GIANTS TO FACE COWBOYS EZEKIEL ELLIOTT IN OPENER
The Giants start the season with the unenviable task of playing the Dallas Cowboys on the road.
Big Blue enters the game banged up already and will likely be missing wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. and will have cornerback Eli Apple in a limited role.
The Giants will be facing Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is eligible to play in Sunday’s season opener even though an arbitrator upheld Elliott’s six-game suspension handed down by commissioner Roger Goodell that stems from a domestic violence case.
The second-year running back rushed for a league-leading 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns in his rookie season to help lead the Cowboys to the NFC East title.
Head coach Ben McAdoo said the team’s preparation is the same regardless. He said the Cowboys blocking schemes are the same no matter who quarterback Dak Prescott hands the ball off to.
“Listen, our focus is on preparing for Dallas and all backs run the same when there is nowhere to run,” McAdoo said. “So, our goal is to do our job and be prepared to stop the run and if he’s playing, great; if he’s not, then that’s great. We are going to play whoever suits up for them.”
GIANTS ON OFFENSE
The Giants still newcomer Brandon Marshall to throw to. The 12-year veteran missed about a week of practice after a hit he took during New York’s Aug. 21 game in Cleveland.
Marshall declared himself 100 percent for Sunday.
“I’ll be out there,” he said on Monday. “I feel good other than that hit I had in Cleveland, the body feels amazing. This is probably the only camp that I’ve had where I really didn’t have anything. So, that’s kind of encouraging being 33 and trying to be aware of where I’m at. My body – I try to keep track and try to be mindful of that so I know how to treat it, but I feel amazing.”
Giants ageless quarterback Eli Manning talked about preparing for the game with knowing if he will have all his weapons
“I don’t think the preparation is different,” Manning said. “I think guys know what their assignments are. Just go about our business and still run the same plays and guys have to know how to execute and we have the guys that can do that.”
Manning also talked about his chemistry with Marshall at this point on the field.
“Brandon and I will be on the same page,” he said. “But, again, there’s always a learning curve. We’re on the same page. It doesn’t mean we’ll complete every pass that I throw to him, but we’ve gotten a lot of work and communicate all the time about the different things. So, I expect us to go out there and make the plays that we need to make.”
Manning will no doubt be looking to exploit a Cowboys secondary that features Eagles reject Nolan Carroll at left cornerback.
Manning said with so few starters playing much in preseason, it is hard to get a read on an opponent.
“Tough to tell just from, obviously, you’re watching preseason games and their starters didn’t play a whole lot,” Manning said. “But I think they’re a very fast team. They run to the ball. They know their assignments. They’re very disciplined and they do a good job just flocking to the ball and keeping everything out in front – not giving up too many big plays. So, we have to just be able to be patient, have long drives and try to find some ways to hit some big plays on them.”
GIANTS ON DEFENSE
The Cowboys have so many weapons on offense to come at you with. From the offensive line led by Travis Frederick and Zach Martin, to their receivers led by ez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams plus the always tough tight end Jason Witten.
Prescott is coming off an impressive rookie season and the Giants expect him to be better. Safety Landon Collins said at least thy now have tape on him
“It’s a better advantage,” Collins said. “We’ve got film on him, we know what he likes to do, we know where his escape routes are and we know his concepts.”
Collins talked about whether stopping the run is the top priority when trying to beat the Cowboys.
“Stopping the run is top of the list for each and every team we play against,” He said. “So, that’s big and Coach ‘Spags’ [Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] drives us on it each and every week. If some team gets over a certain amount of yardage and we allowed it – man, we can’t stand to hear his voice, so that’s our biggest and most important goal from the get-go.”
On Monday Collins said he hoped Elliott plays.
“I’m hoping that his appeal goes through,” Collins said. “He’s a great player, an exciting player and I love to play against the best players. If not, we’re going to see him in the second game [against Dallas] and we’ll keep working on whoever they’ve got [playing running back] and work them throughout the game.”
The Cowboys have an outstanding kicker in seven-year veteran Dan Bailey. Bailey was 27 of 32 last year with a long kick of 56 yards.
The Giants will go with rookie Aldrick Rosas out of Southern Oregon.
This could be a big advantage for the Cowboys.
It will be close but Big Blue loses opener 31-21.