NFC East: New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Coaching is about people, and the New York Giants' Tom Coughlin knows this. More important than any system or scheme or play sheet is the ability of a coach to know his team and his players. Without that, he cannot know how to manage them.

When you add as many new players to a team as the Giants did this offseason, a coach like Coughlin knows his task is to get to know the group as soon as possible -- and as well as possible -- so he knows which buttons to push in which situations. Coughlin is clearly feeling more comfortable with his group now, and the way he managed it this past week following an 0-2 start was proof.

"This is just a prime example of him being able to adjust to the team that he has," veteran defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said after Sunday's 30-17 victory against the Houston Texans. "He's constantly making adjustments to try and get his team motivated, and this group responded."

[+] EnlargeRashad Jennings
Al Bello/Getty ImagesRashad Jennings ran for a career-high 176 yards and a touchdown as the Giants responded positively to coach Tom Coughlin's upbeat demeanor during the week.
What Coughlin decided to do this week was lighten the mood. Rather than hammer his players over everything they'd done wrong in the first two games, he wanted to get them to relax. So he played rap music at practice and closed one of the practices with a punt-catching competition between the offensive and defensive linemen.

"The coaches and everybody didn't get too uptight being 0-2," quarterback Eli Manning said. "We knew it was a big game, but I think with coach keeping his cool, bringing some excitement to practice with the music and the punt-off and those things, it helped the players relax. It said to us, 'We know what to do, let's just go play football. Don't worry about being perfect or doing everything exact. Play the game you love and go play fast.'"

They did play fast, especially on offense when the no-huddle was clicking and running back Rashad Jennings was fighting for extra yards. They definitely seemed able to keep their cool, and that may have been the result of the frame of mind their coach put them in for the game.

"We had some fun times on Thursday, we had the music going, we had a little punt-catch contest -- I caught mine, of course," right tackle Justin Pugh said. "It’s something where we’re having fun -- I think last year at 0-6, we were like, 'How are we gonna get out of this?' We expected to come in and win today.”

Coughlin said after the game that the focus during the day was on "staying positive the whole day, including me," and that the mood on the sideline stayed upbeat even amid the early-game mistakes that were all-too reminiscent of last week's loss. The mood Coughlin helped set in practice leading up to this game carried over, and the Giants were able to keep a game from going off the rails and falling to 0-3 for the second year in a row.

It reminds me a bit of that third week of December in 2011, after the Giants fell to 7-7 with a bad loss to Washington and the players were shocked by Coughlin's positive, upbeat, hopeful message in team meetings that week. The Giants would of course win their final two games of the year to clinch the division and go on to win Coughlin's second Super Bowl title. During that run, I remember asking Coughlin how he knew to take that approach in that spot.

"Because I know my team," was his complete answer.

That's coaching. That's Coughlin. That's why, no matter how bad things get around here from a player-personnel standpoint, I believe the Giants will always be a team that plays at least to its potential, if not better, as long as Coughlin is the one coaching them. I still don't expect this team to go to the playoffs, because I don't think it's good enough. But it's not going to fold and start losing to teams it should beat, and the main reason is that its coach won't allow it.
videoEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It wasn't a fun week for New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.

After last Sunday's drop-filled loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Cruz spent the week meeting with coach Tom Coughlin and fielding questions from reporters about why he wasn't catching the ball. By Friday night, Cruz was on Twitter, retweeting fan criticism of his hands, which is never a good look and a clear sign of frustration.

So Cruz's 61-yard catch-and-run in the waning moments of the first quarter was a load off his mind. And his 26-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter -- his first touchdown catch since Week 4 of last season -- was an absolute catharsis. When the game ended and the Giants had secured their first victory of the season, 30-17 against the Houston Texans, the dominant feeling in the locker room was clear.

[+] EnlargeVictor Cruz
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsVictor Cruz had five catches for 107 yards, including a 61-yarder, in the Giants' win against Houston.
"This takes a lot of weight off," Cruz said. "Any guy who was here last year knows what that 0-6 felt like. Nobody wanted to feel like that again."

