These 5 players will face the most scrutiny heading into Week 1

EAST RUTHERFORD – Saquon Barkley dominates the spotlight. daniel jones He’s gotten very used to being in the spotlight since the third game of his NFL career when he replaced Eli Manning as the Giants’ quarterback.

So for Barkley and Jones, when the lights go up inside MetLife Stadium for the 2023 season opener against the Cowboys, the franchise’s pair of offensive stars will undoubtedly find themselves front and center.

That’s pretty much a given on “Sunday Night Football,” and before long, maybe as early as Week 1 if the rest of the league wakes up, andres tomas and Dexter Lawrence They will also find their way into that category.

But what about the five Giants players who are about to face the most scrutiny on opening night, on whom the spotlight will shine brightest? We’ll see:

Neal battled injuries and many setbacks in a challenging NFL indoctrination, the toughest outing of which came in Week 3 against the Cowboys when they got three running sacks of Jones on their side.

The Giants believe he’s primed not just for a rebound this season, but for a leap as well, and what better setting to start it than against the defensive front that gave him nightmares last year. The 6-foot-7 Neal weighs 345 pounds, eight under his rookie playing weight. He’s tweaked his stance to gain more fluidity and quickness, and you can bet every one of his plays will be broken down and analyzed later.

A fair game from Neal will go a long way in validating his development as a player.

John Michael Schmitz, C.

New York Giants center John Michael Schmitz (61) participates in training activities at the NFL football team's practice facility, Sunday, July 30, 2023, in East Rutherford.  (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

New York Giants center John Michael Schmitz (61) participates in training activities at the NFL football team’s practice facility, Sunday, July 30, 2023, in East Rutherford. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Schmitz won the competition in the center with Ben Bredeson at joint practices in Detroit and the two preseason games that followed. He continues to show physicality at the point of attack with the will to look for blocking targets on the second level. There was also no communication problem to speak of in its entirety.

Once Schmitz got over the initial struggles with Lawrence’s dominance, he’s settled into the job and looks set to give the Giants their first real starting center since Weston Richburg. Still, it will be different in a game that counts in the standings, and any setbacks will be magnified.

New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) lines up on the first day of training camp in East Rutherford on Wednesday, July 26, 2023.

New York Giants defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) lines up on the first day of training camp in East Rutherford on Wednesday, July 26, 2023.

Thibodeaux joked last season that “I love prime time,” however, his dominating performance against Washington later in the year likely proves he was more serious than initially thought. He made his professional debut against the Cowboys in Week 3 last year and was limited to one tackle while still recovering from a medial collateral ligament injury suffered in the preseason.

When the two teams met on Thanksgiving Day, Thibodeaux had five hits off the quarterback and it was over. dak prescott.

There’s no better time for Thibodeaux to start fast and do his part to make Prescott uncomfortable, considering the Cowboys quarterback has won 10 straight starts against the Giants since he was swept as a rookie in 2016.

Adoree’ Jackson, CB

New York Giants cornerback Adoree' Jackson answers a question from NorthJersey.com's Art Stapleton, left, after organized team activity (OTA) at the Giants training center on Wednesday, January 31. May 2023, in East Rutherford.

New York Giants cornerback Adoree’ Jackson answers a question from NorthJersey.com’s Art Stapleton, left, after organized team activity (OTA) at the Giants training center on Wednesday, January 31. May 2023, in East Rutherford.

The presence of first-round rookie Tae Banks and the surprisingly quick appearance of sixth-round rookie Three Hawkins III has given Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale the opportunity to move Jackson inside at nickel corner. That matters more against the Cowboys than it does against other star receiver opponents. CeeDee Lamb lining up a ton in the slot.

Jackson comes into the season as the Giants’ No. 1 cover man, so in this case starting Banks and Hawkins on the edge will allow Martindale to follow Lamb much as he did. Justin Jefferson in the playoff win over the Vikings in January. There will be a lot of attention on Jackson there, given the importance of the rookie captain’s contributions with a pair of cornerbacks making their professional debuts abroad.

July 27, 2023;  East Rutherford, NJ, USA;  New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney (29) and offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, right, greet players on the second day of training camp at the Quest Diagnostics training facility.  Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

July 27, 2023; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney (29) and offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, right, greet players on the second day of training camp at the Quest Diagnostics training facility. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

McKinney enters his fourth season in the final year of his rookie contract. He is a two-time captain and one of the Giants’ most respected players. However, his profile as a playmaker is higher internally than it is in the league right now, so any chance McKinney has to prove he can be an impact player is precious.

Playing with Jason Pinnock Along with him at safety, McKinney will have the opportunity to make plays in coverage, as he did with his fourth-down stoppage of T.J. Hockenson in Minnesota to pull off that victory, but his presence in the box could turn the tables and make observers really take notice.

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NY Giants: These 5 players face the most pressure against Dallas in Week 1

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