Shane Vereen is used to facing the Jets in emotional, important games. He did it for five years with the Patriots. So this isn't his first taste of the rivalry. It's just the first time he's experiencing it from this angle.
"It's a little different, but not too different from what the magnitude was back in New England," the Giants running back said of the buildup to Saturday night's preseason game between the two teams. "It's a rivalry that I'm just now learning about."
Too bad he missed the fun years when this game actually felt as if it meant something, even in the unimportant context of preseason football. They say it's for bragging rights, but neither team has had much to brag about for a while. The past three postseasons have not included either the Giants or the Jets, the longest such stretch since 1994-96. And the kindling who often created the inferno is gone and coaching Buffalo.
"He brought a little entertainment," Eli Manning said of Rex Ryan. "You know, it seems a little quieter this week in our preparation. Not as much chitchat on both sides probably, but I think he was probably generating a lot of that."
Newcomers to the game have tried to infuse it with significance and increase its importance. Rookie Owa Odighizuwa said he played in annual games between USC and UCLA and figures this will be like that. It won't. Even Vereen's attempt to equate Saturday night's game with anything that took place with Ryan and Bill Belichick on opposing sides seems ridiculous. And he probably knows it, too.
What are we left with? Darrelle Revis' and Odell Beckham Jr.'s comments of mutual respect and admiration. Yuck. Remember 2011, when Revis taunted Victor Cruz by saying he didn't know his name? Remember Brandon Jacobs leaving the field that Christmas Eve jawing with Ryan? Those were the makings of a rivalry. Snoopy-shaped trophies don't exactly inspire ferocity and animosity.
Even cornerback Prince Amukamara, a fifth-year veteran of these meetings, could only halfheartedly describe the fervor between the two sides.
"Jets and Giants can split families," he said before trailing off. "Or so I've heard."
There probably won't be a lot of sleeping on the couch over this game. With any luck, by the time the teams meet in December for their quadrennial regular-season matchup, one or the other (or both?) will be vying for a playoff berth and trying to establish some kind of local supremacy. This week?
"We have our issues, we have people that we are trying to evaluate and they do, too, and I think that's where it is," Tom Coughlin said. "That's where the game is."
Notes & quotes: Coughlin said he expects the starters to play the first half of the game. He joked that he often says he wants them to play into the third quarter. "It doesn't happen much," he said. "I come in at the half, and if we are in pretty good shape, I say, 'That's enough.' " . . . The Giants won't wear the uniform patch that memorializes Ann Mara or the helmet sticker in memory of Frank Gifford until the regular-season opener on Sept. 13.