NFC East: New York Giants

Jason Pierre-Paul believes Giants can run the table after bye week

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
6:14
PM ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The view from the outside is that the New York Giants are basically what their 3-4 record says they are, an inconsistent team that might not be good enough to be a contender.

Jason Pierre-Paul isn't buying it.

He looks at the Giants, and sees a team ready to go on a roll. He looks at the rest of the schedule and sees nothing but victories, despite a string of tough opponents in November.

"I think the bye [week] is good," the Giants defensive end said Monday. "What have we got, nine more games to play? Let's win all the nine games. I think we can do it.

"We've just got to believe."

Pierre-Paul
Pierre-Paul was one of the Giants' top performers in Sunday's 31-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, playing so well that coach Tom Coughlin singled him out in Monday's team meeting. Pierre-Paul was credited with six tackles, including two sacks and three total tackles for loss, but he looked even better than that on the game film.

"He was dominant," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "Just getting in the backfield and blowing things up, against the run, against the pass, you name it."

Pierre-Paul was on the field for all but two of the Giants' 62 defensive plays. His performance was even more impressive because he was lined up against Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith, who was so good the week before that he was the first lineman in 10 years to win the NFL's Offensive Player of the Week award.

"[Pierre-Paul] played hard, and I thought he played well, both run and pass," Coughlin said. "His energy level was high. He had outstanding endurance. If you were going to find someone that gave the kind of effort you were looking for and played well, he would certainly be at the top of the list."

The problem for the Giants was that not enough of them have played well, at least not from week to week. They lost their first two games, won their next three, and now have lost two straight to division opponents. The 27-0 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles was ugly, but Sunday's loss to the Cowboys left a bad taste, too.

"We basically let them win," Pierre-Paul said. "We made mistakes, and it cost us big-time. [But] there's a lot more football in the second half to play. We'll be ready."

The Giants will come back after the bye with a Monday night game against the first-place Indianapolis Colts, followed by Seattle, San Francisco and a rematch with Dallas. But Pierre-Paul isn't concerned.

"I think we're fine," he said. "Tough loss [to the Cowboys], but as far as a team, we know what we can do. It's like we told everyone, do what you want this week, get away from football.

"When we come back, it's time to turn it on."

There are nine games left, and for Pierre-Paul, that can mean nine wins.

He thinks they can do it.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning didn't get to watch his older brother set the NFL's all-time record for touchdown passes Sunday night. Manning and the New York Giants were on a flight back home from Dallas when Peyton Manning whizzed past Brett Favre and into first place all time with 510 touchdown throws. But Eli knew what was going on and was excited to see the highlights when he landed.

"You never play for individual awards and records, but the touchdown record is pretty special," Eli Manning said Monday. "And I think it has a chance to stick around for a long time."

Eli said he sent Peyton a text, but as of 3:30 pm ET on Monday he still hadn't had a chance to speak to him. Peyton Manning and the Broncos are preparing for a quick-turnaround Thursday night game this week, and so the schedule is a bit off.

"I just sent him a text message, told him congratulations and that I'm proud of him," Eli said. "Obviously, I know he was proud to get the win with it."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Most of the New York Giants' players finished up meetings Monday and headed out for a long midseason break. The Giants are on bye next week and don't play again until Nov. 3. So guys who want to shut it down, get out of town for a few days, go fishing, whatever, they all go their separate ways.

Some will have to be around the facility, however, to get treatment for various injuries. And there are a few significant Giants injuries to monitor over the next couple of weeks.

Jennings
Schwartz
There is some hope that the return of running back Rashad Jennings from the knee injury that has cost him the past two games and of guard Geoff Schwartz from the toe injury that has so far delayed his Giants' debut will help get the running game going again. But to hear coach Tom Coughlin tell it, neither of those players is a sure thing to return in Week 9. Due to his short-term injured reserve status, Schwartz wasn't even eligible to practice until last week, and all he's done so far is some light running.

"Schwartz has got a long way to go," Coughlin said.

Coughlin also pointed out Jennings is trying to work his way back from a pretty serious knee injury -- an MCL sprain he suffered in the Week 5 victory over Atlanta. Jennings said his goal is to get back in time for the Week 9 "Monday Night Football" game.

