Here is everything you need to know heading into Saturday's preseason opener between the New York Giants and New York Jets:
FANS RETURN FOR PRESEASON OPENER
For the first time since Dec. 29, 2019, fans will see the Giants play a game in person at MetLife Stadium. While they got a sneak peek earlier this week at the Giants Fan Fest, Saturday night will also be the first time they see a Joe Judge-coached team in live action.
"There's a reason this is such a paramount organization in the National Football League, and that really starts with the fans," Judge said. "The game is about the players, it's about the fans, that's really what the connection is. The passion of New York, having the experience to be in MSG during a Knicks playoff game and feeling the energy of those fans really pouring into the game, that's something that's unique. You don't go into every stadium and feel that energy and passion. There's a natural demeanor in this area of the country, specifically in North Jersey and New York of – look, it is a mentally tough area. That's the way it is, that's the way it's supposed to be, and that's the way we've got to train our team to be."
GIANTS VS. JETS HISTORY
The teams met in 51 consecutive summers (1969-2019) before last year's game – and the NFL's entire preseason schedule – was canceled due to the pandemic. This will be just the fourth time the teams that share MetLife Stadium will meet in the preseason opener. They also faced each other to open the preseason in 1983, 2010 and 2019 and were scheduled to do so again in 2020. The Giants have won the four previous preseason meetings to tie the annual series – which began in 1969 – at 25-25-1. The tie was in 1972.
View rare photos from the local rivalry between the Giants and Jets as they prepare for the preseason opener.
PRESEASON PLAYING TIME
With the addition of a 17th regular-season game, the NFL reduced the preseason schedule from four games to three. Judge, who announced that quarterback Daniel Jones will not play in the preseason opener, will treat Saturday's game like the traditional fourth preseason outing, which typically means little to no time for starters. Judge added that the third preseason game – Aug. 29 vs. New England – is when his starters will play the most.
ZACH WILSON TO DEBUT FOR JETS
Meanwhile, in Florham Park, the Jets announced that rookie quarterback Zach Wilson is expected to play at least two series in his first NFL preseason game. The Jets selected Wilson second overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.
JUDGE VS. SALEH
Saturday night will be the first time Judge and first-year Jets coach Robert Saleh man opposing sidelines, and it will be a good test for the Giants' offense. Now in his 17th season coaching in the NFL, Saleh spent the previous four seasons as defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers. Since 2017, his group had ranked third in the league in passing yards allowed (211.4) while producing Pro Bowl players at linebacker (Fred Warner), cornerback (Richard Sherman) and defensive line (Nick Bosa and DeForest Buckner). His defense also helped San Francisco advance to Super Bowl LIV.
UNOFFICIAL DEPTH CHART
The New York Giants released their first unofficial depth chart ahead of Saturday's preseason opener. As always, it is subject to change. It simply serves as a guide and is more for the media than the coaches.
"I tell our guys all the time, when they come in, the depth chart is really blank," coach Joe Judge said. "And as we start practicing and they start putting together things on tape, you start filling in names based off of what they're doing. That can change every day. It's really just cumulative. It's what you do consistently day in and day out. Some guys may flash one day, some guys may flash another day, but ultimately you want to go ahead and measure who's consistently dependable, who's productive for you on the field. But in terms of filling those names in, yeah, the answer is as we start practicing, the names start getting filled in. Now, they're not written in permanent marker, so at any point, based on who is playing, the best get in that spot."
View photos of the Giants' first unofficial depth chart of the 2021 season.
STANDOUTS SO FAR AT CAMP
For those keeping track of camp standouts, they know rookie cornerback Rodarius Williams and wide receiver David Sills have made their presence felt as they try to carve out a place on the depth chart. For more on players to watch on Saturday night, click here.
ROSTER REDUCTIONS COMING
Here are some important dates to follow regarding the roster:
Aug. 17: Prior to 4:00 p.m., clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 85 players on the Active/Inactive List.
Aug. 24: Clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 80 players on the Active/Inactive List.
Aug. 31: Clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List. Simultaneously, clubs that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness must select one of the following options: place player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/NonFootball Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; terminate or request waivers with the designation of Failed Physical or Non-Football Injury or Illness, whichever is applicable; request waivers; terminate contract; trade contract; or continue to count the player on the Active List.
JOINT PRACTICES ON HORIZON
Although Judge doesn't think joint practices with other organizations will fully compensate for one fewer preseason game, he values them. Over the next two weeks, the Giants will hold such sessions in Cleveland and New England ahead of their preseason matchups.
"I've said before, there's no replication for a game," Judge said. "Any experience these players get in a game itself is critical at the beginning of the season not only for their mental preparation, but also physically getting ready with the flow of the game, the hits you're going to take. The things you do in practice, you don't do a lot of live tackling, so the game is obviously played and ends with some kind of tackle. So, the game itself is critical for them to be prepared physically and mentally.
"But in terms of the joint practices, it's definitely a key part of our preparation. Obviously, next week we're at Cleveland, after that we'll be in New England. Both will be unique in our experiences in terms of what we're going to focus on with the other team, but both will be critical for us."
COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF
After the preseason opener, the Giants have less than a month until they kick off at home against the Denver Broncos in Week 1. They'll follow it up with a short week as they hit the road to face the defensing NFC East champion Washington Football Team on Thursday Night Football.
View the best photos from the Giants Fan Fest on Wednesday night at MetLife Stadium.