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Jets-Giants: A Rumble or a Fun Day?

Posted Aug 29, 2011

This year's annual Jets-Giants preseason game has had its share of meteorological developments.

On Tuesday the teams announced that this game would be the first ever played in their two-year-old ballyard under its brand new name, MetLife Stadium. The announcement was punctuated by an East Coast earthquake.

On Monday night at 7 p.m., the Green & White will meet Big Blue for the 43rd consecutive summer. The twice-postponed kickoff has been made necessary by the early Sunday arrival of Hurricane Irene.

There also could be tremors on the field, but Plaxico Burress declined to buy into this week's "special meaning" line of questioning about meeting his former team.

"No, I just want to go out and sharpen up my game a little, clean up my routes, not make too many mental errors and just try to play a well-rounded game," Burress said. "Just go out and try to get myself into football shape."

A backdoor question about the intensity of this rivalry, regardless of the gun charges that ended his tenure with the Giants and with the game he loves from late in 2008 until this summer, was similarly deflected.

"There isn't any added incentive or juice or whatever you may call it. It’s a preseason game," he said. "I have a lot of work to do personally as far as me getting better and contributing to this football team. I’m more concerned about me going out, just playing better and getting better as a player. It’s a preseason game. I know I have a lot of personal relationships with those guys, but we’re just going to go out and have fun.

Not even Burress' new wideout teammate, Santonio Holmes, would buy into the Burress revenge angle.

"We haven't even talked about it at all," Tone said of Plax vs. the Giants. "We're pretty much focused on learning the playbook, making sure these guys are on the right page with Sanchez and we can get our job done and not worry about anybody else."

Of course, there are skeptics who believe there's always a little extra juice between these seemingly eternal stadium co-tenants. Partly it's because the third preseason game would be important no matter the preseason opponent, since the starters don't play much if at all in Game 4. And then partly it could be because head coach Rex Ryan says the Jets are now the big brothers in their New York market relationship with the Giants, and Giants DE Justin Tuck says this stadium will always be the Giants' stadium first and foremost.

But as Ryan also reminded, the edge may be off this game, regardless of the exchange of insults, because for only the 12th time in their histories, the Jets and Giants will also play in the regular season, on Dec. 24, in fact. This afternoon's game is the Giants' home game, but the December game is in "the home of the Jets."

Who's really in control of this still infrequent rivalry? "I guess we get to find out on Christmas Eve," Rex said.

As for this game, it's really a good chance for the Jets to work on some things they need to work on. Their rushing offense, for one thing. The Jets will get Shonn Greene back after a one-game hiatus due to his foot infection, which means LaDainian Tomlinson may be able to stay in his anticipated third-down role.

"I’d like to get our running game going a little bit. I’d like to see them. That’s going to be a good test against their front seven. Up front, that’s a big, strong, physical, athletic line. That’ll be a big test. I think that’ll be good."

And regarding Burress, Holmes and Derrick Mason, it appears that they will all be on the field together, along with QB Mark Sanchez and TE Dustin Keller, for the first time this preseason. Burress was held out of the opener at Houston with his ankle issue, Mason out of Cincinnati with a knee.

The temblors in this game may really be felt when the Jets are on defense and the Giants are running the ball with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Those two and their contrasting styles will be a challenge for the Jets' run defenders, which, for what it's worth, are No. 1 in the NFL in preseason rush defense despite missing LBs Bart Scott and Calvin Pace and DTs Sione Pouha and Marcus Dixon for one or both games each. All are expected to return to action.

One other weather-related issue for Burress could be the howling of the wind from the Giants faithful who are unhappy with how he left the team late in the 2008 season and with him not re-signing with the team when he went on his free agency tour in July. He doesn't know how he'll be received but said he's not worried about it, and in any event he feels he's in a better place.

"Personally, I just think I needed a fresh start," he said. "I just wanted to put myself in a situation to go somewhere fresh and have the opportunity to play for a great organization, a great head coach in Rex and a great team. I feel like I’m in the right place.

"Every day we walk through this door, the object is to win a world championship. I’m happy here. I feel I’m at home. I made the right decision. I’m happy I’m just playing football."

Series Notes

The Jets lead the preseason series, 22-19-1, and they've won six of the last seven summer games when they were the visiting team. The Giants lead the regular-season series, 7-4, including the last four. ... The last seven times the teams have played twice, once in the preseason, once in the RS, they've split the games.

Preseason Live: New York Jets

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