"That's what we're trying to get to," Jennings said. "We've got the bye week and we've got some down time, so I'm just working. Preparing my body so that when it heals I can pick up where I left off."

Jennings said he would do more running this week and then "eventually get into the cuts." Schwartz said the goal for him was to practice on the field with the team next week when they return from the bye week.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants are banged up as well. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins left Sunday's game in Dallas in the first half with a calf strain. An MRI on Monday confirmed the strain and nothing more, but Jenkins was still on crutches and in a walking boot Monday and said it was "probably going to be at least a couple weeks" before he could play again.

Middle linebacker Jon Beason re-aggravated the toe injury that cost him all of training camp and three games earlier this season, and Coughlin said Beason likely would go back to see the same foot specialist he's seen a few times this year. It's possible the Giants will end up having to shut Beason down due to this injury, but Coughlin said that's not in the plans at this point.

And cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie plans to continue to play through the leg and back injuries that have been limiting him. "It's going to be a continuous kind of thing here," Coughlin said, though he's hoping the two weeks of rest will help.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- New York Giants defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins left AT&T Stadium on Sunday night on crutches and with his injured right leg in a walking boot. Jenkins left the Giants' 31-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the first half with a calf injury and will have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of it.

Jenkins
"Felt like somebody hit me with a hammer," Jenkins said. "It was one of those things where you're running and you feel like you got hit, then you realize there was nobody behind you, and you're just like, 'Aww, man.'"

Jenkins' injury would be another tough blow to a Giants' defense that may be more banged-up than the banged-up offense. In addition to Jenkins, middle linebacker Jon Beason left Sunday's game early with a re-aggravation of the toe injury that's been bugging him since June. Beason has missed three games this season after missing all of training camp and can't seem to shake the injury.

"I really wanted to put that behind us, but it cropped up again," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who's been missing practice with leg and back injuries, was active for the game and was in on some early third downs (and on the field-goal-block team for Dan Bailey's late game-clincher), but he's clearly not healthy either. His hope is that next week's bye gives him time to heal and that he can be back to 100 percent in time for the "Monday Night Football" game against the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 3. With nickel cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride out for the year, the Giants' once-deep secondary is leaking oil.

"If I get on the field, I have to feel like I'm myself," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "Can't go out there half-steppin'."
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The two weeks that were going to tell us all about the 2014 New York Giants went about as poorly as they could have gone and told us everything we needed to know.

The Dallas Cowboys beat the Giants 31-21 on Sunday at AT&T Stadium to improve to 6-1. They lead the NFC East by a half-game over the idle Philadelphia Eagles, who are 5-1 and beat the Giants 27-0 last Sunday. The Giants are 3-4, well behind two teams that just beat them, and as they head into their bye week, they look absolutely nothing like a team with playoff hopes.

"This is our bye week, and when we come back, we want to be a great team," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. "We have a good football team. When we get those kinks out of there, we'll be all right."

That is the right way for the players in the locker room to think, because their job is to take the field every week and give an honest effort to win games. But to those of us who stand on the outside and evaluate these teams against one another, it's clear that these Giants are not that good. They're not a terrible team, as they were this time last year, but they're not a contender either. They are a rebuilding team and clearly have been since they changed up the offense and blew out the free-agent budget in the offseason, signing more free agents than any other team.

And while the remainder of this year is likely to feature periods of encouraging progress, right now the Giants just don't have enough good players to hang with the top teams in the league.

"We've got to figure out a way to get better," quarterback Eli Manning said. "We have to eliminate the mistakes and the little things so we can execute better and find a way to sustain more drives."

The Giants were penalized six times for 40 yards, and the timing of the penalties was backbreaking. They lost two fumbles, the first of which came at a point when the game was still in question.

These are the mistakes to which Manning refers, and the Giants aren't a team that can overcome such mistakes. Given their significant personnel deficiencies relative to their division rivals, they need to be just about perfect to win games.

