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Giants-Cowboys preview: Evan Engram excited for national anthem

Giants tight end Evan Engram speaks with the

Giants tight end Evan Engram speaks with the media after OTAs in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Friday, June 9, 2017. Photo Credit: Brad Penner

STAR(SPANGLED)-STRUCK

Most rookies look forward to their first regular-season game. Tight end Evan Engram will be relishing his first regular-season pregame.

The first-round draft pick said this week that he is excited not so much about playing against the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium Sunday night but being on the sideline for the national anthem.

“I can’t even explain it,” he said. “I don’t know what to expect. I know the national anthem will probably be crazy. In that stadium, Sunday Night, first game – it’s going to be wild. I can’t wait.”

Engram said at Ole Miss, where he played his college ball, he and his team remained in the locker room during the anthem. This week, though, when he closed his eyes and visualized what it will be like on Sunday night, he heard the familiar strains of “O say can you see.”

“I can’t wait,” Engram said. “I’m itching.”

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

There is no easing into the season for the Giants.

“It’s the Dallas Cowboys on opening weekend,” defensive tackle Damon Harrison said. “It doesn’t get any better.”

The question is: Can the Giants get better? They’re hoping to in 2017, with postseason aspirations and visions of a Super Bowl. It all starts in Dallas tonight, the first step of what may turn out to be 19 or 20 of them on the way to a Lombardi Trophy. And while this game is just one fraction of the season, it could set forth the narrative for the rest of the campaign.

“I don’t know what’s going on over there, but I know the Giants are coming with it,” Odell Beckham Jr. said. “Set the tone for the season and really start things off the way we want and get us on the right path.”

Not everyone is investing so much in the outcome. Afterall, the Cowboys lost this game a year ago and wound up winning the division.

So is this not a chance for the Giants to prove they are an elite team? To showcase their revamped offense, display their dominant defense, and most of all stick it to the Cowboys to prove that the NFC East crown is heavy on their heads?

“That’s a little bit too much drama,” Ben McAdoo said. “We play one week at a time. We want to come out of each game with a win and find a way to get a little bit better each time we take the field.”

Said Eli Manning: “You want to go out there and play well, but you can’t win a Super Bowl in the first game.”

No. But make no mistake: That is where the Giants want to go.

Asked if he thinks this year’s team has championship capabilities, Jonathan Casillas said yes.

“I mean, I thought that last year too,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that we’re going to make it at the end of the year. We’ve got to be able to take each game one at a time and a good start is trying to win the division. That’ll be a good start.”

Tonight, the Giants expect it will be.

ROAD WEARY

The Giants open the season in Dallas. To coin a phrase from the golf world, it’s a tradition unlike any other.

This will be the third year in a row that a Giants season begins at AT&T Stadium. It’s the first time that they will open their season on the road against the same team three years in a row since 1949-51 when they faced the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The three years prior to that they opened on the road against the Boston Yankees.

This will also be the first time the Giants will play five straight road openers since they started seven consecutive seasons as visitors from 1962-68.

Back then they played their home games as tenants at Yankee Stadium and had to schedule around the baseball season.

GENO IN THE MIDDLE

Geno Smith will be right in the middle of some of the biggest stories for the Giants this season. Not because of anything he does, but because of where he is.

The backup quarterback’s locker is situated in the tight area between those of Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. While it’s certainly a good spot for talking strategy and going over details with his teammates, when reports gather en masse around those two players, Smith’s real estate suddenly becomes trampled.

“I get the ambush from both sides,” the former Jets starter said. “I may have to get some security or put a rope around my area.”

FAST FACT

Eli Manning has thrown 48 touchdown passes against the Cowboys, the most by any opponent in Dallas history.

MAGIC NUMBER

27

Years since the Giants have won four or more straight games against the Cowboys, something they can achieve with a victory tonight. The last time the Giants were that successful against Dallas in the long term was between 1988 and 1990 when they won six straight against them.

ENJOYING THE DEATH STAR

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by AT&T Stadium. It’s a cavernous building with the look-everywhere elements of a carnival. And of course there is that huge video board that runs the length of the field. It’s easy for a first-timer to lose his concentration, both as a spectator and as a player.

Rookie Dalvin Tomlinson, though, may have built up his immunity to the building.

The defensive tackle is projected to start against the Cowboys in what will be his first ever NFL regular-season game, but his fourth game at AT&T Stadium. Tomlinson played there three times with his Alabama college team, including a Cotton Bowl win over Michigan State in the 2015 season.

“I’m comfortable playing in the stadium for the most part,” Tomlinson said. “It won’t faze me as much coming in there like it did in college.”

That first time, for the 2015 opener against Wisconsin, was tough. “The jumbotron up there, it gets your attention pretty quickly,” he said. By the time he and the Crimson Tide beat up on Southern Cal in last year’s opener, he was used to it.

It also helps that Tomlinson has such good memories of the place. He’s 3-0 in AT&T Stadium.

