Strahan-less Giants get roughed up by Panthers offense

New York Giants: With or without Michael Strahan,
the Giants defense has a lot of work to do after being
exposed by the Carolina Panthers.

Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith combined for an opening-drive
touchdown pass and receiver Taye Biddle caught touchdown passes of
23 and 85 yards to lead the Panthers to a 24-21 victory on Saturday
night in the matchup of teams looking to rebound from .500 records
in 2006.

For the Giants, the preseason opener was a preview of what life
may be like without Strahan, the seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end
who is holding out of training camp while he decides whether to
play a 15th NFL season.

The performance was ugly to be honest, even taking into
consideration that New York is adjusting to new coordinator Steve
Spagnuolo's aggressive system.

Elsewhere in the NFC:

St. Louis Rams: Coach Scott Linehan got what he wanted
from the preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings -- a victory
and useful game film.

What caught his eye was the performance of his top three draft

Brian Leonard rushed for a touchdown, Adam Carriker helped stop
Minnesota up the middle, and the Rams beat the Vikings 13-10 Friday
night in Minneapolis. Jonathan Wade contributed some tackles in the

"The top three were highlights for me personally," Linehan
said Saturday. "Adam did a tremendous job in his game playing
live. He really held his own. Brian brings a lot of versatility to
the table. He can be a heck of a player for us. Jonathan Wade is
the guy who really showed up. On the first play of the game on the
kickoff team, he made a really sure tackle."

Carriker, the first-round draft pick and new nose tackle from
Nebraska, helped anchor a strong interior effort against Vikings
rookie running back Adrian Peterson, who carried 11 times for 33

Leonard, the second-round choice, scored the Rams' only

Wade, the third-round selection from Tennessee, took a knee to
the neck that shook him up. He did return to play. He will undergo
an evaluation Sunday and, if cleared, will return to practice.

Dallas Cowboys: Isaiah Stanback's conversion from college
quarterback to NFL receiver finally moved into gear with
the rookie making his practice-field debut with the Cowboys.

Stanback is an intriguing enough athlete that the Cowboys used a
fourth-round pick on him. They did so knowing he was coming off
foot surgery, then had to wait longer when he developed shin

Stanback was a receiver his first season in college, then took
over at quarterback and befuddled defenses with his arm and feet.
He ran track, too, and was even drafted by the Baltimore Orioles
last summer even though he didn't play baseball in college.

He'll likely get a chance to return punts and to be part of some
kick-coverage squads. He eventually may take some snaps at
quarterback, too, either to be an emergency substitute or for some

"Whatever they tell me to do, I'll be out there doing it,"
Stanback said, smiling.

Meanwhile, Rookie LT Doug Free sprained a ligament in his right
knee during the Indianapolis game Thursday night and will be out
two to four weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.