Giants inside linebacker Dan Connor, right, and guard Chris DeGeare...

Giants inside linebacker Dan Connor, right, and guard Chris DeGeare participate in training camp drills in East Rutherford, N.J. (July 28, 2013) Credit: AP

Dan Connor has experienced only one year of Giants-Cowboys, but it was enough to make an impression.

"It's as close as the NFL gets to a college rivalry," said Connor, who played in Dallas last season and returns there Sunday as the Giants' starting middle linebacker. "The excitement's there, not only with the crowd and the fans but the teams. I don't know what causes it or how it is, but that's how it goes."

Connor said he remembers preparing for the opener last year, a game the Cowboys won at MetLife Stadium against the defending Super Bowl champs, and he was surprised by how much emphasis was put on that game.

"Down in Dallas, it was all we talked about during training camp, it was our focus in the offseason, that opener up here," Connor said.

Connor said having been part of that kind of intensity last year will help him prepare in this game.

"I've been on the other side last year," he said, "so I know what to expect."

Giant steps

As expected, WR Victor Cruz (heel), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (back) and FB Henry Hynoski (knee) were on the team flight to Dallas Saturday. DE Damontre Moore (shoulder) also made the flight. Only three Giants did not make the trip: C David Baas (knee), G David Diehl (thumb) and TE Adrien Robinson (foot), who were ruled out Friday . . . Tom Coughlin said he has confidence in new kicker Josh Brown even though he's performed for him only in the preseason. "I know it's summer, but he was put in pressure situations on at least two occasions and came through," Coughlin said. "And he's been there before. He kicked a key field goal in a playoff game last year [for the Bengals]."

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