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10 Things To Watch For

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Giants vs. Jaguars: 10 things to watch for

Ten things to know about the Week 1 matchup between the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars:

1. Home opener. For the first time since 1960, the New York Giants do not open the season on the road or against the Dallas Cowboys – or both. All right, it hasn't been that long. But after playing the divisional rivals for the last three seasons (and five out of six) in Week 1, Big Blue begins a new era with a rare inter-conference matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. This is the first time the Giants open in front of their home crowd since 2012, which is good news for them because they are 3-0 all-time against the Jaguars at home and 0-3 on the road.

2. Shurmur, Marrone looking to take next step. Pat Shurmur and Doug Marrone were one game away last season from playing against each other in the Super Bowl. They meet on Sunday in their first games since then. Shurmur, who was the Vikings' offensive coordinator before taking over as head coach of the Giants this offseason, helped Minnesota advance all the way to the NFC Championship Game against the eventual Super Bowl champion Eagles. Marrone, on the other hand, won the AFC South in his first season as the full-time head coach of the Jaguars, who came less than three minutes away from Super Bowl LII.

3. OV ruled out; injury report. Outside linebacker Olivier Vernon, who got his feet tangled up on a play and sprained his ankle at practice two weeks to the day before the season opener, has been ruled out of Sunday's game along with linebacker Tae Davis (hamstring). Vernon did not participate in practice all week, making his absence more likely with each day. In Jacksonville, All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey (ankle), center Brandon Linder (knee), offensive lineman Jeremy Parnell (knee), and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (core muscle) were limited earlier in the week but practiced fully on Friday and cleared the injury report.

4. The Saquon era begins vs. Fournette. After seeing how rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Kareem Hunt led the entire NFL in rushing in back-to-back years, people have high expectations for second overall pick Saquon Barkley. The Penn State product only fanned the flames when he broke a 39-yard run on his first snap of the preseason. Meanwhile, Jacksonville boasted the No. 1 rushing offense last season in large part due to the play of Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games as a rookie. Jacksonville further boosted its run game over the offseason by signing All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell, whom Dave Gettleman originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State in 2014 when he was general manager of the Panthers.

5. Odell set for first game in 11 months. Three hundred thirty-six days will have passed between Odell Beckham Jr.'s last game and his return in the season opener vs. Jacksonville. The three-time Pro Bowler suffered a season-ending ankle injury last October, and running parallel to his rehab over the offseason was a desire for a new deal. He eventually signed a lucrative contract extension 13 days before the opener. "It's a five-year extension, six years total," Gettleman said. "We got him until he's 108."

6. New-look offensive line in place. The Giants have new starters at all five positions on the offensive line this year. The lineup since spring has been left tackle Nate Solder (free-agent addition from New England), left guard Will Hernandez (rookie second-round pick), center Jon Halapio (moved from guard to center), right guard Patrick Omameh (free-agent addition from Jacksonville), and right tackle Ereck Flowers (flipped sides).

7. First test? Sacksonville. The Jaguars return a franchise-record six Pro Bowlers this season -- all on defense. Calais Campbell led the AFC in sacks last year, while cornerback Jalen Ramsey led the NFL's No. 1 pass defense. The unit also boasts cornerback A.J. Bouye and a front seven that includes Malik Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue and Telvin Smith. Jacksonville set a franchise record with 33 takeaways, and its 55 sacks were second-most in team history. Tom Coughlin's 1999 team still holds the record with 57. 

8. Rookies Carter, Hill ready for impact. The Giants held two third-round picks this past April and used them on outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter and defensive tackle B.J. Hill, who is in the starting lineup next to Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson in the 3-4 front. Carter also figured to make a major impact even before Vernon went down with injury, but that learning curve will have to speed up while he and players like veteran Connor Barwin help fill the void. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher praised both rookies this week, saying Carter is playing faster and calling Hill "one of the most professional rookies" he's ever been around.

9. Week 1 depth chart. The Giants released an updated depth chart ahead of their Week 1 matchup at home against the Jaguars. As always, it is unofficial and simply serves as the base layer of what you will actually see on the field on Sunday. A few takeaways: Alex Tanney and rookie Kyle Lauletta are both listed on the second team, although Shurmur said he likes "having a veteran presence in that group" when it comes to Eli Manning's backup; wide receiver Kaelin Clay, one of the six players claimed off waivers the day after Saturday's 53-man roster deadline, is slotted as the primary punt returner and second behind Cody Latimer on kick return; and second-year running back Wayne Gallman moved to second on the depth chart behind Barkley and ahead of veteran Jonathan Stewart.

10. Eli to surpass Strahan. In Week 1, Eli Manning will play in his 217th regular-season game, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan (216) for most in a Giants uniform. Manning, who made his debut on Sept. 12, 2004, ranks sixth all-time in completions and yards, and eighth in passing touchdowns.

"At the start of the year, you're always excited," Manning said. "You're always excited about the year, you feel good about things so we've got to go out there, we've got to have a great week of preparation, make sure everyone knows all of their assignments, exactly what's going on and then you've got to bring that to Sunday. That's what it's all about is bringing it to game day, making those plays, going out there and finding a way to keep the games close and winning in the end."

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