The Giants are 1-2, which is obviously not where they wanted to be at this point. But it's a whole lot better than 0-3, and they just need to flip the calendar back one year to remind themselves of that. With a short week and a Thursday game in Washington on the upcoming schedule, the Giants needed this game badly.

They needed to play well and in rhythm on offense, and they did. Quarterback Eli Manning was 21-for-28 for 234 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Rashad Jennings had a career-high 176 rushing yards on 34 carries.

They needed to force turnovers on defense, and they did, collecting their first three interceptions of the season and overcoming a slew of terrible early mistakes. They included a goal-line fumble, a bad snap that botched a field goal attempt and a fake punt the Texans converted in the first quarter. Houston quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was not intercepted or sacked in the Texans' first two games, but Prince Amukamara, Antrel Rolle and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie each intercepted him Sunday and the Giants sacked him twice.

They needed to get a lead and hold it. They needed to win the time-of-possession battle. They needed their playmakers to make plays. Cruz obliged.

"This really helps us gain confidence that we're going in the right direction," Cruz said. "This is something to build on."

The Giants needed that more than anything. What we saw Sunday wasn't necessarily some season-turning event. This was clearly a flawed Texans team that was without its best offensive player, running back Arian Foster, and isn't comfortable with Fitzpatrick throwing the ball as a means of scoring points. The Giants remain a flawed team that will struggle with high-level competition, and Sunday didn't change that.

But after the way they played in the preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season, the Giants needed a performance that reminded them they are capable of playing well and winning. Sunday was that game. The offense clicked, especially in its up-tempo, no-huddle incarnation. The line held up against a tough pass rush. The defense pressured Fitzpatrick and made plays on the back end. Damontre Moore blocked a punt.

"Good win for our team. We needed it," Coughlin said. "A lot of guys played well. I'm looking forward to looking at this tape."

And isn't that a good feeling for the Giants to have for a change?

Giants' positive approach rewarded

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Giants' 30-17 victory over Houston:
    Kiwanuka
  • Tom Coughlin said the team talked all week and all day "about being positive, including me," and several players made mention of the coach's effort this past week to keep things light and upbeat in spite of the 0-2 start. He played music during practice and held a punt-catching contest Friday. "That's just a prime example of him being able to adjust to the team that he has," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "He's constantly making adjustments to try and get his team motivated, and this group responded."
  • Right tackle Justin Pugh said the offensive line was sick by the end of the week of hearing questions about how great Houston defensive end J.J. Watt was and how the Giants could stop him. "It's more fun with you guys here asking what we did to stop him," Pugh said.
  • Center J.D. Walton smiled and declined to answer when I asked him what happened with him and Watt after that one play in the second half when they were jawing at each other after the whistle. "Football," Walton said, smiling. I'd never seen him smile before, for what it's worth.

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
3:57
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 30-17 victory over the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium:

What it means: Relief for the Giants, who will not repeat last year's 0-6 start and have two games' worth of evidence that their new offense can work. A run-heavy game plan helped set up the play-action game and neutralize J.J. Watt and the Houston pass rush. Eli Manning was patient and accurate. The offensive line held up well in a tough-test game. The defensive line got pressure on jittery Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Giants made some early mistakes that reminded you of last week's self-inflicted meltdown, but they settled in and overcame them for their first victory of the year.

Stock Watch: Victor Cruz, UP. The veteran wide receiver and newly minted team captain had a rough week hearing about all of last week's drops. He made up for it with his first big game of the year -- and his first touchdown catch and end zone salsa dance since Week 4 of 2013. Cruz had five catches for 107 yards, including a 61-yarder and his 26-yard touchdown catch that started the scoring.

Flipping the field: Entering the game, the Giants were one of only three teams in the league without a takeaway. They got three interceptions in this game and also blocked a punt, delivering them the kind of field-position advantage for which coach Tom Coughlin had spent the week pleading. They made their own mistakes early, including a goal-line fumble, a bad snap on a field goal attempt and a holding penalty on a punt return. But their errors were fewer than those of their opponent, and that's the goal.

