EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Kickoff Weekend will never get old for Pat Shurmur.
When the Giants host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, it will mark the 20th consecutive year Shurmur will participate in an NFL season opener as an assistant or head coach.
"I've been fortunate enough to be able to do this a very long time," Shurmur said today. "I told the players, game day and game weekend never gets old. I love the rhythm of a Friday, I love the rhythm of Friday evening, the mock game on Saturday, the lead-up to the night meetings. I've always enjoyed the night meetings, and then certainly game day has never gotten old for me.
"The anticipation when you wake up Sunday to play in the game, and I'll bet you – and when I mention this to the players they all start to nod, especially the ones that don't play anymore – that's what players miss. I think when they're not playing anymore, I'm sure that's what they miss. It's important to stay in the moment and enjoy each Sunday."
*In 2017, the Giants offensive line was a big part of the problem in a 3-13 season. Today, new line coach Hal Hunter said the five starting linemen – all either new to the team or their positions - are determined to be a big part of the solution in a successful season.
"I think my unit is very focused," Hunter said. "They're anxious to show what they can do. I think they feel like they've all got something to prove. Everybody's got their own story with some – everybody comes from a different place and they've got a story to prove and what they want to try and show the NFL and the people that are going to be watching them play. Everybody's got their own unique story. Am I a rookie and playing for the first time (like second-round draft choice Will Hernandez, the left guard)? Am I playing in a different position (center Jon Halapio and right tackle Ereck Flowers)? Did I leave one zip code and come to another (left tackle Nate Solder and right guard Patrick Omameh, who were signed as free agents)?
"Everybody's got something they're trying to establish, and so you establish it by signing your work on game day. I think they're focused, they're together, they're anxious to get out there and get some rhythm and play and play together as a unit and be productive, that's the bottom line. They got two jobs, it's real simple: they got to protect the quarterback and play good run football. The offensive line plays real simple. That's all they've got to do and if they do that, you have a good chance to win. If you don't, probably not going to win. That's what you got to do."
*Defensive line coach Gary Emanuel was asked what the secret is to stopping Jacksonville's running game, which led the NFL last year with 141.4 yards per game.
"If I knew the secret, probably everyone in the world would want to talk to me," Emanuel said to laughter from the assembled media. "Their biggest secret is they have an outstanding offensive line. They're really big, and they have a very, very good tandem of backs led by (Leonard) Fournette. They're offensive line is what makes it tick. Their average is like 6-5, 320 pounds, which is a good size. They have a back who is almost as big as the offensive linemen, but he runs a 10.6 (100-yd dash) or whatever he runs in the 100. He's a great player and they have a great offense."
*Two Giants linebackers have been declared out of the game: Olivier Vernon (ankle) and rookie Tae Davis (hamstring).
*Eli Manning will establish some milestones when he takes his first snap on Sunday:
- He will set a franchise record by playing in his 217th regular-season game in a Giants uniform. Manning is currently tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, who played in 216 games from 1993-2007.
- Manning will become the fourth player in the 94-season history of the Giants to play 15 years with the team, joining Strahan, Hall of Famer Mel Hein (1931-45), and quarterback Phil Simms (1979-93).
- Manning will become the fifth quarterback in history to start at least 14 consecutive season openers with one team:
Tom Brady (14 with New England from 2002-2015)
Brett Favre (15 with Green Bay from 1993-2007)
John Elway (16 with Denver from 1983-1998)
Dan Marino (16 with Miami from 1984-1999)
*The Giants signed running back Robert Martin to their practice squad and terminated the practice squad contract of defensive tackle Josh Banks. Martin made the original 53-man roster as a rookie free agent but was waived on Wednesday, when the Giants signed linebacker Nate Stupar.