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Giants vs. Lions: 8 things to watch for


  1. A sense of urgency.  **


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That has been a phrase frequently thrown around the Giants' locker room leading up to Monday night in Detroit. Despite finishing 7-3 in the final 10 games of last season, the Giants couldn't overcome their initial 0-6 hole. No one wants a repeat of that. Meanwhile, history may be on the Giants' side in Week 1. The Giants rank third in NFL history with 49 Kickoff Weekend victories. The Giants also have the fourth-best winning percentage (49-35-5, .583) in season openers.

2. The new offense.
The training wheels are off. After a 5-0 preseason, it's time to see Ben McAdoo's new system in action with a full game plan and starters for all four quarters. "Outside opinions have never affected our game or never had an influence on how we played, so we've just got to know what we do well, we've got to have a great week of preparation, get on the same page with coach McAdoo," quarterback Eli Manning said. "Everybody understands what we have to do individually and what we have to do as a team to go win the game."

3. How the offensive line performs against Detroit's front.
The revamped offensive line faces a tough test right away against a talented group of pass-rushers in Detroit. The offense may start with Manning, but he goes as far as his protection does. "I'm excited to go out there and play some football and show everybody we can do it, stop answering questions about why can't we do this, why can't we do that," right tackle Justin Pugh said. "Go out there and show them."

4. The one-two punch of Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams.

The veteran free agent acquisition and the rookie fourth-round draft choice made a formidable tandem in the preseason, averaging more than five yards per carry in five games. Since taking over as offensive coordinator, McAdoo has stressed fundamentals. It doesn't get more basic than establishing the run while the passing game catches up. Peyton Hillis, a former 1,000-yard rusher, could also make it a three-headed monster.

5. The secondary's first test against Calvin Johnson.
The Giants have pieced together what they hope is one of their best secondaries in recent history. So far, people from both the inside and outside have said it's as good as advertised. But now the games count, starting with Detroit's vaunted passing attack.

6. The status of Jon Beason.

As was his plan, middle linebacker Jon Beason is on track to play in Monday's opener. He returned to practice this week on a limited basis for the first time since injuring his foot in June. However, Beason has not yet been told how much he will play in Week 1. "That's a good thing that they haven't because if it was up to me, I'd play every down," he said. "I'd play offense, too, if I could."

7. Emphasis on Illegal contact.
A major storyline in the preseason was the NFL's new emphasis on illegal contact and other penalties in the secondary, which the Giants -- like most teams -- saw plenty of in August. Now teams will see what effect it has in the regular season. "You expect that whatever the emphasis is, whatever the new rules are, they will implemented in preseason, and you can anticipate it in that it holds true pretty much every year," Coughlin said. "How it goes beyond that, it's going to be an interesting thing to see."

8. Who are the playmakers going to be this season?
It's a simple plea often expressed by Coughlin, but the big-play ability -- on both sides of the ball -- hasn't been consistent for the last two seasons. "It happens out there [pointing to the field]. It's on Sunday," Coughlin said after Friday's practice when asked if he's any closer to finding his playmakers. "I hope we are. We're certainly in position to do that. I thought [wide receiver] Rueben [Randle] made a really nice play out there today, so I hope we can get a bunch of guys that will make plays and move the ball and reinforce everybody … build their confidence and give us the idea that we can do many things with many people."

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