Game ball: RB Rashad Jennings. What a performance. Last week's goat after his no-contact fumble killed a potential game-tying drive, Jennings absolutely took over this game, rushing for a career-high 176 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries and playing a crucial role in blitz pickup on passing plays. The Giants signed Jennings to be a do-it-all starting running back, and this game showed he could be just that.

What's next: The Giants turn it around quickly and head to Washington for the Thursday night game this week.

Arian Foster inactive vs.  Giants

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Another week, another potentially huge, injury-related break for the New York Giants.

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster has a hamstring injury and will not play in Sunday's game. Rookie Alfred Blue will start in his place.

This comes one week after Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer was a late scratch against the Giants, though the Giants were unable to take advantage and win that game. Their next opponent is Washington, which is without its own starting quarterback due to injury.

The 0-2 Giants obviously need all of the help they can get. Foster ranks second in the NFL so far this year with 241 rushing yards and leads the league with 55 rushing attempts, so the Texans' offense runs through him. The Giants' run defense is compromised due to the absence of linebackers Jon Beason (foot) and Devon Kennard (hamstring), both of whom are inactive for this game and were ruled out Friday.

Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has yet to throw an interception this year, which is out of character and likely due to the team's ability to rely on the run game and the defense. The Giants have yet to procure a turnover from an opponent this year, so they'll be hoping Foster's absence leads Fitzpatrick to take more chances in the passing game and give them an opportunity.

Jameel McClain replaces Beason as the starter at middle linebacker for the Giants. Mark Herzlich replaces McClain as the starting strongside linebacker.

Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn is active for the first time this year for the Giants after missing the first two games due to injury, which moves rookie Jay Bromley back to the inactive list after he was active last week. Linebacker Dan Fox and wide receiver Julian Talley, who were signed from the practice squad this week due to other injuries, are both active.

This is the full list of Giants inactives, brought to you this week by the letter "B":

Notes: Giants RBs hope to do more

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One of the few bright spots for the New York Giants during the preseason was the team's new combination at running back.

Free agent acquisition Rashad Jennings and fourth-round draft pick Andre Williams looked like a potent one-two punch in the backfield.

But, through two regular-season games, the Giants are ranked 29th out of 32 NFL teams in rushing yards per game -- the same lowly spot they were ranked a year ago.

And their average output, 67 yards, is even significantly lower than last year (83.3).

Yes, it's only been two games -- but the Giants desperately need a stronger running game to be successful this year.

Jennings
"I put the running game on us in the backfield," Jennings said Friday. "The offensive linemen, when they get a body on a body, the running back's gotta dig out hard yards and move the chains. I take responsibility for that."

Jennings has 34 carries for 110 yards, averaging 3.2 yards per carry. He also had a very costly fumble in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Williams has gained just 21 yards on 13 carries (1.6 yards per carry), and coach Tom Coughlin said Thursday that he believes Williams is going through some natural rookie growing pains.

"He missed a couple opportunities the other night and he’s well aware of it," Coughlin said. "He made the error of not believing or not staying with his initial key and kind of getting off and being a little helter skelter and then finding nothing."

Williams, who led the NCAA in rushing yards a year ago at Boston College, doesn't sound like he's lost his swagger, though.

"I think we just have to execute better, play faster, play with more confidence, and just make sure we stick to our fundamentals," Williams said. "I think this week is gonna be a good week for the run game."

The Giants' opponent this week, the Houston Texans, are ranked 18th in rushing defense, allowing 116 yards per game. But they're giving up 5.0 yards per carry -- tied for the worst mark in the league.

If the Giants can't run the ball effectively this week, that's a really bad sign.

Music to our ears: As the Giants were stretching at the start of practice on Friday, loud music was playing, including "Hypnotize" by The Notorious B.I.G.

This is commonplace at Rex Ryan's New York Jets practices, for instance, but not common at all with Tom Coughlin's Giants -- leading to a question about it afterward.

