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10 Things To Watch For

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Giants vs. Patriots: 10 Things to Watch


Everything you need to know heading into Thursday's preseason finale between the New York Giants and New England Patriots:

1. Jones to make first NFL start. Coach Pat Shurmur, who usually likes to let any news about playing time "reveal itself" in the preseason, definitively said at the beginning of the week that rookie quarterback Daniel Jones will start the fourth and final preseason game in New England. Eli Manning will not play in the finale for the fifth consecutive year.

"I'm certainly excited, but I don't think the preparation changes a whole lot," Jones said. "I think going through the week we'll do the same things, and I'll certainly do the same things to prepare myself to play, so in these last three games I've obviously known I'm going to play a good bit, so just the same preparation going into this week."

Through three games, Jones has completed 25 of 30 passes (83.3 percent) for 369 yards and two touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception but did lose two fumbles. Among quarterbacks who have passed more than six times this preseason, Jones is first in yards per attempt (12.3) and second in passer rating (140.1).

"I think it's important that he goes in and executes well," Shurmur said of the finale. "For the amount of time that he's in there, it'll be good to be on the road, like we were last week against the Bengals. There's a lot to be learned going through how we do the cadence and whatnot. But just steady progress like he's really been doing here for all of camp."

2. Eli done until Week 1. Manning heads into the regular season, which will begin with him under center on Sept. 8 in Dallas, after completing nine of 13 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown in three preseason games. The 16-year veteran played the first series of each game. The three drives yielded a three-and-out, a touchdown and a field goal.

"He's done a lot of really good stuff out here," Shurmur said. "He's much more comfortable with what we want to do on offense this year than last year. I feel like as he gets the work he needs in practice, the game work he's gotten will help him be ready for the Cowboys."

3. Roster cuts coming. After the Giants land in the wee hours of Friday morning, they have a day to finalize the roster. Clubs around the league must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players by 4 p.m. on Saturday. A day later, they can establish a practice squad of 10 players.

4. Injury report. The following players did not dress last week vs. Cincinnati: WR Golden Tate (concussion), CB Sam Beal (hamstring), CB DeAndre Baker (knee), CB Antonio Hamilton (groin), LB Alec Ogletree (calf), OT Chad Wheeler (back), OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion) and WR Sterling Shepard (thumb). Additionally, RB Rod Smith came out of the game with an adductor injury and S Kenny Ladler with a hamstring. WR Alex Wesley left Tuesday's practice with an ankle injury, and WR Darius Slayton aggravated his hamstring injury on Sunday.

5. Who will back up Barkley? Running backs coach Craig Johnson joked at the start of training camp that he was pretty sure Saquon Barkley would be the starter, but the complementary roles were less defined. A month later, there are still jobs to be won. Wayne Gallman has been the steady No. 2 ahead of Smith, Paul Perkins and undrafted rookie Jon Hilliman, who has found the end zone in back-to-back games. Meanwhile, Shurmur is very fond of halfback-turned-fullback Eli Penny, who can also take a handoff in a dire situation. The numbers game is about to reach its conclusion.


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6. "Wide open" O-line depth to be tested. The Giants are as confident in their starting five offensive linemen as they have been in years, but who comes after them? "We're going to play this game out (on Thursday) and then we're going to make a decision on who the backups are," Shurmur said. "It's that wide open." Look for players like Evan Brown, Chad Slade, Paul Adams and Nick Gates.

7. Ballentine's breakout summer comes to a close. Rookie cornerback Corey Ballentine will look to cap his impressive showing at training camp and in the preseason games. The sixth-round draft choice from Division II Washburn racked up 11 tackles, three pass breakups and an interception in his first three outings. "In my head, I knew that I could (play at this level)," Ballentine said. "But at the same time, I wanted to prove to myself and to other people that I could."

8. Davis entrenched on first-team defense. Tae Davis, who made the roster at this time last year as an undrafted rookie from Chattanooga, has climbed all the way up to a regular starting job. He is running alongside Ogletree as interior linebackers. "He's gotten better," Shurmur said of Davis. "He's improved. I think we have a lot of young players that made a lot of improvements, because they were getting way more reps a year ago than they would normally get on some rosters. He took full advantage of that, and I think it's helped him in this camp, for sure."

9. Wait for the waiver wire. The Giants won't be concerned with just their roster on Saturday. The 31 other clubs will also flood the waiver wire at that time. While the Giants might not be as active on it as they were last year, they will surely be paying attention.

"I'm always looking at players and seeing which guys might be a good fit for us," Shurmur said. "We know a lot of these players because we've evaluated all of them as coaches, before the draft and then through the years playing against them. We have a pretty substantial scouting report on most of the guys that are in the league. We certainly, as coaches, have an opinion."

10. Next stop: Dallas…again. Next Sunday will be the fourth time in five years and the fifth time in seven seasons the Giants will open at AT&T Stadium, and the fifth consecutive season the Giants' first road game will be in Dallas. And it is the sixth time in those seven seasons they will play in Dallas in the season's first two weeks. Including a home game in 2012, the Giants will face the Cowboys in their opener for the sixth time in eight seasons. The Giants are 5-5 at AT&T Stadium.

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