1. Can the Giants’ depleted defense slow down Washington’s versatile offense?
Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman has been the butt of many jokes throughout his spotty career, but all kidding aside this is the first time in his career where he has an offensive mastermind — head coach Mike Shanahan — leading him and a plethora of weapons at his disposal. Grossman has the likes of wideout Santana Moss, tight ends Fred Davis and Chris Cooley and a rejuvenated running back in Tim Hightower that can give any defense fits – let alone a Giants unit that has been ravaged by injury before the season even began. Defensive end Justin Tuck has been ruled questionable with a neck stinger and they lost starting middle linebacker Jon Goff’s to a season-ending ACL injury earlier this week. How the defense responds to such adversity will play a decisive factor in a win or loss.
2. Can Eli Manning find another receiving outlet not named Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham?
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Since the defections of slot receiver Steve Smith and tight end Kevin Boss, the Giants have been looking for able replacements. At kickoff there will still be major question marks for Big Blue, as no receiver or tight end has looked the part of a reliable third option. Manning, who threw a league-high 25 interceptions last season, may be forcing balls into coverage again this Sunday because he doesn’t seem to trust his supporting cast yet. Manning, who didn’t throw a touchdown in the preseason, said he and the other non-descript wideouts are still working on their chemistry.
3. Will the Giants’ new offensive line hold up?
The Redskins’ attacking defense will surely test the new-look Giants’ offensive line. Stalwarts Rich Seubert and Shaun O’Hara have been replaced and almost four consecutive seasons of having the same starting five on the offensive line went with them. While Big Blue’s O-Line has looked solid this preseason, they’ll be tested mightily by the Redskins’ vaunted pass rush, led by Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.