The Cowboys' offensive skill-position players Sunday around quarterback Tony Romo included Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten and emerging tight end Gavin Escobar. Their opposite numbers on the Giants were Rueben Randle, Andre Williams, Odell Beckham Jr., Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells. Size those groups up against each other and there's no reason to believe the game should have been close. That Giants' core has talent and promise, but no neutral observer could think it compares to the Cowboys' offensive personnel at this stage in the careers of the people on those lists.

Add in the fact that the Giants are missing top wide receiver Victor Cruz, starting running back Rashad Jennings, top cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and starting middle linebacker Jon Beason due to injury and lost starting defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins early in Sunday's game. These are significant losses to overcome, and the Giants at this stage in their roster rebuild don't have the depth to overcome them.

"We keep forgetting about that, because we have to come back and play next week," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "But when you do lose key players, it definitely can hurt your team."

It's crippling the Giants, who needed everything possible to go right to contend this year. In the end, the best they can hope for this season is to be able to say at its end that they made progress in the new offensive scheme and have a plan for patching the remaining holes next offseason. Any talk of firing coaches is likely to be unjustified -- as it usually is -- because this is a roster-in-progress and a project that likely needs at least two years to bear fruit.

That's the reality of what the Giants are dealing with in 2014, and it always has been. Players like Beckham offer hope for the future, and this Giants team is likely to be better this time next year than it is right now. But right now, the simple fact is it's not good enough to be a contender. Not this year.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the New York Giants' 31-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
    Kiwanuka
  • There are any number of reasons the Giants have lost the two division games they've played in the past eight days, but the players don't want to hear any of them. "There's no reason to mince words," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "I'm tired of losing, and I'm ready to win." The Giants will have to wait awhile to try again. Their next game is not for 15 more days, as they are on bye next week.
  • Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins left the locker room on crutches and with his right lower leg in a plastic boot. He said he "felt like he got hit with a hammer" and will have an MRI on Monday on his injured right calf.
  • Cornerback Prince Amukamara said he tried to jam Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant at the line on the play that ended up being the game-clinching touchdown. "Just a dumb move on my part," Amukamara said. "I should have just played him straight-up and pressed him. He made a great play."
Rodgers-Cromartie
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is active and expected to play for the New York Giants here Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. Rodgers-Cromartie was listed as questionable after missing practice Wednesday and Thursday and being only a limited participant Friday due to continuing leg and back injuries.

It remains to be seen how much Rodgers-Cromartie will be able to play. He was in and out of the Giants' Week 4 and 5 games due to leg injuries, and he left last week's game for good in the second quarter due to back spasms that the team said were related to the ongoing leg problems. Zack Bowman will fill in for Rodgers-Cromartie when he's not on the field, but if Rodgers-Cromartie can play at all, he'll have a tough time containing top Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant if he's less than 100 percent.

On the offensive side of the ball, newly signed wide receiver Kevin Ogletree is active and rookie Corey Washington, for the first time, is not. Due to last week's season-ending injury to Victor Cruz, the Giants have only four wide receivers active for the game -- Ogletree, Rueben Randle, Odell Beckham Jr. and Preston Parker -- and are likely to deploy a run-heavy game plan that leans on the tight ends as blockers and receivers.

The full list of inactives for Sunday's game here at AT&T Stadium:

GIANTS
RB Rashad Jennings
WR Corey Washington
OL Brandon Mosley
OL James Brewer
OL Adam Snyder
DE Kerry Wynn
DT Jay Bromley

COWBOYS
LB Bruce Carter
RT Doug Free
DE Jack Crawford
QB Dustin Vaughan
S Jakar Hamilton
DT Davon Coleman
OT Donald Hawkins
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Left tackle Tyron Smith of the Dallas Cowboys just became the first lineman in 10 years to win an Offensive Player of the Week award. New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is not among those who might be surprised by that.

"He's that good, definitely," Pierre-Paul said of the 23-year-old Smith. "He's as tough as there is in the whole league."

