerbacks Prince Amukamara (groin) and Chykie Brown (knee), safety Nat Berhe, and linebacker Jameel McClain, had a rough start, allowing a touchdown on the opening drive as Cincinnati quarterback completed all three of his passes, including a 3-yard strike to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu in the end zone. However, the defense, in its first game under Steve Spagnuolo, turned things around in the second half with both sides' reserves in the game, forcing the Bengals to settle for two field goals while grabbing the only interception of the game.
"I think they were thinking too much because they wanted to be right, and it's the first game, and there's a lot of youth on our side of the ball," Spagnuolo said. "I think it was more that. Look, we focused a lot on that and we're talking about it now. I'm hoping in this next go-around, that it will be 'think fast and just go.' That's what the defensive game is all about. I told them, don't worry about making mistakes. Maybe I didn't say that enough going into the game. If you're a guy and you want to make the football team, and they're always being corrected for an error, they want to be perfect. But we're going to chase perfection, but we're going to rely on relentless."
3. Will the wide receivers step up?
Following the first outing of 2015, coach Tom Coughlin voiced his dissatisfaction with the wide receivers, who accounted for just eight of the 15 completions on the night in Cincinnati. The group was playing without Victor Cruz, who did not practice Wednesday because of a "little strain in the calf area," and now Rueben Randle still is not ready so far this week with knee tendinitis, according to Coughlin.
"We definitely need to do more as a receiving group and as a team, as well," said Odell Beckham Jr., who was targeted twice but had no catches in his preseason debut. "We didn't really play well, so you can't really hang your head on it. You just keep it moving and you learn from it."
4. How does Meriweather factor in at safety?
After returning no starters at the position from a year ago, the Giants drafted two safeties this past spring, both of whom were injured in their first NFL game. Second-rounder Landon Collins sprained his medial collateral ligament early in the game, and Mykkele Thompson, taken in the fifth round, tore his Achilles tendon and is out for the season.
Meanwhile, Nat Berhe is working his way back from a calf injury, leading the Giants to sign two-time Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather this week to bolster the group.
"I'm physical," Meriweather said. "The great defenses of the Giants have always been physical, so I'm thinking it may be a great fit."
5. Are there any changes on the offensive line?
With Geoff Schwartz able to practice this week after not making the trip to Cincinnati due to his ankle, the Giants have options as they try to find the best five players to fortify the offensive line. Schwartz played primarily at guard throughout the spring and first part of training camp, but he is viewed as a player who can also kick out to tackle. Meanwhile, players like Bobby Hart continue to do good things, and Justin Pugh is ready and able to play anywhere the coaches need him.
"I'm excited for the offensive line," offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said. "I think they're growing and they're ahead of where they were last year. The saying is, 'We're not where we want to be, but thank goodness we're not where we used to be.' From a physicality standpoint and communication standpoint, they're growing."