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What we learned from the Giants' preseason opener

The New York Giants opened the preseason with a 31-22 victory over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Here are five things we learned from the game:

1. Daniel Jones was perfect (to the naked eye). When people look at the box score for the sixth overall draft choice, they will see a 158.3 passer rating. Taking over for Eli Manning on the second drive, Jones completed all five of his pass attempts for 67 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown to wide receiver Bennie Fowler. In other words, he was perfect. Right?

"He got all completions and he got us in the end zone," said coach Pat Shurmur, who wanted to see Jones play behind the first-team offensive line. "That was a very effective drive. He did a good job. He had a couple mistakes in there that we'll clean up. I guess to the naked eye it was a good job."

So what did he do wrong?

"He didn't motion the tight end across on the first play," Shurmur said. "Those types of things. Things that we see. As I mentioned, to the naked eye, you possibly didn't see."

Shurmur was then asked what is his message to Giants fans who are perhaps getting a little too excited by Jones' performance.

"I think, 'Slow your roll.' This is just his first go around," Shurmur said. "I think he did a good job. As I mentioned, all along he has done nothing to disappoint us, and certainly when you take the team down the field and score a touchdown—that's a good start. It's something good to build on. We have a lot of time left before we start playing games. Nothing at this point has changed.

2. Jake Carlock is a team favorite. A native of Babylon, N.Y., Carlock converted from safety to linebacker following a standout career at LIU Post. Wherever he lines up, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound undrafted rookie seems to find the football. With a little over four minutes left in the third quarter, Carlock, coming off the left edge, batted a pass from former Giants quarterback Davis Webb at the line of scrimmage, tipped the ball to himself, and ran it back 59 yards for a touchdown.

"That was awesome, wasn't it?" Shurmur said. "He's a team favorite because he's so tough. When we had all of those injuries, those little nagging injuries at the first part of training camp, he took a ton of reps—more than the law allows. He's tough, tough as nails. The sideline exploded when he scored. It was really a great feeling. He's a fan favorite on our team."

"I mean it feels awesome, especially for me. I grew up a die-hard Giants fan, so this is pretty surreal for me," Carlock said. "Since Day 1, these guys have welcomed me in and they're all good guys and all the veterans are helping me out, so I'm having an awesome time."

3. Giants witness new P.I. rule. Shurmur was so eager to see the new pass interference rule that he admittedly was willing to throw a challenge flag just to get a feel for it. He didn't have to; new Jets head coach Adam Gase did it for him. Under the new rule, offensive and defensive pass interference calls and non-calls are now subject to review. Coaches can challenge those calls outside of the final two minutes of each half. Inside of two minutes, they will be subject to a booth review.

With 9:01 left in the third quarter, rookie cornerback Corey Ballentine seemingly made a good play to break up a long pass from Webb intended for Tim White. But that was in real time. Gase threw the red challenge flag, and the play was reversed to a 33-yard defensive pass interference penalty. The Jets ended up punting on the drive, but it was good for both sides to get down the mechanics of it all.

"Well, to the naked eye and at game speed, I thought it was a terrific play," Shurmur said. "When you slow it down, you see that he grabbed his wrist. That's a great example of how a play is going to get changed. I am sort of glad that Adam challenged it. It was good on his part. As soon as it was challenged, and had it been flipped we would have done the same thing, because as soon as it was challenged, my guys upstairs said, 'We're going to lose this.'"

4. Ballentine got the last laugh. Just like he had done three times already in training camp practices this summer, the sixth-round draft choice notched an interception. On the possession after Carlock's pick-six, Ballentine found himself part of a play that was similar to the one that resulted in the replay penalty. This time, there were no yellow or red flags. Instead, he came up with the football. 

"Just taking it from practice and transitioning to the game was a big thing I was trying to focus on, and just improving," Ballentine said. "Coach put me in the right position, and it was up to me to make the play. So, I went out there and tried to do my thing."

"I am a big fan of his, ever since we've done the evaluation on him and we picked him," Shurmur said. "If you're going to play in this game and have success, you have to be tough and competitive. He is both. He's had to go through some adversity here, but we've seen him compete and make plays in practice. I said it today when we were doing our in-house stuff. Some guys can learn it in the meeting room, but can't take it to the practice. Some guys can. There are some guys who can take it to the practice field, then when they get out here, it just goes away on them. It was obvious that he competed out there just like he did on the practice field, and that's a good thing."

5. First-team offensive line took valuable reps. Healthy and not going up against their teammates in blue, the five starting offensive linemen saw live action together for the first time since the arrivals of right guard Kevin Zeitler and right tackle Mike Remmers. Those two are, the Giants hope, the final pieces to an elite unit that already included left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Will Hernandez and center Jon Halapio, who is competing with Spencer Pulley for the starting job. Shurmur called their first performance together "pretty good."

"Early on, we didn't get quite as much pressure as some had predicted that we'd get," he added. "I thought for the most part they did a pretty good job. Again, I am going to hold final judgment until I visit with you guys tomorrow at the 12 p.m. conference call. We'll be able to watch the tape, get evaluated, and I'll have a little better feel for it. The guys battled, and they kept the quarterbacks' feet clean."

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) after a catch against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

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