[+] EnlargeTyron Smith
AP Photo/James D. SmithTyron Smith, the first offensive lineman in 10 years to win player of the week honors, is just one Cowboy who presents the Giants with matchup challenges.
This will be the second week in a row that Pierre-Paul faces a tough test in the opposing left tackle. He had his worst game of the year last week against Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters. And things don't get easier Sunday in Dallas against Smith, who's a huge part of the reason the Cowboys and DeMarco Murray are leading the league in rushing.

"He's playing at such a high level, JPP and our defensive linemen will have to play at their best to neutralize this guy," Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "And that's what you want to do -- neutralize him."

It won't be easy, but you can look all over the two depth charts for Sunday and find matchups that aren't going to be easy for the Giants.

The Cowboys are 5-1 and playing extremely well. The Giants (3-3) are without their best wide receiver, best running back and maybe their best cornerback and are coming off an ugly 27-0 loss. A list of Dallas' offensive personnel includes wide receivers Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams, tight end Jason Witten, league-leading rusher Murray and Smith, who's one of three recent first-round picks starting on their impressive offensive line. Line up the Giants' offensive depth chart against that, and on paper it clearly looks outmanned.

Which is why, when it comes to the Pierre-Paul/Smith matchup, Fewell may have summed up the key to the Giants' chances in this game.

"Our best guy is on him," Fewell said. "So I think it'll be a heavyweight battle."

It has to be. If Pierre-Paul loses his matchup with Smith the same way he lost Sunday's to Peters, the Giants are going to have a hard time overcoming that. All over the field, there are Giants who have to play as big as possible in this game. It's possible cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie won't be able to play, and even if he can he's obviously not himself. (He estimated himself at "60 percent" Thursday). That could mean Prince Amukamara needs to cover Bryant and deliver a flawless performance if he's to stop him. Quarterback Eli Manning -- assuming his line can keep the pass rush off of him for at least a couple of seconds this week -- needs to play the way he did in Weeks 2-5, and to outperform a very comfortable Tony Romo.

In short, the Giants' top players have to be at the very tops of their respective games for this one, because there aren't going to be enough of them there. On offense, they're without Victor Cruz, Rashad Jennings and Geoff Schwartz, who represent more than 18 percent of their offensive salary cap spending. On defense, they're without Walter Thurmond, Trumaine McBride and possibly Rodgers-Cromartie, who make up more than 13 percent of their defensive cap spending. These are players to whom the Giants have committed major resources, and they're not available to them. That means the other big-resource guys -- Manning, Pierre-Paul, Amukamara, Jon Beason, etc. -- have to excel to make up for the losses.

It won't be easy, but the Giants believe in the players they're running out there Sunday. This is a chance for many of them to justify that belief and deliver a win that would qualify in almost anyone's eyes right now as an upset.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie missed a second straight day of practice Thursday, casting significant doubt on his availability for Sunday's game against Dez Bryant and the Cowboys in Dallas.

Rodgers-Cromartie
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday morning that Rodgers-Cromartie would practice on a limited basis. But Rodgers-Cromartie did not practice at all Wednesday, and he was not on the field for the portion of Thursday's practice that was open to the media.

Rodgers-Cromartie has been struggling for weeks with a leg problem that has been described at various times as an ankle, hip or hamstring injury, and he left Sunday night's game in Philadelphia with back problems. His official listing on Wednesday's injury report was "Did not practice (back/hamstring)."

If Rodgers-Cromartie can't play, Zack Bowman likely would take his place as a starting outside cornerback along with Prince Amukamara, who likely would draw Rodgers-Cromartie's usual assignment of covering the opposing team's top wide receiver. For the Cowboys, that means Bryant, who's one of the best and most physically dominating wide receivers in the game. Amukamara is having a strong season, but he does tend to look better when Rodgers-Cromartie is on the field.

The Giants also are down to their third option at nickel cornerback. With Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride out for the season with injuries, Jayron Hosley will draw that assignment Sunday, though it's possible safety Antrel Rolle could play that spot as he has in the past. If that happened, the Giants might have to revive their old three-safety look, which could bring benched starter Stevie Brown back into the mix.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- First of all, Kevin Ogletree wants everyone to know, he's not here to replace Victor Cruz. The New York Giants signed Ogletree on Tuesday after Cruz was lost for the season with a knee injury. But the former Cowboys, Lions and Buccaneers receiver is well aware of the magnitude of the loss that created his opportunity.

