ROOKIES SET TO MAKE NFL DEBUT
The preseason opener represents the first NFL game action for all rookies around the league. For the Giants, 15 first-year players are expected to play Friday night when they begin their three-game preseason slate against the Lions at Ford Field.
"It's a good opportunity for a lot of young guys," coach Brian Daboll said.
"I'm really excited for it," added cornerback Deonte Banks. "Really excited, just cause it's my first one, being in those big stadiums. It's my first one and it's a warm-up to get ready for all the rest of the games that are coming."
Including Banks, the team's entire seven-man draft class is set to play. Center John Michael Schmitz and wide receiver Jalin Hyatt discussed their excitement leading up to the preseason opener.
"You've got to take a moment," Schmitz said. "It's about the little things in life, just walking out on the field for the first time is going to be something special. You've got to always be thankful for every opportunity you're given and grateful for it, you can't let it slip by."
"Definitely a blessing for me, just to go out there with the guys, my teammates," said Hyatt. "I'm ready to show what I can do. It's going to be fun. I've always wanted to be in the league, always wanted to be in the NFL. To be here with the Giants is a dream come true."
The New York Giants and Detroit Lions have faced off against each other 46 times during the regular season, with the Lions holding a slight 24-21-1 edge in the all-time series. The two teams last met in the preseason back in 2018, when the Giants traveled to Ford Field and defeated the Lions 30-17.
View photos from Detroit, where the Giants and Lions held joint practices ahead of their preseason opener.
HISTORY BETWEEN DABOLL & CAMPBELL
By this point, most people know about the history between Giants head coach Brian Daboll and Lions head coach Dan Campbell.
Back in 2011, Daboll, then the offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins, interviewed Dan Campbell for the team's tight ends coach opening. Campbell slammed chairs and hit walls while going through mock drills, and eventually landed the job. Fast forward 12 years and the two head coaches have their respective programs trending in the right direction. The history between the two coaches helped lead to the two days of joint practices leading up to the preseason opener.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dan as a coach and as a person, him, and his family," Daboll said Tuesday morning before the first joint practice. "He is an outstanding, outstanding guy. He's got high energy. When we worked together back in 2011, I think it's well-documented his interview, the players I think have a lot of respect for him. He's high energy, just a really good coach, a good guy that I have a lot of respect for."
Offensive tackle Devery Hamilton and running back Gary Brightwell both missed the second joint practice with the Lions. According to the head coach, neither player should be out for too long.
"I just think it might not be a day-to-day thing, it might be maybe a week. Nothing long term," Daboll said Wednesday morning.
Defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson and offensive lineman Marcus McKethan were activated off the physically unable to perform list earlier this week, and neither player did any team work during the joint practices.
"They are going to kind of ramp up," Daboll said about the two linemen before Tuesday's practice. "They won't be doing any team stuff, but we are going to get them in the individual and some of the stuff that we do so get those guys ramped up."
FIRST UNOFFICIAL DEPTH CHART
The Giants released their first unofficial depth chart Tuesday ahead of the preseason opener. As always, it is subject to change. It simply serves as a guide, more so for the media than the coaches.
The Giants have Banks and Schmitz, their first two draft picks, in starting spots. The latter has been competing with Ben Bredeson, who is slated at first-team left guard. Hyatt, the third-round pick who has been making some big plays at camp, is in the second-team column. Isaiah Hodgins, Parris Campbell, and Darius Slayton are listed as the top three receivers.
Cornerback Tre Hawkins III, a sixth-round pick, has been a pleasant surprise, earning some reps with the first team. The Old Dominion product is listed on the second team.
Rookie Eric Gray is listed as the fourth running back and first punt returner.
"I think he's got good short-space quickness, good balance, good vision," Daboll said Monday. "He's got some good moves in the open field. He's a one-cut guy, a young guy I think has some talent to work with and now we've got to try to develop it. We'll give him ample opportunity in the preseason to return these balls."
DABOLL, KAFKA 'OFFENSIVE GURUS'
One of the Giants' biggest moves of the offseason was keeping Mike Kafka after the offensive coordinator received some head coaching interest. Kafka and Daboll are responsible for creating the offense, which found success in 2022. The two offensive minds have impressed wide receiver Parris Campbell, who signed with the team during free agency.
"Dabs and Kaf, man, they're offensive gurus," said the veteran receiver. "They really know what they're doing. Dabs has so much in his arsenal, he wants to always keep the defense guessing. So, we've got a lot of different plays, a lot of different things to learn."
