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NEWARK STAR LEDGER
Giants' Vctor Cruz Says There Will Be Opportunities Against The Saints
Excerpt: "Statistically, Victor Cruz enjoyed one of his best outings of the 2011 season in New Orleans.
On the national Monday night stage, the Giants wide receiver recorded a season-high nine receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns as his breakout season continued in Week 12.
But the majority of the production occurred in the second half, when the Giants were playing catch-up opposite a Saints offense that was churning out points without much resistance.
The 49-24 blowout loss was so one-sided that Cruz didn’t even bother celebrating either touchdown with his customary salsa dance.
“It was definitely embarrassing,” Cruz said of the loss. “Whenever you get beat like that it’s never a good feeling.”
It wasn’t all a disaster for the Giants, at least offensively. From the outset, Eli Manning relied on Cruz, who was starting for the injured Mario Manningham, as his top target. He connected with Cruz on the Giants’ second and third plays from scrimmage for a combined 31 yards." Read more...
Giants' DC Perry Fewell Recalls How Saints "Kicked The (CRAP) Out Of Us
Excerpt: "Perry Fewell wasn't quite up to revisiting the last time the Giants played the Saints, a 49-24 loss on New Orleans' home field. Fewell's unit surrendered 577 yards of total offense to the Saints.
"I wanted to forget about that game because they kicked the (crap) out of us," the Giants defensive coordinator said today. "We have a chance to defend them this time, and we’re doing everything that we possibly can, watching as much tape, getting as many tips as we can in order to be able to compete with these guys this year. They have a very good football team."
Quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense haven't been quite so potent with head coach and play-caller Sean Payton suspended for the season as a result of the bounty scandal. But the Saints still rank sixth in the league in total offense, and Fewell isn't buying that there's been any drop-off." Read more...
Giants' Victor Cruz Calls Last Season's Loss To Saints "Embarrassing"
Excerpt: "The Giants' recent memories of facing the Saints aren't pretty. In each of the last two meetings, the Saints blew the Giants out in New Orleans.
Last year's rout ended with a Saints 49-24 win.
Chris Snee said he didn't even break a sweat before the Saints jumped out to big lead.
Osi Umenyiora left the game to undergo X-rays on his ankle and when he returned to the sideline the Saints had scored "like four or five touchdowns in that span," he recalled.
From what Victor Cruz remembers, it was humiliating.
"It was definitely embarrassing," the wide receiver said. "Whenever you get beat like that it's never a good feeling. You never get a good taste in your mouth. But we knew we just had to keep pressing forward. We couldn't dwell on it too much and we had to keep going. Look at the tape, correct our mistakes and keep pushing forward. So it definitely wasn't a good feeling. Hopefully we can do something to change that this year." Read more...
Giants' Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Phillips Not Practicing Thursday
Excerpt: "Hakeem Nicks was not on the Giants practice injury report yesterday, but he isn't practicing today.
Nicks was on a stationary bike during the media's access period and didn't join the wide receivers when the team split into individuals.
Nicks has battled through a sprained MCL he suffered against the Buccaneers in Week 2, which forced him to miss the next three games. But he's played in the last seven and insisted last week that he felt the best he has since he broke his foot during OTAs in late May." Read more...
Saints' Drew Brees Ready To Move On After Dwelling On Five Intereception Performance
Excerpt: "Drew Brees had extra time to dwell on what was perhaps his worst performance of his career last Thursday against the Falcons and admitted as such Wednesday.
Brees told reporters that his miserable showing last week, which included a career-high five interceptions, was on his mind longer than usual because of the three extra days between then and Sunday's game against the Giants. And the week before wasn't much better – Brees threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns against the 49ers.
"I probably hung on to that Atlanta loss a little longer than normal just because we had more time," Brees said, via Nakia Hogan of the New Orleans Time-Picayune. "I obviously dug deep to find where I can make the corrections, where we can make the corrections and how we can move on from that." Read more...
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS.
Vacchiano: Pierce Loves ow Antrel Rolls
Excerpt: "Antrel Rolle's first attempt at shaking up the Giants came in only his second game with Big Blue. After a particularly bitter loss in Indianapolis in 2010, he criticized the coaching staff, the game plan and the lack of leadership by his teammates..
And from afar, the recently retired Antonio Pierce couldn’t help but smile
Not long after that, Pierce called Rolle and told him “You’re the type of guy they need in that locker room.” Pierce knew, because a few months earlier, before a neck injury ended his nine-year NFL career, he was that guy.
It was clear that when he left the Giants, he left a void. A loud leadership void.
“I know they have other guys in the locker room they call leaders,” Pierce told the Daily News on Thursday. “But you can’t force it on someone. It has to come naturally. With Rolle, it does.”
It should be no surprise, then, that Pierce — now an analyst for ESPN — was thrilled to hear Rolle speak out so strongly on Tuesday about the Giants’ need to get “nasty,” to “get a little bit more dog in us” and to stop heaping so much pregame praise on their opponents. Pierce, who for five years in New York prodded his teammates with everything from words to actions to air horns, agreed that the defense of the defending Super Bowl champs has been pushed around far too much.
