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Giants vs. Jets lacks sizzle of past preseasons

Eli Manning stretches before the game against the

Eli Manning stretches before the game against the Jets. (August 18, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

It wasn't long ago that this was a big deal.

Now, though, you'd be hard-pressed to realize that it's time for the annual preseason meeting between the Giants and the Jets on Saturday night. There have been no verbal grenades tossed between the camps, no boasts, brags or barbs. Just two teams going about their business -- teams that happen to share a city and a stadium and the hosting honors for the next Super Bowl.

"I'm actually glad it's all about football, as it seems to be right now," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "For me, all the talking takes away from the real plot. We're two teams that didn't make the playoffs last year and are trying to right the ship regardless of what's at stake as far as the rivalry."

That wasn't the case in recent years, when the talk was all about who owned the town, who was who's little brother and, for one Christmas Eve in 2011, who would go on to the postseason. For the first time since Rex Ryan arrived with the Jets in 2009, there seems to be very little on the table. Other than the obvious.

"It's always a big game," Eli Manning said. "Most times, it's the third preseason game. The starters are going to play a bunch. It's an important game for us to go out there and try to play well, and we'll try to do that against a good team."

Tom Coughlin, perhaps most predictably, said the importance of this game has little to do with the opponent.

"It will be a very good test for us and we need to look at this with the idea of improvement and the continual analysis of personnel and trying to attack some of the areas that we haven't been good," he said. "We've got a lot of things to improve on."

The Giants are aware that the game might have more to do with the immediate future of the Jets, who are auditioning rookie Geno Smith against them. Tuck laughed at the idea that the Giants might have a large say about the identity of the Jets' Week 1 quarterback.

"Maybe I'll get a call from Sanchez," he joked.

Tuck said the Giants have to be ready to see anything from the Jets. "We handled them pretty good last year and they're obviously going to come back and return the favor," he said.

Ah, so there is a little spark. The players do keep tallies of who won the yearly preseason meeting. It does matter.

Well . . .

"The only reason I know is because I watched tape," Tuck said of last year's 26-3 win over the Jets in Week 2 of the preseason. "If you asked me two weeks ago, I probably wouldn't have remembered."

Notes & quotes: The Giants issued a list of 11 players not expected to face the Jets, including Victor Cruz (heel), Corey Webster (knee, groin) and Antrel Rolle (ankle) . . . With Cruz sidelined, WR Jerrel Jernigan is expected to be the primary slot receiver. "We've done some work, but game time is the best thing you can get for a receiver who you have limited playing time with," Manning said of Jernigan. "You have to get him in live action, see what he can do and get open and make some plays for us." . . . General manager Jerry Reese told ESPN Radio that David Wilson will be the starting running back for the Giants this season. Wilson had been listed as a co-starter with Andre Brown on the unofficial depth chart, and both players have taken reps with the first team throughout the preseason.

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