Eli Manning's role as franchise quarterback of the New York Giants and a calming voice of reason is getting an early test.
With alarms sounding everywhere within earshot of the Giants with a warning that the season is in jeopardy after a bad performance by the offense in the opening-game loss at Dallas, Manning is adding some perspective to the hysteria.
Bad game, yes. There is no other way to explain how the Giants couldn't protect the quarterback or run the ball in a 19-3 loss to the Cowboys.
View photos of the starters for the New York Giants.
But as Manning said in an interview with the local media this week as the Giants began preparing for Monday night's game with the Detroit Lions, it was just one game. There is plenty of time for the Giants to sort out their problems and make the playoffs for the second straight year. They got in as a wild card last season with an 11-5 record.
"First game," he said in a transcript provided by the Giants media department. "Guys were playing fast. Got some good guys out there, some new bodies. We'll bounce back. We'll be fine.
"We just have to slow down -- everybody take a breath and just run the plays the way we've been running them all spring and all summer."
Help in running those plays could be on the way. Star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who missed the opener with an ankle injury sustained in the preseason, took part in practice Thursday.
Here's how the Giants look after one game – with a struggling offense, a defense with talent on all three levels, and what Beckham means to the Giants:
Offense: The struggle to score points continues.
From Game 12 of last year through this season's opener, the Giants have scored fewer than 20 points in seven straight games. That includes the playoff loss to the Packers.
The Giants managed just 13 first downs, 35 yards rushing and 233 total yards in Game 1. They crossed midfield only twice. They reached the Cowboys' seven-yard line in the third quarter before settling for a field goal, and got to the 35 on the last possession of the game.
Possession time was soundly in favor of the Cowboys – 71 plays run to 53, and a possession time of 34:14 to 25:46. The Giants completed only four of 12 on third down.
Beckham: He returned to practice Thursday on what head coach Ben McAdoo said was a limited basis.
McAdoo did not declare Beckham healthy enough to play, but left no doubt about the stature of the three-time Pro Bowler.
"One of the best players in the league," McAdoo said. "It's a medical decision. As soon as he's cleared, we'll welcome him back. If he's not, we'll be forced to play without him.
"He's a dynamic player. He draws a lot of coverage. He frees up some other players in the offense and makes it easier to run the ball, just because of all the coverage he does draw."
Defense: The Giants do not have a real weakness. They were third against the run last year, tied for fourth in interceptions with 17, 14th in sacks with 35 and second overall with a combined passer rating against them of 75.8.
Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon lead the pass rush off the edge, with two Pro Bowlers in the seconday -- cornerback Janoris Jenkins and strong safety Landon Collins.
Stafford is impressed with how the Giants have built their defense.
"They've got a ton of talent," said Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. "You look around, they've got two extremely good edge rushers. A really good – if not the best – interior presence guy in the league (Damon Harrison Sr.), an All Pro safety and two, maybe three, All-Pro corners (including Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple)."