"The players wanted that," Coughlin said. "We’ve done that before; we did it years ago. Just a little bit of noise in the air, like a stadium pregame."

Coughlin added that the topic came up during a meeting with the players' leadership council.

This appears to be another example of Coughlin loosening up a little bit -- but he clearly did not pick the soundtrack.

"What’s an iPod?" Coughlin said. "I see everybody with these things sticking out of their ears all the time. What the heck? What, you need music to run? You can’t exercise without that stuff? What the heck?"
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason was not on the field again Thursday during the portion of practice open to the media.

Beason
Beason, who aggravated a previous foot injury in last Sunday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals, was also absent Wednesday, but coach Tom Coughlin did not rule him out for this coming Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.

Fellow linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring), who did not practice Wednesday, either, did make an appearance on the field Thursday, but was just doing some light work on the side.

The same goes for rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, who is also dealing with a hamstring injury.

Punter Steve Weatherford (ankle) was back in action after sitting out practice Wednesday.

We'll have more later after post-practice interviews with Coughlin and the players.

Texans vs. Giants preview

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
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The Houston Texans are 2-0, just like they were at this time last season when they lost in Week 3 and didn't win again all season en route to the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

The New York Giants are 0-2, just like they were at this time last season when they lost in Week 3 and didn't win until Week 7 en route to a 7-9 season and an offseason overhaul.

Well, someone should win in Week 3 this season because the Texans and Giants play each other at 1 p.m. ET Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Here are ESPN Texans reporter Tania Ganguli and ESPN Giants reporter Dan Graziano with your preview of the game:

Graziano: Tania, what's going on down there? One thing we thought we knew about Ryan Fitzpatrick was that he would throw interceptions. But so far he hasn't. What's been the key for the Texans' offense in terms of taking care of the ball?

Ganguli: I had an inkling this might happen but was already taking so much heat for predicting eight wins for the formerly 2-14 Texans that I opted to wait and see. What we've seen is a quarterback making good decisions and doing exactly what the Texans have asked of him. He's had a lot of time from an offensive line that hasn't given up a sack, and he's had help from receivers who are keen to make life easy on him with their athletic ability and intelligence. He also hasn't faced very opportunistic defenses, which helps.

I had this game penciled in as a loss for the Texans before the season began, but having seen the Giants these first two weeks, I'm not so sure about that anymore. I guess I have the same question for you. What's going on up there? What do you make of this 0-2 start?

Graziano: Seems like more of the same to me, honestly. I think people in this market are starting to recalibrate their expectations of the Giants, and I don't think it will be long before the perception around the league catches up.

They are a rebuilding team in a league and market that don't allow anyone to say that out loud. Last year's team was one of the worst in the league, and its 7-9 record was deceptively good -- built on a run of backup opposing quarterbacks and some December wins against teams that had shut it down. To the Giants' credit, they didn't get fooled, and they went out in the offseason and rebuilt the roster. They signed more free agents than any other team, which isn't the way they like to operate, but they had no choice given all their holes.

The result is a work in progress. The offense was incompetent in the preseason and the opener in Detroit. It showed improvement (and some competence) in Sunday's loss to Arizona, but it's clear it takes a lot for the Giants to score and they lack any true dynamic threats in the offense. They are also weak in pass protection, especially in the middle of the line, where retirements and injuries have left them a bit short.

As I write that, I'm thinking about J.J. Watt (maybe because he's on every other commercial that comes on my TV). Should a Giants offense that's not very exciting and can't protect its quarterback reliably be panicked about that Houston defensive front, even without Jadeveon Clowney?

Ganguli: They could learn something from the way the Raiders played the Texans. Oakland planned well for Watt and kept him without a tackle Sunday, doubling him constantly. Of course, that was a week after he had one of the best games of his career (blocked extra point, fumble recovery, sack, batted pass, two tackles for loss). I would say, yes, they should panic a little. Beyond Watt, a guy to watch is outside linebacker Brooks Reed, who got a game ball after their Week 1 win, along with Watt.

