Giants wide receivers Hakeem Nicks, left, and Victor Cruz take...

Giants wide receivers Hakeem Nicks, left, and Victor Cruz take a brief break in between drills during team training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. (Aug. 8, 2013) Credit: James Escher


That's how many plays in which Eli Manning had all of his weapons and protection available to him in a game situation this preseason. The first three snaps of the second preseason game against the Colts were the only times when the offense was complete.

Before that, they were without Hakeem Nicks and Chris Snee. After that third snap, they were without David Baas and Victor Cruz. And they spent the entire preseason without fullback Henry Hynoski.

The Giants' hope now is that they can reassemble as many of their offensive pieces as possible in time for Sunday's opener against the Cowboys. And if they can, they're banking that the whole of those parts will be greater than their sum.

On Monday the Giants will begin their preparation for the trip to Dallas, and there is a chance that the entire orchestra will be assembled for the brief holiday workout.

"You know you'd love to stand up on a band box and say, 'All right, anybody who makes this team has got to practice. We need to practice,' " coach Tom Coughlin said. "But you know what? It just sometimes doesn't work that way. Then you're scrambling.

"It's very difficult to put together the kind of week that you need to have when you are at 53 and eight [practice-squad players], and out of the 53, there's three or four of them that can't practice. That becomes rather difficult."

That's why the day Coughlin is focusing on is Wednesday. That's when Cowboys Week will start in earnest.

"If we can get Wednesday, Thursday, Friday in, a solid week of normal preparation, I think we'll be OK," he said.

Manning said he doesn't think it will take more than that to reacquaint himself with Cruz, the most likely of the offensive starters to be ready for the opener (even though he has yet to be cleared by the team doctors).

"He's a guy that knows the offense very well," Manning said. "It's easy to read his body language, he's going to make good decisions, so hopefully we'll have him this week for practice and as we game- plan for Dallas. It won't take any time, timing-wise, to get back on the same page."

Baas, meanwhile, held out hope last week that he can return. He will be right on the early edge of the three-to-six- week time frame that usually accompanies an MCL sprain.

The Giants saw good things from their three big offensive weapons this preseason. Manning threw two touchdown passes -- one each to Cruz and Nicks without the other on the field -- and running back David Wilson uncorked an 84-yard touchdown run against the Jets.

If they can get all three on the field Monday -- and possibly add Baas to the mix before Sunday -- the Giants could be celebrating before the season even starts.

"We're talented," Snee said. "I mean, we have a lot of playmakers and we haven't been out there together. We feel that we're much better than what we've put up [in the preseason] . . . It will be nice to have all of our guys out there and then we'll see what kind of group we have."

Notes & quotes: LB Kyle Bosworth, waived by the Giants on Saturday, was claimed by the Cowboys on Sunday and will have a chance to face the Giants in the opener. The Plano, Texas, native said on Twitter that it has been a lifelong dream to play for the Cowboys . . . The Giants signed seven players to their practice squad: DEs Adewale Ojomo and Matt Broha, OL Stephen Goodin and Eric Herman, WRs Marcus Harris and Julian Talley, and CB Charles James. All seven were with the Giants this summer. The Giants have one more vacancy on the practice squad.

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