- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's a basic tenet of pro sports: If you win a championship, you'll play the next season with a bull's-eye on your back.
And it's no different for the Giants, according to Mathias Kiwanuka.
Kiwanuka says the defending champs are well aware they'll be a target for opponents all season long.
"You feel it, you sense it, you hear it," Kiwanuka said on Monday. "People talk about it when you're out there on the field. We've been in [the opposite] situation, too.
"You want to measure yourself up against the best, and so it doesn't matter where you're at in terms of wins and losses. ... If you get a chance at the defending champion, you're going to give it your best shot."
The Giants open the season against Dallas on Wednesday; what follows is one of the toughest schedules in the NFL.
So how do you prepare for getting a team's best effort week in and week out, particularly when you're playing against a slate full of quality opponents?
"Just be prepared for it. Just know that we can't have any lapses at all during the season because we know it's going to come down to the smallest details," Kiwanuka said.
MURRAY MAY MAKE LIFE DIFFICULT FOR GIANTS: Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the first quarter of the Giants' Week 15 win over Dallas last season. At the time of the injury, it seemed like Murray was poised for a big game against New York. He had 25 yards on five carries in the game's first seven minutes.
The injury also ended what had been a productive season for Murray. In Week 7 against St. Louis, the rookie from Oklahoma set a franchise record with 253 rushing yards.
Murray will be healthy for the Cowboys' opener against the Giants on Wednesday. And Kiwanuka thinks a healthy Murray can make life a little more difficult for New York.
"Any offense would change when you have a guy running the ball," he said. "Having Romo and adding that kind of complement to [the backfield], it makes defenses account for both run and pass at the same time, which is a little more difficult."