“I’m undefeated there,” he said.

And he’d like to keep it that way.

STAR(SPANGLED)-STRUCK

Most rookies look forward to their first regular-season game. Tight end Evan Engram will be relishing his first regular-season pregame.

The first-round draft pick said this week that he is excited not so much about playing against the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium Sunday night but being on the sideline for the national anthem.

“I can’t even explain it,” he said. “I don’t know what to expect. I know the national anthem will probably be crazy. In that stadium, Sunday Night, first game – it’s going to be wild. I can’t wait.”

Engram said at Ole Miss, where he played his college ball, he and his team remained in the locker room during the anthem. This week, though, when he closed his eyes and visualized what it will be like on Sunday night, he heard the familiar strains of “O say can you see.”

“I can’t wait,” Engram said. “I’m itching.”

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

There is no easing into the season for the Giants.

“It’s the Dallas Cowboys on opening weekend,” defensive tackle Damon Harrison said. “It doesn’t get any better.”

The question is: Can the Giants get better? They’re hoping to in 2017, with postseason aspirations and visions of a Super Bowl. It all starts in Dallas tonight, the first step of what may turn out to be 19 or 20 of them on the way to a Lombardi Trophy. And while this game is just one fraction of the season, it could set forth the narrative for the rest of the campaign.

“I don’t know what’s going on over there, but I know the Giants are coming with it,” Odell Beckham Jr. said. “Set the tone for the season and really start things off the way we want and get us on the right path.”

Not everyone is investing so much in the outcome. Afterall, the Cowboys lost this game a year ago and wound up winning the division.

So is this not a chance for the Giants to prove they are an elite team? To showcase their revamped offense, display their dominant defense, and most of all stick it to the Cowboys to prove that the NFC East crown is heavy on their heads?

“That’s a little bit too much drama,” Ben McAdoo said. “We play one week at a time. We want to come out of each game with a win and find a way to get a little bit better each time we take the field.”

Said Eli Manning: “You want to go out there and play well, but you can’t win a Super Bowl in the first game.”

No. But make no mistake: That is where the Giants want to go.

Asked if he thinks this year’s team has championship capabilities, Jonathan Casillas said yes.

“I mean, I thought that last year too,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that we’re going to make it at the end of the year. We’ve got to be able to take each game one at a time and a good start is trying to win the division. That’ll be a good start.”

Tonight, the Giants expect it will be.

ROAD WEARY

The Giants open the season in Dallas. To coin a phrase from the golf world, it’s a tradition unlike any other.

This will be the third year in a row that a Giants season begins at AT&T Stadium. It’s the first time that they will open their season on the road against the same team three years in a row since 1949-51 when they faced the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The three years prior to that they opened on the road against the Boston Yankees.

This will also be the first time the Giants will play five straight road openers since they started seven consecutive seasons as visitors from 1962-68.

Back then they played their home games as tenants at Yankee Stadium and had to schedule around the baseball season.

GENO IN THE MIDDLE

Geno Smith will be right in the middle of some of the biggest stories for the Giants this season. Not because of anything he does, but because of where he is.

The backup quarterback’s locker is situated in the tight area between those of Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. While it’s certainly a good spot for talking strategy and going over details with his teammates, when reports gather en masse around those two players, Smith’s real estate suddenly becomes trampled.

“I get the ambush from both sides,” the former Jets starter said. “I may have to get some security or put a rope around my area.”

FAST FACT

Eli Manning has thrown 48 touchdown passes against the Cowboys, the most by any opponent in Dallas history.

MAGIC NUMBER

27

Years since the Giants have won four or more straight games against the Cowboys, something they can achieve with a victory tonight. The last time the Giants were that successful against Dallas in the long term was between 1988 and 1990 when they won six straight against them.

ENJOYING THE DEATH STAR

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by AT&T Stadium. It’s a cavernous building with the look-everywhere elements of a carnival. And of course there is that huge video board that runs the length of the field. It’s easy for a first-timer to lose his concentration, both as a spectator and as a player.

Rookie Dalvin Tomlinson, though, may have built up his immunity to the building.

The defensive tackle is projected to start against the Cowboys in what will be his first ever NFL regular-season game, but his fourth game at AT&T Stadium. Tomlinson played there three times with his Alabama college team, including a Cotton Bowl win over Michigan State in the 2015 season.

“I’m comfortable playing in the stadium for the most part,” Tomlinson said. “It won’t faze me as much coming in there like it did in college.”

That first time, for the 2015 opener against Wisconsin, was tough. “The jumbotron up there, it gets your attention pretty quickly,” he said. By the time he and the Crimson Tide beat up on Southern Cal in last year’s opener, he was used to it.

It also helps that Tomlinson has such good memories of the place. He’s 3-0 in AT&T Stadium.

“I’m undefeated there,” he said.

And he’d like to keep it that way.

New York Sports