Giants fired up to face Jets on Monday

Updated: August 13, 2010, 9:19 PM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York Giants linebacker Keith Bulluck grew up just north of New York City, in Rockland County. From his childhood vantage point, just up the Palisades Parkway from the old Giants Stadium, he knows exactly why the Monday night preseason game between the Giants and the New York Jets is more emotionally charged than other matchups.

"It's always been Giants Stadium, the Jets were always second fiddle to the Giants," Bulluck said. "Some of my friends were Jets fans but they were never happy coming into school Monday morning after the Jets had taken some of those beatings. I'm a Mets fan and I understand the Yankees are New York's baseball team, just like Jets fans should understand the Giants are New York's football team."

Giants general manager Jerry Reese said he didn't watch the first episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks," which featured the bold statements of Jets coach Rex Ryan as he was sneaking candy and besting his own general manager, Mike Tannenbaum, in a skills competition.

Reese said he doubted the Giants would ever be the subject of "Hard Knocks," and went on to downplay a preseason game that will receive more than its share of hype.

"Jets-Giants it's always a little bit of a bragging rights, but it's still a preseason game," Reese said. "It's not like it's a regular-season game. You'll see our guys play hard. But it'll be played just like the rest of the early preseason games."

Giants coach Tom Coughlin even joked when asked about "Hard Knocks," saying, "I don't know that show."

Management may be putting that line out there, but the players are being a little more candid. Giants rookie Victor Cruz must not have gotten the memo on being dismissive about it all. The wide receiver, originally from Paterson, N.J., talked a little smack with a smile on his face when asked about the game.

"Definitely it's always a rivalry," Cruz said. "You always want to beat them, you actually always want to beat the crap out of them. But it's OK because they use our field and they use our stadium but we always want to come out the victor in that game."

Cruz may have been intentionally tweaking the Jets, who will technically share equal billing in the new Meadowlands stadium, although for Monday's game the Jets are considered the home team.

Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas admitted that he watched "Hard Knocks," but said there are advantages to playing for a coach who isn't out to stir the pot.

"It's discipline, it's humbling, the good things are you can't write a check when you talk like that," Thomas said. "You've got to go out and play. Everyone is a professional. We play in the NFL, everyone you play against is good so you can't say, 'We're going to win, blah, blah,' because you never know."

Both Ryan and Coughlin said they aren't scheming for each other, that they will use the game to evaluate personnel, as teams traditionally do this time of year. But there is definitely going to be an undercurrent to the proceedings, even if the score doesn't go in the regular-season record books.

Jane McManus is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow her on Twitter.

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Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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