GIANTS PUT PETRUS ON LINE VS. COWBOYS
"There is no better way to characterize what will take place Sunday night for
the Giants than to listen to right guard Chris Snee, who has been a part of this
longer than nearly all of his teammates.
“Our playoffs start now,’’ Snee said yesterday. “I think that’s the way you
have to look at it.’’
There is no other way to look at it. The Giants (6-6) have the rare
opportunity, after losing four consecutive games, to face the rival Cowboys
(7-5) at Cowboys Stadium for first place in the NFC East.
And dropped smack in the middle of this clash of semi-titans is none other
than Mitch Petrus, a big, burly “aw-shucks’’ country boy with energy to burn and
a question on his mind as, for the first time in his two-year stay with the
Giants, he was surrounded by a whole bunch of cameras and microphones and
notebooks while slurping down an energy drink from a can.
“Do I have chocolate on my mouth?’’ he wanted to know.
It has come to this for the Giants and their shape-shifting offensive line,
which in the past few weeks has lost starting left tackle Will Beatty to a
detached retina, tackle-eligible Stacy Andrews to blood clots in both his lungs
and most recently starting center David Baas to what the team is calling
“intense headaches.’’ Baas was stricken only hours before last Sunday’s 38-35
loss to the unbeaten Packers with what he says are “migraine-type headaches’’
that kept him out of that game and most likely will keep him out of this
The sudden loss of Baas forced an adjustment on the fly: moving Kevin Boothe
from left guard to center and Petrus — who has barely played in his two years on
the roster — into his first NFL start, at left guard. The reconfigured line held
up just fine, but up next is a more forceful challenge.
The Cowboys have a killer defensive front, led by NFL sack-leader DeMarcus
Ware (15 sacks), Anthony Spencer (six sacks) and nose tackle Jay Ratliff. With
35 sacks, the Cowboys — directed by pressure-happy defensive coordinator Rob
Ryan — trail only the Ravens (41) and are tied with the Texans and Vikings for
NFL sack mastery.
“They’re good,’’ Snee said. “They have been for years and at times they’ve
given us problems. It’s tough when you have five guys who can rush the passer as
well as they can.’’
The Packers last week had no idea Petrus would be on the field, but the
Cowboys are certainly clued in. That means the Cowboys can target the 2010
fifth-round pick from Arkansas.
“I definitely think that could be a possibility, if somebody said ‘They’re
going to test him more,’ because Green Bay really didn’t know,’’ Petrus said.
“We’re really going to see what this guy has because if this guy can’t play
we’re going to keep bringing it. I’m up for the challenge, though. The
pressure’s on, right?’’
Right. Except pressure and Petrus don’t go together, not outwardly, anyway.
He fidgets when he sits and isn’t any calmer when he plays. Right after Petrus
learned he was about to get his first start, he approached Snee and the other
linemen to express his excitement.
“The guys wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to be spastic,’’ Petrus
“I like that intensity,’’ Snee said. “I just wanted to make sure he was calm.
Not to be bouncing off the walls before the game, which he was close to
Petrus certainly didn’t dominate Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji but he
“Sometimes we have to calm him down a little bit,’’ Boothe said. “He brings a
lot of energy, which is good, it’s needed. He’s a talker, even when we don’t
want him to talk.’’
Petrus’ parents and some friends will be making the six-hour drive from
Arkansas for the game.
“I go all out, man,’’ he said. “Don’t want to play with any regrets. I don’t
want to waste the ability I’ve been blessed with.’’