DJ'S GROWTH IN YEAR 2 IN OFFENSE
Daniel Jones is coming off his most efficient season in the NFL last year. He registered new career-marks with 3,205 passing yards and a 92.5 passer rating, while also setting new franchise records in several categories, including completion percentage (67.5), interception percentage (1.06; No. 1 in the NFL), rushing yards (708) and rushing touchdowns (seven). Jones also found success throwing the ball downfield last season, as his 119.3 passer rating on deep passes was the third-highest in the NFL, while his 43.5 deep completion percentage ranked ninth. The 6-foot-5 quarterback also threw a career-low five interceptions.
Now heading into his second season playing in Daboll and Kafka's offense, Jones feels a lot more comfortable in the system.
"I think having run a lot of these plays now for a year and seeing a lot of the looks, gotten through the reads. I think the more you do anything, the more repetitions you have, the better you get at it," said the fifth-year quarterback. "Still a ways to go and things that I've got to sharpen up but I think that we all feel better in year two in the system."
WALLER: 'IT FEELS GOOD TO FEEL FRESH'
Tight end Darren Waller had a stellar two-year stretch with the Raiders from 2019-20. In that span, the 6-foot-6 tight end put together back-to-back seasons with over 1,100 yards, totaling 197 receptions for 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns. This led to him being named to the Pro Bowl in 2020.
Injuries limited Waller to just nine games (six starts) last season. However, he still caught 28 passes for 388 yards and three touchdowns. His 13.9 yards per reception set a new career-high, and despite missing eight games, his seven catches of 20+ yards downfield led the tight end position. Following Tuesday's practice, Waller touched on how grateful he is for his health thus far this summer.
"I've felt great this training camp," the tight end said. "Just getting more reps, the reps increased today as we get into more of a game-like environment. So, yeah, just continuing to go. I was telling some of the coaches I don't think I've gone through a full training camp just being out there with the guys without one, like, a turf toe, or diving for a catch and spraining my AC joint. Just being here for a full training camp throughout the whole process has been fun and it feels good to feel fresh and just get out and just be able to run every day and do everything you're asked to do."
CAMPBELL, JONES BUILDING CHEMISTRY
After injuries limited him to just 15 total games in his first three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, wide receiver Parris Campbell played all 17 contests last year with 16 starts. The 6-foot, 208-pound receiver set career-highs in almost every category with his 63 receptions for 623 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to five rush attempts for 58 yards (11.6 avg.). Campbell has been working on improving the chemistry between him and Daniel Jones leading up to the start of the season.
"I think it's continued to build each and every day," Campbell said about his connection with his quarterback. "I think the stuff we did in the offseason, the throwing trips, getting together, obviously OTAs, and just all that stuff, accumulation, has started off to be just a great rapport between us. But it's still early, we've got a long way to go, a long way to build and once again, I'm excited to go to Detroit and put that to the test and continue to keep building. But definitely, I feel like we're in a good spot."
Campbell and Jones both entered the NFL in 2019, something that the wide receiver believes has helped the two bond quickly.
"With Daniel, he's kind of the first quarterback I've had relatively close to my age," Campbell said. "We're basically the same age, got us in the same draft class. So, I feel like it's easier to relate to him in certain ways. Like I said, he's working all hours of the day, man. I'm not kidding you. Like, it's all hours of the day. So, it's just pretty cool to see and it's pretty cool to be able to kind of relate on a more personal level."
SCOUTING THE LIONS
Detroit's defense finished 28th in points and 32nd in yards allowed in 2022. However, the Lions made several additions to this side of the ball through both free agency and the draft, and the defense now looks noticeably different than it did last season. Waller noted the talent on Detroit's defense earlier this week.
"They've got a lot of talented guys like (defensive lineman Aidan) Hutchinson up front, trying to pass protect against him, he's real freaky up front," Waller said. "You've got (cornerback Emmanuel) Moseley and (cornerback Cam) Sutton, guys I've played against that have been solid corners. (Defensive back C.J.) Gardner-Johnson is a really good player; I've played against him as well. So, a lot of good guys. Athletic linebackers. They're going to be a good team. They've got a great roster, they've got a lot of confidence, and it shows."
For all of the defense's struggles last season, the offense thrived. The Lions offense finished top five in both points and yards, in addition to ranking fourth in red zone touchdown percentage (66.2 percent). Quarterback Jared Goff had a strong campaign with 4,438 yards, 29 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. His top option in the passing game is wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who caught 106 receptions for 1,161 yards and six touchdowns on his way to earning his first Pro Bowl selection.
Similar to its defense, Detroit's backfield has an entirely different look in 2023. After losing Jamaal Williams to the Saints in free agency and trading D'Andre Swift to the Eagles, the Lions replaced the two backs with a veteran and a rookie. First, they signed David Montgomery, formerly of the Chicago Bears, before drafting Alabama's Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th overall pick in this year's draft.
View rare photos from the all-time series between the New York Giants and Detroit Lions.