It is rather ironic that the New York Giants will begin their 2018 preseason against the Cleveland Browns.

The Giants and Browns are, in some ways, mirror images of one another. They had the NFL’s worst records in 2017, going a combined 3-29. They fired their general managers in the middle of the seasons of discontent. As a reward for their futility, the Browns and Giants selected first and second respectively in the 2018 NFL Draft.

This preseason opener is a magical time for both teams. It will mark the official turning of the page from last season to this one. This is especially important for a team that set a franchise record for losses in a 16-game season. It’s even more important for the team that didn’t register a single win in ’17.

The first preseason game is usually filled with rookies and veteran players fighting for a spot on the team. Because there is so much going on, the FPC Giants staff will examine what they will be paying the most attention to as the Giants take the field for the first time in more than eight months.

Christian Morell-FPC Giants Contributor

The 2017 Giants had a hard time generating consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, turning this weakness into a strength was a huge priority this offseason.

They signed Kareem Martin and Connor Barwin in free agency, two guys who are known for getting after the quarterback. They also drafted Lorenzo Carter in the third round. In the new 3-4 scheme, Olivier Vernon is now a stand-up pass rusher and this role looks to suit him much better than his former role as a 4-3 defensive end.

The Giants seem to have some options and a possible rotation to keep guys from getting fatigued during games. Overall these pass rushers have had their way with the linemen they have faced, so it’d be good to see them produce pressure and sacks tonight against the Browns. Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield are both mobile quarterbacks, so seeing the line sack these guys would be very impressive.

Curtis Rawls—FPC Giants Managing Editor

For me, it’s all about the Helmet Rule.

In case you’ve been living a under a rock, the Helmet Rule declares a penalty occurs “if a player lowers his head to initiate contact with his helmet against an opponent. Contact does not have to be to an opponent’s head or neck area—lowering the head and initiating contact to opponent’s torso, hips, and lower body area is also a foul”. Players, coaches, fans, and analysts alike have no idea whatsoever how this rule will affect the way the game is played and called.

The last time the Giants and Browns met in the preseason was Aug. 21, 2017. In that game, Odell Beckham Jr. was hit by Browns safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun in the left leg. Beckham missed the final two preseason games and the regular season opener with a sprained ankle. Four weeks after Beckham’s 2017 regular season debut, he was lost for the season when he broke his left ankle. Boddy-Calhoun led with his head when he hit Beckham. There was no penalty but plenty of outrage by Giants fans and NFL players alike.

Carlos Rodríguez—FPC Giants Contributor

Saquon Barkley (and, to a lesser degree, Will Hernandez and Lorenzo Carter).

Barkley already has the number one selling jersey in the NFL and among the top picks in fantasy football lists…without taking a single snap.

Even co-owner John Mara has mentioned he worries about the hype that surrounds Barkley. He has said and done all of the right things, so far. He’s politically correct when answering questions from the media, he’s integrating well with his teammates and he practices and studies equally hard.

The dedication to his craft is refreshing and it hopefully translates onto the field. There are many storylines to follow this preseason but I believe the biggest one of all is a rookie running back from Penn State. The size of his quads has been well documented, but we will find out if his shoulders can carry the weight of a franchise.

– Christian Morell is a Contributor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL and the New York Giants. Please like and follow on Facebook and Twitter. Christian can be followed on Twitter @Cmorell72.

– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL, the New York Giants, and the NBA. Please like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @CuRawls203.

– Carlos Rodriguez is a Contributor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL and the New York Giants. Please like and follow on Facebook and Twitter. Christian can be followed on Twitter @openurmnd.

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