Ogletree
"What a great player he is," Ogletree said of Cruz. "You're not going to find a guy anywhere who's going to come in and do what he did. It's going to have to be a group thing, and we're all going to have to do something better."

Ogletree said he hopes to be able to contribute Sunday in Dallas against the Cowboys even though he's just arrived. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he shares that hope. But Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning also said the arrangement of the wide receivers without Cruz is going to have to vary and change to suit the personnel the Giants have left on the roster.

"I think we'll have a couple of guys doing a couple of different things depending on what they do best and what they feel comfortable with," Manning said. "Some guys will be in the slot and have to run the routes that Victor ran just because those were part of the plays that we have."

Preston Parker replaced Cruz as the slot receiver Sunday, and Ogletree has experience there as well. The Giants would prefer to keep Rueben Randle and rookie Odell Beckham Jr. on the outside if at all possible, but Beckham said he's learned all three positions and can move inside if need be. It sounds as though the Giants have some plays that could feature him inside, but they don't want to move him in their permanently because they don't want to cap his ability to stretch the defense deep with his speed.

"They might move me around," Beckham said. "I'm here to do whatever they need me to do. I'm comfortable anywhere they put me."

As for Ogletree, this week's opponent knows him well. He played for the Cowboys from 2009-12 and had his best game in the 2012 season opener against the Giants at MetLife Stadium. He caught eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys' victory that night.

"Kevin is a good player," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday. "He has a lot of physical tools. He can run. He's a very good route runner. Very quarterback-friendly receiver, and our guys always loved to throw to him. He can do a lot of things. He can play outside, he can play inside, he stretches the field and he's a sophisticated route-runner on the underneath stuff. They certainly got a good player."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In 2012, Jayron Hosley was a New York Giants third-round draft pick who showed promise. In 2013, he was an injury headache. When 2014 dawned, he was on the roster bubble and facing a four-game drug suspension to start the year. Hosley's is not a career that has trended in the right direction.

But injuries constantly create opportunity in the NFL, and with nickel cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride out for the year, Hosley has ascended to the role of nickel corner for the Giants as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Hosley
Hosley
"I grew in that position, learned to play that position and I feel more comfortable there than I did my rookie year," Hosley said Wednesday. "So at this point, I feel more prepared. Just being able to see things and recognize things and not worry about what you're doing as much as what the offense is doing."

Hosley might not have made the team at all if not for the suspension, which allowed the Giants to delay a roster decision on him until such time as Thurmond was on injured reserve and they needed him to back up McBride. After McBride broke his thumb in Sunday night's loss to the Eagles, Hosley became even more important to the Giants, and he said he's fully ready to go in spite of missing those first four weeks.

"It was a long four weeks," Hosley said. "I worked out and I was in shape, but it's football, and you can't just show up and expect things to go your way. I'm in better football shape now."

The Giants are thin overall at cornerback. Starting outside corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie came out of Sunday night's game with back spasms and missed practice Wednesday with continued back and hamstring issues. If Rodgers-Cromartie can't go, the Giants' nickel defense would feature Zack Bowman and Prince Amukamara in the outside corner spots with Hosley in the slot.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Three days ago, Justin Pugh played about as bad a game as an offensive lineman can play.

The New York Giants gave up eight sacks to the Eagles, and Pugh was personally responsible for four of them. But he didn't duck reporters after the game, and he hasn't let that performance rattle him.

Pugh
"My confidence is sky high right now," Pugh said Wednesday after practice. "I’ve had my ups and downs, and this is one of those things where you learn from it and get better, and that’s the mark of a true professional."

Pugh called watching the tape of the Eagles game "a nightmare" but said he also went back to watch tape of the Giants' other games this season in order to rebuild his confidence.

Entering last week's games, Pugh was the fifth-highest-rated tackle in the entire league, according to Pro Football Focus. But he gave up a strip sack on the very first possession, and things unraveled from there.

"It was technique -- I was letting technique go and just trying to not make any glaring mistakes," Pugh said. "Once you start trying to overthink or do too much, you're gonna get yourself in trouble.