The Giants should be equally concerned about what's been an opportunistic secondary in the first two weeks. Last weekend, the Texans' secondary forced two fumbles and intercepted Raiders quarterback Derek Carr once. Safety D.J. Swearinger has been part of three of the Texans' six forced turnovers. He is a character, and it's been working great for the Texans this year.

I know the Giants made a lot of changes on their defense. Do you see them ending Fitzpatrick's streak of clean games?

Graziano: Well, they're due, I'll tell you that. But it's hard to imagine they're the team to do it. The Giants are one of three teams in the league -- along with Pittsburgh and Kansas City -- that doesn't yet have a takeaway. Combine that with their five giveaways and the 0-2 record doesn't need a lot more explanation. Tom Coughlin and Antrel Rolle talked Monday about the need to force some turnovers and get some free field position. But especially considering they spent so much on the secondary so it would be the strength of their team, the inability of their defensive backs to get interceptions is one of the more puzzling aspects of their slow start.

The Giants gave up 124 rushing yards to the Cardinals on Sunday, which annoyed Coughlin as well. And they haven't been able to run the ball very well themselves. Do you imagine Houston will be able to control the game on the ground with Arian Foster?

Ganguli: Boy, that description of the Giants and turnovers sounds a lot like the Texans last season. They were never able to break out of it, and the 2-14 record reflected that.

Foster and the Texans' offensive line were dominant against the Raiders' run defense last week. Foster had 28 carries for 138 yards and a touchdown. The Texans ran the ball 46 times, a lot of it during garbage time, and threw only 19 passes. Foster already has 55 carries in the Texans' first two games, a number no running back has reached in the first two games of the season since Chester Taylor in 2006. The Texans aren't afraid to work him, and if they're facing another bad run defense, they'll be able to exploit it.

The Texans had growing pains offensively in their season opener, as it was the first time the entire starting unit played together in a game in Bill O'Brien's system. The Giants also learned a new offensive system during the offseason. Can you attribute any of the slow start to the learning curve there, and have you seen signs of improvement?

Graziano: I think that's part of it, and you definitely saw in the "Monday Night Football" opener in Detroit that there were some issues with Eli Manning's footwork and his timing with his receivers. You see a zone run play every now and then where Rashad Jennings doesn't make the right cut. There's some learning still going on.

But I think the main problem, unfortunately for the Giants, is one they can't solve in-season. I don't think they have enough high-quality players at the key positions to run any offense and make it high-scoring. Victor Cruz is their best receiver, and he's a slot guy who's dropping too many balls. The interior of the offensive line is still a patchwork mess. Larry Donnell is catching passes at tight end, but he's still a liability as a blocker, which is hurting the run game. Will Beatty's performance at left tackle is inconsistent from week to week. They're just not very good, and it's hard to imagine that this 14 points per game trend is an aberration -- especially with another tough defense coming to town.

But we'll see. That's why they play the games and all that. Enjoyed the chat, Tania. Travel safe, and I'll see you Sunday.

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Preston Parker gets his chance at WR

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jerrel Jernigan was not a "starting" wide receiver officially. But the New York Giants are in three-wide receiver sets on the vast majority of their offensive plays, and with rookie Odell Beckham Jr. sidelined to start the season, Jernigan was playing a significant role as one of the outside receivers in those three-wide sets.

Parker
Jernigan went on injured reserve Tuesday, which means his season is over. Beckham, who still hasn't practiced with the team since July 22 because of a hamstring injury, isn't ready yet. So the Giants need someone else from their bench to fill that spot opposite Rueben Randle when Victor Cruz goes into the slot. And first up will be Preston Parker.

"He will have that opportunity," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday. "He's been in the league. He's very quick. He's played before. He's got a good attitude about it. He's a tough guy, and hopefully he'll make a strong contribution."

Parker made the team as a bench wide receiver and a punt returner because of injuries to punt-return options Beckham and Trindon Holliday. Parker caught one 29-yard pass in relief of Jernigan in Sunday's loss to the Cardinals. He caught 40 passes for 554 yards and three touchdowns as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011, but he played in only two games in 2012 and was out of football last season.

