…But Rex Ryan sent a loud, profane message to the football world and anyone who would listen on the first episode of Hard Knocks: his Jets are the kings of New York and can beat any team, anywhere, anytime. The Giants would like to send a little message Monday night at 8:00, and take the Jets off their pedestal.

The rookie class of 2010 will get their first reps as Giants tonight; AP Photo

To someone outside of both locker rooms and both fan bases, Monday night’s preseason game between the Giants and Jets is just the season opener for both teams and the first NFL game in the New Giants Stadium Meadowlands. But it runs deeper than that inside both locker rooms. The Giants – just like everybody else – have noticed how much the Jets have been talking and how much attention they have been getting. The G-Men are ready to “send a message” to their cross-town rivals.

“There’s a lot going on right now with the Jets claiming New York and that it’s their town,” said Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas. “We’re not feeding into that. But at the same time we want to send a message to them that it’s still our town. And it’s going to be our stadium.

“You hear it in the back of your mind, but you don’t pay no attention to it,” Thomas continued. “Until they win the Super Bowl, until they start dominating teams – and just don’t do it one year – we’ll consider it. But until then, everybody knows it’s a Giants town.”

Justin Tuck wants his team to ignore the hype surrounding the Jets – and the arrogance coming from them.

“Hopefully we can find a rhythm in the game and not let the atmosphere take over how we play,” Tuck said. “It would be real easy to get into individual battles and say ‘we want the Giants fans there to realize that we still own New York city or that stadium.’ It would be real easy to get into that mode.

“But it ain’t about the supremacy of the Jets and the Giants. That doesn’t matter,” Tuck said. “We could come out of this game and beat them 40-0, but if they go out and win the Super Bowl and we don’t make the playoffs, then who cares?”

The stuff about being the “Kings” of New York is a decent storyline, but that’s it. This game doesn’t matter. Tuck nailed it perfectly. What’s more important in the coming months: that the Jets won a preseason game and got all the headlines, or that we’ve started 5-0 again and this year we will not falter. Think about it. The Jets need to take a page out of the Giants’ 2007 playbook if they’re ever going to be successful: “Talk Is Cheap, Play The Game”

Now, down to brass tacks…

New York Giants (0-0 preseason) vs. New York Jets (0-0 preseason)

The Giants are set to open their brand new, $1.6 billion stadium – except they will be the “away” team and the Jets will be the “home” team, after the infamous secret coin toss that gave the Giants the first regular season game. Forget the trash-talking and the hype. What’s important is this will be the first test to see if all the work Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin have done to re-construct the Giants following last season’s disappointment has begun to pay dividends. We won’t get a complete read, but we’ll be able to see the starters for about a quarter. And we’ve waited almost eight months to see that again.

What To Watch:

The Defense:
The 2009 edition of the Giants defense was the second worst in franchise history, the worst coming in 1966, when the G-Men finished a league-worst 1–12–1 record and allowed over 500 points on defense. The defense was lacking energy, enthusiasm, and passion last season. While the defense has yet to play a meaningful snap, new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has brought all of those things to his job so far in training camp. Seems Big Blue is on its way to having the swagger returning to the Giants defense, and we get our first (quick) look tonight. I’m especially looking forward to seeing if rookies Linval Joseph, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Phillip Dillard can make an impact while they’re in.

The Starters:
Jets’ Coach Rex Ryan is on record saying his starters are going to be extended a bit, and are going to play past the first quarter. Remember what happened to Chad Pennington when he faced Big Blue? He was out for a good portion of the season. It’s good to be confident and have your players buy in to that confidence, but come on. Something season-ending could come out of this, and nobody wants to see that. It’s the preseason for crying out loud. As for the Giants, it’s unknown how long the starters will go. Judging from the past, it’s a safe bet that they probably won’t go for more than two or three series. So about 15 reps or so. I would be shocked to see either first unit play past the first quarter.

Revis Island:
It’ll be very interesting to see how the Jets’ first-team defense does without cornerback Darrelle Revis, who, as everyone knows, is in the middle of a holdout. If the Jets struggle defensively, it will give Team Revis just another chip to negotiate with. I think the Giants and Eli Manning will do well with the passing game against the Jets’ first team and put together some nice drives. Manning probably won’t get a lot of opportunities to throw, with the Giants wanting to revert back to running the football more. When he does, however, look for Eli to be very efficient.

The Giants will be without several key starters and backup players Monday night. Sitting out for the Giants: WR Steve Smith (groin), TE Kevin Boss (ankle), TE Jake Ballard (hamstring), TE Travis Beckum (hamstring), LB Keith Bulluck (knee), S Kenny Phillips (knee), G Chris Snee (knee/leg), G Rich Seubert (hand), WR Tim Brown (groin). Guys who would usually play during the regular season (Seubert, Smith, etc) will smartly sit this one out. It will greatly benefit some of the guys who are fighting to make the roster out of camp. Look for someone to succeed in the moment and shine tonight.

The Running Game:
Tonight might not be a good test of the ground game, with Guy Whimper at one guard instead of Snee, and with Shaun O’Hara and Dave Diehl likely to only play sparingly. But the Giants still need to establish that they can open some holes for the backs to get through, one of the reasons the running game took a leap back last season. Coughlin has really been looking forward to testing his running game against solid run defenses. Welp, he’ll get a pretty good test against the Jets’ solid run defense.

Enjoy the game.