Here are five players to watch in Sunday's matchup between the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers:
WR Sterling Shepard
With Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney dealing with injuries, Shepard could be heavily relied upon this week. The longest-tenured active Giant also continues to climb the franchise record books. Last week, Shepard (341) passed Chris Calloway (334) into eighth place on the franchise's career receptions list. Pro Football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford is seventh with 367. Shepard is fourth among wide receivers in team history, trailing only Amani Toomer (668), Odell Beckham, Jr. (390) and Ike Hilliard (368). Shepard did appear on the injury report late in the week with a hamstring injury, and the Giants will wait to see his status for Sunday.
S Xavier McKinney
The Giants have at least one takeaway in each of their first six games for the first time since 2011 (first 10). McKinney, a second-year pro, kept the streak alive last week with not one but two interceptions. He now faces quarterback Sam Darnold, who has thrown seven interceptions this season. Six have come during the Panthers' three-game losing streak. Only Zach Wilson, Trevor Lawrence, and Patrick Mahomes have thrown more interceptions this season.
DL Leonard Williams
Coach Matt Rhule pledged his Panthers will have a "vastly different look" on offense moving forward. After starting 3-0, Carolina has dropped its past three games, and Rhule said the key to getting his team back on track is to refocus their energy on the run game. Williams, who had 1.5 sacks last week, leads a defensive front that will try to stop the run and affect the passer.
"We're not going to line up and drop back and throw it 40 times a game and think that's going to win the game for us," Rhule said. "It hasn't. So there's no [Christian] McCaffrey, Chuba [Hubbard is] showing us he can run the ball at a high level when given enough opportunities. So we're going to redefine who we are. We're going to run the football, and we're going to protect our quarterback, and we're not going to turn the ball over anymore. And that's the only way that we're going to win."
OT Nate Solder
Left tackle Andrew Thomas had been a bright spot this season, but the second-year pro was placed on injured reserve this week. He suffered an ankle injury in the Week 6 loss to the Rams after missing two games with a foot issue. He must sit out at least three games before becoming eligible to return to the roster. The next man up is veteran Nate Solder. Matt Peart, another second-year pro, and Korey Cunningham, who was recently signed off the practice squad, are also expected to rotate at tackle.
K Graham Gano
The past two meetings between the Giants and Panthers were decided by a last-second Graham Gano field goal – but he was wearing a Carolina jersey both times. Gano made a 43-yarder as time expired for a 38-35 Panthers victory in 2015. He then made a 63-yarder with one second remaining in a 33-31 victory over the Giants in 2018. Since he joined the Giants in 2020, Gano has made nine 50-yard field goals and needs one more to pass Joe Danelo for the most in franchise history.
View photos of the custom Giants helmet designed by Marvel ahead of Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.