"It's an opportunity," Parker said. "It's an opportunity for me to take advantage of and try and make something happen. I remember I was at that high, and I went through those lows and now I'm back to that high again. You have to appreciate that."

The other options at wide receiver right now are undrafted rookie Corey Washington, who became a preseason cult hero with his 6-foot-4 frame and the four touchdown passes he caught in the exhibition games, and Julian Talley, who was added from the practice squad Tuesday. Parker gets the first shot at replacing Jernigan because of his experience. Washington has been used sparingly, when the team goes to four-wide sets and occasionally at the goal line.

Beckham again worked on a side field Wednesday. There's almost no chance he plays Sunday against Houston, and because the Giants' next game is only four days later, he's not likely to see the field in Week 4 either.

Giants OL Eric Herman is back, sort of

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants offensive lineman Eric Herman was suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. But due to the revised drug policy announced Wednesday, Herman's suspension has been voided and he is eligible to return to the team effective immediately. Herman got this news via a phone call from Giants assistant GM Kevin Abrams while he was driving to work out Wednesday.

"I made a U-turn and got here as fast as I could," Herman said.

Herman
Thing is, though, the Giants don't have a roster spot for Herman right now and would have to release someone from their 53-man roster in order to put him on it. So he wasn't allowed to practice. (The team said he watched practice in pads.) The Giants have applied to the commissioner's office for a roster exemption which likely would give them a week or two to make the necessary moves to get Herman back on their roster if they decide they want to.

Players whose positives tests occurred during the current league year are subject to the rules of the new policy. One of the rule changes is that positive tests for certain stimulants are treated under the substances of abuse policy if the violation occurs in the offseason (though still as performance-enhancers if the violation occurs in-season). So the guess here is Herman's positive test was for a stimulant and it happened in the offseason. He's been following the developments with regard to the new drug policy since late last week, but as of Wednesday afternoon he hadn't even been told the specifics of why he was reinstated.

"I've got to talk to the players' association and figure out what I fell under, so I can tell you guys," Herman said.

The Giants could release any number of extraneous offensive lineman if they wanted to clear a spot for Herman, a 2013 seventh-round pick who's shown promise as a project guard/center. James Brewer, Charles Brown and Adam Snyder are all candidates to go if they want to keep Herman. If they want to add him to their practice squad, they'll have to waive him first and hope no one else picks him up, then release someone from their practice squad. But if the commissioner's office will give them an extra week or so to decide how exactly to handle it, they'll sure take the time.

Play the New York Giants, win an award

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Arizona Cardinals punt returner Ted Ginn Jr. was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 2. This is no surprise, because Ginn played against the New York Giants.

Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy was the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week in Week 1. He also played the Giants that week.

In fact, since the start of the 2013 season, the Giants have played 18 games. In eight of those, a player on the opposing team delivered a performance that won him a conference Player of the Week award:

2013

Week 1: Dwayne Harris, Cowboys (NFC special teams)

Week 2: Trindon Holliday, Broncos (AFC special teams)

Week 3: Greg Hardy, Panthers (NFC defensive)

Week 4: Dexter McCluster, Chiefs (AFC special teams)

Week 5: DeSean Jackson, Eagles (NFC offensive)

Week 15: Richard Sherman, Seahawks (NFC defensive)

2014

Week 1: DeAndre Levy, Lions (NFC defensive)

Week 2: Ted Ginn Jr., Cardinals (NFC special teams)

If it seems like a lot, that's because it is. Since the start of the 2013 season, no team has had more opposing players win conference Player of the Week awards than the Giants have. Washington is second with seven. Every team in the league has at least two except the Rams, who've only had one, and the Steelers, who somehow haven't had any. Here's the list:

Most opposing players winning conference Player of the Week awards since start of 2013 season