"I let it snowball," he also said. "It was more mental than anything. I think I let it get to me. You can’t do that -- you can’t let things snowball, you gotta forget it and drive on. And that’s something I’m gonna do this week."

Pugh wasn't the only culprit Sunday night. All five offensive linemen received negative grades from PFF.

Will Beatty is still the top-rated tackle in the NFL, but his holding penalty against Philadelphia wiped away a Larry Donnell touchdown catch.

Weston Richburg was flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty, which derailed a promising second-quarter drive. But the rookie said he's confident the Giants' O-line can bounce back this week.

"Of course," Richburg said. "That’s up to us. We’re putting in the work today -- had a good day of practice today, working on our finish and technique.

"We’ve already put it behind us," he said of the Eagles game. "We put it behind us when the clock hit zero in Philadelphia. It’s time for Dallas."

Speaking of Dallas, Richburg will have some extra motivation this coming Sunday against the Cowboys. He grew up in Amarillo, Texas -- about six hours northwest of Dallas -- and estimates he'll have about 50 family members and friends at the game.

"This one's been on my calendar for a long time," Richburg said. "I'm excited to come play in a stadium I've been aware of and seen games in as a kid. It's a dream come true to play against the team that you watched when you were a kid."

The Cowboys only have seven sacks in six games. But they've won five games in a row, are tied for the best record in the league and afford the Giants the opportunity to make that Eagles game an afterthought.

"I can’t wait to get back out there," Pugh said. "It’s a big game, it’s a divisional game, and obviously to put that one to bed last week is gonna be fun."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A sudden rash of injuries has left Tom Coughlin and the rest of the New York Giants' coaching staff shuffling pieces around in advance of Sunday's key division matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. Coughlin addressed a few of the issues in his Wednesday morning news conference:
  • Jennings
    As expected, running back Rashad Jennings will miss a second straight game with his knee injury. The Giants have a bye next week and play a "Monday Night Football" game in Week 9. Asked whether Jennings might be back for that game, Coughlin said, "I hope so. I can't tell you that for sure, but I would hope." Rookie Andre Williams is likely to start in Jennings' place again, but as you saw Sunday night, he shares the workload with Peyton Hillis, whom they trust more on passing downs.
  • Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie continues to struggle with leg and back injuries. Coughlin said Rodgers-Cromartie would practice Wednesday, but added, "What can he do? You'd have to put it in the 'limited' category." Rodgers-Cromartie was not on the field for the portion of practice that was open to the media, which indicates he may not have practiced after all. Zack Bowman would fill in for Rodgers-Cromartie if he can't play Sunday.
  • With Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride now both out for the season, Jayron Hosley will be the nickel cornerback. It's an opportunity for the 2012 third-round pick, who missed the first four games of this season on a drug suspension, to prove he belongs in the league after a disappointing first couple of years.
  • Coughlin said Preston Parker, who filled in as the slot wide receiver when Victor Cruz went down Sunday night, will get an opportunity with Cruz and backup slot receiver Jerrel Jernigan out for the year. But Coughlin also said there might be some game-planning adjustments to account for the relative abilities of the players they have left at wide receiver. Rookie Corey Washington could conceivably see more looks, and Coughlin said he hoped newly signed Kevin Ogletree would be able to help this weekend.
  • Cruz made a brief visit to the team facility Wednesday morning, but he did not stop to talk to reporters and the team was on the practice field while he was here. Cruz had surgery Monday to repair the torn patellar tendon in his right knee.

More to come after practice and Wednesday's open locker room session.

The Film Don't Lie: Giants

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
11:00
AM ET
A weekly look at something the New York Giants must fix:

The Dallas Cowboys have the No. 1 rushing offense in the league. They are averaging 160.3 rush yards per game, 10.5 more than any other team. Running back DeMarco Murray leads the league in rushing by 243 yards after only six weeks. In other words, Dallas likes to run the ball and is very good at doing so.

