"I think we do have a chip on our shoulders," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "You read the papers. We have no chance, even in the NFC. It really doesn't matter what people say. As long as these 53 guys that we are taking into every game believe in ourselves and we go out there and play Giants football, we will be fine."
The Giants are facing big changes this season. Seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan retired after getting a ring in his 15th season, opening a starting job for Tuck. Four-time Pro Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey was traded to New Orleans after failing to resolve a feud with the organization, while linebacker Kawika Mitchell and safety Gibril Wilson, both starters last season, left for big free-agent contracts.
With the addition of cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, Dallas has been picked not only to repeat in the division, but also advance to the Super Bowl.
"Nobody picked us last year to do anything," offensive tackle David Diehl said. "What's the difference this year? We just have to go out and do what we do, play our type of football and play good football. Let them say what they want to say. The only thing that matters is that we come here, we come prepared to work and become prepared to be a better football team."
Running back Brandon Jacobs has his own motivation this season. This is a walk year for the bruising fourth-year back. He gained 1,009 rushing last season despite being limited to 11 regular-season games by a knee and hamstring injury.
Jacobs wants to prove he can stay healthy and he believes he can lead the league in rushing if he does. If it happens, he will get a big contract. He does not plan to negotiate with the Giants now that camp has opened.
"People thought that we couldn't win nothing last year," Jacobs said. "We can't do this, we can't do that right, we can't get out of our own way, stuff like that. It's all right, 'cause we got the ring from last year, when they were all talking the smack. It's a new year. We got 16 first games to prove ourselves."
"I tell myself that the last year doesn't matter and that I'm going to learn from my experience, to try to become a better quarterback," he said. "This year is the same way, I'm going to learn from my experiences from last year but, you've still got something to prove. You need to figure out how you can become a better player, and that's what I am doing."
Center Shaun O'Hara downplayed the chip on the shoulder attitude.
Winning the Super Bowl is his motivation. He recalled going to Miami in 2007 for the title game between Indianapolis and Chicago.
While down there he saw Manning and the two discussed the excitement surrounding the game, and told each other they needed to play in a Super Bowl.
The following year they did, and Manning won the MVP.
"When you realize how great it is and how much excitement there is, it is really the only way to end the season," O'Hara said. "I think that provides the extra drive."