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Giants vs. Cowboys Storylines: What to watch for



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On the surface, Monday night looked a lot like Week 6 of 2014. The Giants entered Lincoln Financial Field with a three-game winning streak after starting 0-2 but left with a disappointing loss to the NFC East rival Eagles. It marked the beginning of a seven-game drought for the Giants, who are looking to avoid any kind of tailspin this time around. They will have to forget about it on a short week as they prepare to host the Cowboys (2-3) on Sunday for another decisive game in a wide-open division. 

"That was last year, this is a new year," said coach Tom Coughlin, whose Giants are tied with the Eagles atop the NFC East at 3-3. "What am I worried about? I'm worried about getting our team ready for the Dallas Cowboys. Forget about last year. Last year was last year."


The Giants are coming off a game in which they recorded a season-high number of takeaways with four (three interceptions and a fumble). But to Coughlin's chagrin, the same went for turnovers (three) and penalties (12). It was uncharacteristic for a Giants team that is still tied for first in the NFL with a plus-six turnover differential.

"It's a bad production," Coughlin said. "We've got to be able to handle the big games. The games where things don't go our way, we've got to handle them better. You've got handle those situations better."


Playmakers on Cowboys first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike

Three prominent starters have yet to play a down this season for the Giants, and time will tell when they are ready to return. Wide receiver Victor Cruz, who suffered a season-ending knee injury more than a year ago, continues to deal with a separate calf issue. On Tuesday, Coughlin said he didn't have an update other than that Cruz has been running on the underwater treadmill. Meanwhile, offensive tackle Will Beatty is on the physically unable to perform list after tearing a pectoral muscle in the offseason. By rule, Beatty can start practicing this week to start the clock on a three-week window in which the Giants must activate or keep him on the PUP list.

"When that is decided it will be slow going," Coughlin said of Beatty. "We'll first start with individual [drills]. When exactly that happens, I'm not sure if that's going to start this week or when. But when we do, it will be with the idea of bringing him back slowly.

"You have to put him on the field. You have to put him in football work. You've got to do all those kinds of things. He hasn't done that for a long, long time. And he's got to get used to his pads. He's got a lot of work ahead of him."

As for a checkup with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who suffered serious hand injuries during a July 4 fireworks accident, Coughlin said, "We'll know more about that when it happens. I don't really have a lot to talk about there."


After Tony Romo broke his collarbone in Week 2, Brandon Weeden took over for the Pro Bowl quarterback in Dallas. Weeden lost all three of his starts while throwing one touchdown to two interceptions. But over their bye in Week 6, the Cowboys made the decision to go with Matt Cassel until Romo returns. Cassel is 34-38 in 72 career starts for four different teams, throwing 96 touchdowns to 70 interceptions. He has a career completion percentage of 59.0 with a passer rating of 80.1.

"There are a lot of different reasons you make a decision like this," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "You evaluate the quarterback and what we're asking them to do on a daily basis and weekly basis. Also at this position, you look at how the offense is performing and this position has an impact on the entire offensive unit. It certainly has an impact on how the team is performing. Sometimes it's fair and sometimes it's unfair, but it's the nature of the position."


Meanwhile, the next few days will be important for All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant and his possible return this week. Bryant broke his foot in Week 1 against the Giants and underwent surgery.

"It totally depends on how he's doing," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday morning. "He had a good end of the week last week, got in some really good work, didn't have much negative response from that work. It was strenuous work – the kind that, if he can step out here and have a couple of really good days of practice, you could see him on go."

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