If this week at training camp was any indicator, the Giants are ready to face a fresh opponent in a different uniform.
They will do just that on Thursday night in Foxborough, where the Giants and Patriots kick off their three-game preseason schedule. This is the first time they will meet in the opener since 2003 as the Giants lead the preseason series, 19-11. The two teams first met in the preseason in 1971.
But this is a new era.
Brian Daboll will man the sideline for the first time as head coach, and Joe Schoen will watch his inaugural roster as general manager start to come to life. After the game, there is exactly one month to go until the regular season.
Here are three questions heading into the preseason:
How does the offense perform as Mike Kafka calls plays?
Daboll has not publicly announced who will call the team's offensive plays this season, but Mike Kafka, the Giants' first-year offensive coordinator, assumed that duty throughout the offseason practices and in training camp. He will also do so when the Giants play their first preseason game.
"I look at it as an opportunity," Kafka said. "An opportunity not only for myself, but for the players. Everyone out there is working hard to make the team and show what they can do and show that they can build themselves a role. So, I'm looking to go out and do my job to the best of my ability and put the guys in the best position to be successful and show what they can do."
Daboll and Kafka, who came from two of the most potent teams in the AFC, have been charged with improving a Giants offense that finished 31st in the NFL in scoring 15.2 points per game last year. Daboll was a coordinator/play-caller for nine years, including eight in the NFL, the last four with the high-scoring Buffalo Bills.
"It's been great learning experiences between the situations we call in practice, and Dabes does a great job of mixing those type of things in throughout practice, whether it be in the red zone, two-minute, backed up, short yardage," said Kafka, who spent the previous five seasons as an assistant coach on Andy Reid's staff with the Kansas City Chiefs, the last two as the team's quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. "We've thrown so many situations at not only just the coaches and play-callers but also at the players. And I'm really proud of how they've responded to those things."
How do Kayvon Thibodeaux, Evan Neal, and the rookies fare in their first NFL game?
Holding two picks in the top 10 for the first time in Giants history, Schoen and Daboll used major draft capital to lay the foundation for their new regime. They took edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux at fifth overall and selected Evan Neal two picks later to man the right tackle spot. That was just the beginning of an 11-player draft haul, which also included a dynamic receiver in Wan'Dale Robinson in Round 2. Many of them are about to get their first taste of a live NFL game.
"I expect it to be fast, aggressive, up-tempo, and violent, just like any other football game would be," Neal said. "I'm excited for that."
Which player(s) will break out?
From former offensive lineman Rich Seubert to wide receiver Victor Cruz, the Giants have a history of finding championship pieces from the undrafted ranks. And they tend to make a name for themselves in the preseason. The first round of roster reductions begins Aug. 16, when clubs must get to a maximum of 85 players. A week later, they must reduce to 80 and then the final 53 on Aug. 30.
"I think personnel and Dabes have done a great job of gathering some smart, tough, and dependable players," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. "We're going to be on the process of the next three preseason games finding out who's the smartest, who's the toughest and who's the most dependable – because all three of those factors are what we're going to build on. I like where we are at."
View photos of the Giants traveling to Foxborough ahead of their preseason opener against the New England Patriots Thursday.