New York Giants: 8
Washington: 7
Tampa Bay: 6
Indianapolis: 6
Green Bay: 5
Oakland: 5
Dallas: 5
Detroit: 5
Tennessee: 5
New Orleans: 5
Philadelphia: 4
Minnesota: 4
Miami: 4
New York Jets: 4
Baltimore: 3
San Francisco: 3
Arizona: 3
Houston: 3
Atlanta: 3
San Diego: 3
Buffalo: 3
Cleveland: 3
Jacksonville: 2
Carolina: 2
Denver: 2
Cincinnati: 2
Kansas City: 2
Seattle: 2
New England: 2
Chicago: 2
St. Louis: 1
Pittsburgh: 0

Giants practice report: Beason out

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Injured New York Giants linebacker Jon Beason was not on the field during the extraordinarily brief portion of practice that was open to the media on Wednesday. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he wouldn't put anything past Beason and wouldn't rule out the possibility that he plays Sunday against the Texans, but that seems unlikely due to the foot injury Beason aggravated in Week 2 against the Cardinals.

The Giants said Tuesday that Beason might see a foot specialist this week, and obviously if he's not here, there's a chance he's doing that. More to come on that, but in the meantime with Beason and rookie Devon Kennard (hamstring) sitting out practice, the way in which the Giants will arrange their linebackers becomes an interesting question.

McClain
When Beason had to miss the preseason and training camp due to the foot injury, Jameel McClain moved over from his strongside linebacker position to the middle, and Kennard played on the strong side. Coughlin indicated in Wednesday morning's news conference that McClain and Mark Herzlich would be used in some combination to fill in for Beason and Kennard, though he did not go into detail. Herzlich has experience in the middle, but his shortcomings there last year were among the reasons the Giants felt a need to go out and trade for Beason.

Spencer Paysinger and Dan Fox are the backup options on the strong side, but neither is an option for the middle linebacker role.

In other injury news, first-round draft pick Odell Beckham Jr. was sprinting on a side field during practice, but Coughlin said there are no plans for Beckham to practice this week. Since the Giants play a Thursday game in Week 4 and he won't have had time to practice much if at all before then, the rookie wide receiver appears set to miss at least the next two games.

Punter Steve Weatherford also did not appear to be practicing Wednesday, though he missed time last week due to a sprained left ankle and still punted on Sunday.

Giants' secondary a mess so far

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Aggressive enough to be called for way too many penalties; not aggressive enough to force any turnovers.

This, through two weeks, is the New York Giants' secondary. A unit that was supposed to be the strength of this team has instead been one of the main culprits for their 0-2 start.

Rolle
 You can't have both of these problems. If you're committing seven penalties on point-of-emphasis, downfield contact plays, five of which hand first downs to the opponent, then that aggressiveness needs to be paying off in the form of takeaways. The Giants are one of three teams in the league -- along with the Chiefs and Steelers -- who have yet to take the ball away from their opponent through the first two weeks of the season.

"The no takeaways is an issue now," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Monday. "This is something that every team counts on in the NFL -- getting an extra field position, bona fide field position from some type of takeaway, whether it be special teams or defense. And we have not had that."

Coughlin lamented a couple of plays from Sunday's game that he believed safety Stevie Brown and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could have turned into interceptions, and he seemed to believe the issues were of technique and/or decision-making.

"You've got to be in the right position. Your eyes have got to be in the right spot. You've got to have a good feel for it," Coughlin said. I thought on a couple of occasions, the quarterback was actually staring the ball down where he was goingm and we still weren't influenced enough to go in that direction and be in position to make a play. We do have athletes. They are good athletes. A couple of years ago, we referred to Stevie Brown as kind of a ballhawking guy in center field when he had that opportunity. He's just not there yet. He's not back yet to where he was a couple of years ago, and let's hope he gets there."

In the meantime, the Giants' defensive backs need to keep their hands to themselves. They weren't called for many of those preseason-type downfield contact penalties in the opening-week loss in Detroit, but they had way too many of them on Sunday. And while fans and even some players and coaches may want to sit around and argue about the validity of the calls being made against defensive backs, they are being made, and defensive players have to adjust better than the Giants have done.

