(Sports Network) – The annual preseason battle for Big Apple bragging rights will have a special magic on Monday night, when the New York Giants “visit” the New York Jets in the first football game at sparkling new Meadowlands Stadium.
The 82,556 seat stadium, which was built at a cost of $1.6 billion, will house both the Giants and Jets. The facility has hosted concerts as well as lacrosse and soccer matches since being unveiled in April, but Monday night’s contest will be the first football event in the venue.
As they adjust to their new surroundings, both teams will be trying to get some important work done as they kick off the preseason.
The Giants are seeking to rebound from last year’s disappointing 8-8 season, and Big Blue fans will get their first look at a revamped defense on Monday night.
The shift starts up front, where first-round end Jason Pierre-Paul (South Florida) and the occasionally disgruntled Osi Umenyiora will be among those looking to make strides in new coordinator Perry Fewell’s defense. If this group gets in step early, things will be easier for a linebacking corps that should include the likes of fourth-round rookie Phillip Dillard (Nebraska) and veteran acquisition Keith Bulluck (ex-Titans) at various times on Monday.
On the back end, the Giants are looking for big things out of $37 million safety Antrel Rolle (ex-Cardinals) and will be eager to gauge how well former first-rounder Kenny Phillips can rebound from a career-threatening knee problem. Phillips’ status for Monday is in question as he continues to recover from the injury.
Offensively, quarterback Eli Manning’s reps will likely be limited against the Giants, which will give the team and their fans plenty of opportunity to assess the work of backups Jim Sorgi and Rhett Bomar.
Meanwhile, expectations are sky-high for the 2010 Jets, but unforeseen struggles during the preseason could alter that thinking.
Offensively, new backup QB Mark Brunell can be expected to see more time on Monday than starter Mark Sanchez, but the Shonn Greene/LaDainian Tomlinson/Joe McKnight running back triumvirate could garner more of the headlines.
On defense, Jets supporters will keep an eye on disappointing former first- round pick Vernon Gholston, who is transitioning from outside linebacker to defensive end. In the secondary, where All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis is a conspicuous holdout, first-round rookie Kyle Wilson (Boise State) and fellow newcomer Antonio Cromartie (ex-Chargers) will get a chance to display their skills on Monday.
The two occupants of the new Meadowlands facility traditionally meet each summer, with the Jets leading the all-time preseason series with the Giants by a margin of 22-18-1. The AFC team was a 27-25 victor in last year’s exhibition and has won three in a row over its NFC counterpart in the preseason.