The second preseason game should be a little more telling than the first for the New York Giants. This time their best players, quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., actually will play a little bit on Monday night against the Cleveland Browns.
Manning and Beckham (along with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) were held out of the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are expected to play the first quarter, and possibly more, against the Browns.
Their goal should be to remain healthy and knock off the rust. Whether Beckham catches a pass or scores a touchdown is irrelevant. Whether Manning completes every pass or throws three interceptions won't make or break his season.
Others are playing for much more -- their livelihood. They're among the primary focuses of preseason game No. 2. That and the progress of Ereck Flowers.
Here are some things to watch Monday night:
Ereck Flowers vs. Myles Garrett
The Giants raved about Flowers' performance against the Steelers, but it hasn't matched what he's done on the practice field where he's struggled. It's to the point where there is enough evidence from three weeks of training camp to question whether the left tackle has made significant strides.
Monday will provide a stiff test with Flowers matched up against Garrett -- the No. 1 overall pick, a premium athlete and good-looking pass-rusher. It's a one-on-one battle that will surely be highlighted. Even the Giants will be watching closely.
"Yeah, I'm excited," coach Ben McAdoo said. "We have good competition going at the offensive tackle spot, and Cleveland has some good rushers. So I'm excited to get out there on a big stage for a preseason game and see how we perform."
If Flowers can't hang with Garrett, it will be time to sound the alarm. The Giants don't have many other viable options to be their starting left tackle.
The veteran wide receiver and rookie tight end will be working with Manning in a game setting for the first time. Terrell Owens scored an 81-yard touchdown on his first play in his first game with the Philadelphia Eagles. It threw Eagles fans into a frenzy. If Marshall or Engram do anything significant, the optimism from Giants fans will rise through the roof.
The Giants have several options at defensive tackle vying for the only open starting spot on defense. Jay Bromley is the current leader, rookie Dalvin Tomlinson is making his push and Robert Thomas is trying to re-enter the mix after missing some time with injury. This will be a telling test for all three against a quality Cleveland offensive line.
The Giants also have a glut of defensive ends and linemen trying to make the roster. Players such as Kerry Wynn, Devin Taylor, Owa Odighizuwa and Jordan Williams need to continue to perform well in the preseason to feel more secure about their standing.
Johnson received the first crack last week playing behind the starting offensive line. This week Smith will likely be the first into the game early in the second quarter.
Neither quarterback has blown away the competition this summer. Smith looked the better of the two in the preseason opener until he threw a pair of interceptions (although one was negated by a penalty). He then had ball-protection problems in practice last week, which led to McAdoo sending him and rookie running back Wayne Gallman for some laps. That's something that was never seen before at a McAdoo practice. It's not a positive for Smith.
Johnson struggled in the preseason opener but wasn't helped by the mistakes and miscues of Roger Lewis, who cost him a pair of touchdowns. Johnson will need to play much better against the Browns, even if it's against third-stringers.
This is something that will be watched closely every week considering their struggles last season (29th in the NFL) and in the preseason opener. The Giants' offensive line, particularly the interior, needs to do better than it did against the Steelers in the running game.
Second-year running back Paul Perkins also needs to show more. He was criticized publicly by the coaches for not gaining extra yards when matched against the safety on a 7-yard run to start the contest. It has been an unspectacular summer so far for Perkins. This will be an opportunity to show he's a capable starting running back, and for the line to prove it can more consistently open holes than it has.