"We need to be smarter," safety Antrel Rolle said. "You can't hold a guy. Illegal contact, things like that are going to take place throughout the course of the game. But there are certain things we saw on film. When you're jamming a guy, and you're holding and you're looking at the quarterback, they're going to call that 100 percent of the time. So we have to be smarter."

It would be one thing if the over-aggressive play were leading to interceptions, but they don't have one yet. And while it's still early, this is a unit that needs to be setting the tone for the rest of the team. It's not going to get any easier with nickel cornerback Walter Thurmond out for the year due to a pectoral muscle injury, but the players who remain are good enough to cut down on the penalties and make some plays. At this point, though, the Giants would take just one of those things.

"Obviously, we're not as good at it as we should be," Coughlin said. "So we've got to sharpen it up."

The Film Don't Lie: Giants

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
4:00
PM ET
A weekly look at what the New York Giants must fix:

The Houston Texans don't throw the ball much, but when they come to MetLife Stadium on Sunday to play the 0-2 Giants, they may be tempted to air it out more than usual. That's because the Giants might help them out if they do.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, there were seven Giants defensive penalties Sunday on 2014 point-of-emphasis plays (illegal contact, holding, illegal use of hands), and those led to five Cardinals first downs.

You can complain until you're Big Blue in the face about the quality of the calls. But the fact is they're being made, both ways, and the Giants' defensive backs need to do a better job of keeping their hands to themselves and not giving out free first downs. Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will see stuff on tape this week that tells him it might be a good idea to take some chances.

W2W4: New York Giants

September, 13, 2014
Sep 13
3:00
PM ET
The New York Giants play the Arizona Cardinals at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Here are three things we'll be watching especially closely as the Giants try to avoid an 0-2 start:

[+] EnlargeMichael Floyd
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesArizona has many potent options in the passing game, none more dangerous than Michael Floyd, who had 119 yards in the opener.
1. How will they cover the Cardinals' receivers? Coverage was a big problem Monday night in Detroit against Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and the Lions, and it's not likely to get much easier this week. The Cardinals love to empty the backfield and load up with multiple-wide-receiver sets. You'll see the Giants in nickel and likely some dime this week, with Trumaine McBride on the field as a fourth cornerback in some situations. The biggest threat right now among the Arizona receivers is Michael Floyd, although rookie John Brown is a speed threat on the outside and veteran Larry Fitzgerald obviously can't be ignored in the slot. The Cardinals also throw to their tight ends and can throw it to running back Andre Ellington out of the backfield if Ellington is healthy. There's going to be a lot to keep track of in the secondary for a Giants team that didn't look to have everything together back there in the opener.

2. Will they get the ball to Victor Cruz? The Giants' best wide receiver said Tuesday that he thinks the offense will work better if he and Rueben Randle see more targets, so it'll be interesting to see whether New York runs plays specifically designed to do that. The Giants threw to Jerrel Jernigan and Larry Donnell a lot Monday because those guys were open, so the question becomes whether Randle and Cruz can get separation from defenders in short range better than they have so far -- and whether Cruz, who dropped two passes Monday, can catch everything they do throw to him. It's an offense that's out of sync, and a lot depends on the ability of the big guys up front to protect quarterback Eli Manning and allow him to get comfortable. But assuming he has enough time back there, it's important to watch to see how his timing with his better receivers looks this week. That's where the improvement has to come.

3. Can they run the ball against Arizona? The Cardinals' defense was the toughest against the run in the entire league last year, and it allowed just 52 rushing yards last week to a San Diego team that wants to establish the run. So it won't be easy, but the Giants still believe the best way to get their offense going is to establish balance and run the ball reliably. Rashad Jennings is the lead back, and if they can get enough run plays into the game (i.e., extend some drives with some first downs), they could work Andre Williams into the mix more as a ball carrier. But they need to find a way to get their bread-and-butter run plays blocked against Arizona's tough front early in the game or they won't be able to operate the rest of the offense the way they want to.

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