Although the New York Giants have a lot to fix after Sunday night's 27-0 loss in Philadelphia, the most important thing this week is their run defense. The Giants made a poor game-plan decision Sunday, and the Eagles took advantage of it. The Giants stayed in a nickel defense pretty much all night, which wasn't a problem in and of itself. But they uncharacteristically took their best coverage linebacker, Jacquian Williams, off the field far more than usual. They kept both safeties high for much of the game and relied on linebackers Jameel McClain and Jon Beason for run support, and LeSean McCoy had a field day while the Eagles' line blew the Giants' front four off the ball.

The Giants need to use safety Antrel Rolle in the box more than they did Sunday. They're better off when Williams is on the field to cover the tight end and the defensive backs help in run support. If they don't go back to that formula Sunday, they're going to have a tough time stopping Murray before he gets to the second level.
videoPHILADELPHIA -- The New York Giants lost more than a game here Sunday night. They lost wide receiver Victor Cruz for the season to a knee injury -- a loss that hit them on a deeper emotional level than did the 27-0 loss on the scoreboard. They also lost ground in the NFC East. Rather than playing for first place next week in Dallas, they sit at 3-3, a full two games behind the two teams tied for first place in their division.

It was a terrible night on every conceivable level for the Giants -- a rude splash of cold water in the face of a team that was beginning to feel as though it had things figured out.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
Rich Schultz /Getty ImagesEli Manning and the Giants couldn't get going against the Eagles and fell to 3-3.
"I think it's a good reminder that you can't just show up on the field and have things go well for you automatically," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. "You've got to earn it."

The Giants aren't as bad as they looked Sunday night. Nor are they as good as they looked during the three-game winning streak they carried here with them on a wave of bizarre midweek trash talk. They are what we thought they were all along -- a rebuilding team that's going to show progress in spurts but isn't likely to sustain excellence anytime soon. They're a team unlikely to be able to survive injuries to players as important to them as Cruz and injured running back Rashad Jennings, who missed this game with a knee injury of his own. They're good enough and well-coached enough that it's not going to shock you to see them win any given game, yet they're unfinished enough that they can still get their helmets handed to them by a 2013 playoff team that has as many good players as the Eagles do.

"Definitely, the first couple of series, we got punched in the mouth," Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "We started bleeding, and we couldn't put a Band-Aid on it."

The Eagles dominated the Giants on both lines. They sacked Manning six times and backup Ryan Nassib twice in what Giants right tackle Justin Pugh called "probably the worst game I've ever played, hands down, not even close." The Eagles' offensive line kept the Giants' pass-rushers away from quarterback Nick Foles and opened enough holes to break star running back LeSean McCoy out of his early-season funk. The Eagles were, by the Giants' own admission, the more physical team and the team that wanted the game more.

"We took the night off," Giants safety Antrel Rolle said. "No rhyme or reason for it."

That's going to be the frustrating thing about this Giants season. You're not likely to know when the good game is coming or when the stinker is just around the corner. They will be inconsistent and maddening, because that is the type of team they are. They are still putting a lot of new pieces together, still trying to make progress in the new offense. If you believed that progress would continue without any setbacks, you now know how wrong you were.

The injury to Cruz only adds to the challenge. Jennings was clearly missed, as the Giants don't trust rookie Andre Williams in passing situations yet and the Eagles played defense as though they knew it. And starting cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who missed the second half with back spasms, is starting to become a regular injury question mark.

A team in the Giants' position -- one that's still trying to find itself -- is going to feel those injuries keenly. Cruz, Jennings and Rodgers-Cromartie are vital pieces not easily replaced. And even if the Giants get tough relief efforts from guys such as Odell Beckham Jr., Williams and Zack Bowman, there are enough cracks elsewhere on the roster that the hiccups are likely to continue.

There's nothing wrong with being a team like that as long as you're making progress. And Sunday night notwithstanding, the Giants have shown progress over the season's first six weeks. If you can contend while you're rebuilding, it's a bonus. And while these Giants may yet be able to pull that off, their main goals this year should be to show progress and figure out which holes remain for them to plug next offseason. Nothing about the first six weeks of the season has really changed that. Sunday night, in the end, was only a reminder that this is a team that still has a long way to go.

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