So he definitely approved of that message. And he absolutely loves Rolle’s outspoken style.
“I love it when he comes out and says stuff,” Pierce said. “Sometimes you have to step on people’s toes to get to where you need to be. Sometimes you need to start a fire.
“I think in New York you have to have a guy like that. You go back to Jessie Armstead, Harry Carson — every great Giants team had a guy like that. And it always comes from the defensive side of the ball.” Read more...
Osi Goes On A Rolle, Praising Drew Brees
Excerpt: "Drew Brees is “one of the best quarterbacks in the league” and Osi Umenyiora isn’t afraid to say it – whether Antrel Rolle likes it or not.
In the days after Rolle publicly scolded his teammates for giving opponents too many pre-game “hugs and kisses”, the Giants haven’t been shy at all about complimenting the Saints. Umenyiora was one of many – including Rolle – who heaped praise on Brees this week.
He just doesn’t see any connection between praising a player in the days before a game and what ends up happening on the field.
“There’s definitely no carryover for that,” Umenyiora said. “I think a lot of times you like to build somebody up only to tear them down. You don’t want to give anybody bulletin board material. You don’t want to say ‘Oh these guys suck’ and then he comes out there and throws for 13 touchdowns on you. So if anything you want to err on the side of caution and say how good he is and then go out there and knock his head off.”
What about what Rolle said on Tuesday, when he said the Giants “need to start giving more credit after the game as opposed to before the game”?
“That’s Antrel’s opinion,” Umenyiora said. “He’s one of our leaders. He’s one of the very good players we have on this team, so he’s entitled to that. But at the end of the day, if a guy’s a good player I’m going to call him a good player, period. That’s just the way it is. We’re playing against Drew Brees. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league. I’m going to say he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league. If anybody has a problem with that, I guess they’ll take that up with me in private.” Read more...
Domenik Hixon Could Handle Some Return Duties, Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn Says
Excerpt: "It sounds like that may apply to kick returns more than punt returns, especially if RB David Wilson's role on offense grows. "Just seeing how the game flows, if David is playing more on offense, it might be something that (Hixon) will do," Quinn added." Read more...
Nicks Rides Back Into The Injury Area
Excerpt: "So much for Hakeem Nicks feeling like his old self.
The Giants' wide receiver wasn't even listed on the injury report on Wednesday, but on Thursday he was back on the sidelines, riding the exercise bike as the rest of his team participated in practice. The exact reason isn't known, but Nicks has battled foot and knee injuries all season long." Read more...
THE NEW YORK POST
Spags' Saints NFL's Worst - But Improving
Excerpt: "The Saints’ defense is dead-last in the NFL this season, allowing 440.5 yards per game, but there are signs things are improving as the Giants prepare to face New Orleans on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The last two weeks, for the first time all season, New Orleans held teams under 400 yards: the Falcons, last week, netted 283; the 49ers, the week before, had 375. The Saints lost both games, but the defense allowed 23 points to the Falcons and 17 to the Niners (who had two touchdowns on interception returns).
Those numbers aren’t what might be expected from the 32nd-ranked defense in the league.
“I see a very fast, a physical defense,” Giants guard Chris Snee said of the Saints. “I don’t put too much into statistics or things like that.”
Snee also should be well aware of how misleading statistics can be.
Two weeks ago, the Giants racked up 390 yards of offense against the Packers and scored 38 points. But on Monday, the Giants again had 390 yards of offense against the Redskins — and scored 16 points.
So now Snee and the Giants’ offense are set to play a Saints defense that appears to be better at the moment than its ranking for the season.
“They’re playing very well right now,” guard Kevin Boothe said, “and that’s what I’m really going off of.”
The Saints’ defense is orchestrated by coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who was the Giants’ defensive coordinator during the 2007-08 Super Bowl season. Spagnuolo departed New York to be head coach of the Rams for two years, but now works opposite Drew Brees in New Orleans.
The Giants are aware of what a Spagnuolo-led defense can do. They’re also familiar with its intricacies." Read more...
Giants Need Fans To Overwhelm Saints With Noise
Excerpt: "When the Giants talk about All In, they mean a stadium shaking with a howling blue army — their 12th Man, its deafening roar thundering Sunday through a place that will unmistakably become Giants Stadium, no matter what they call it now, when the Saints come marching in.
The Giants won’t soon forget how the Superdome crowd has punctured their eardrums over the years, and now they are asking their fans to be anything but Saints, to help fan the flames of another Super Bowl run in their most desperate hour.
So when The Post asked Eli Manning what his message would be for Giants fans Sunday, he said:
“When the Saints have the ball, that’s the time to start yelling at our defense and help them out.”I asked defensive coordinator Perry Fewell if he has noticed how his pass rushers can feed off the crowd.
They want to feed off the crowd, the crowd gets them rolling, and really, that’s what you call home-field advantage, right?” Fewell said. “And so sometimes we need them to inspire us.”
Sometimes, of course, the fans need the Giants to inspire them, the way they did against the Packers.
“We played with a lot of energy, and our crowd was fired up because we were playing well.” Chris Snee said.The Giants yearn for gusts of noise blowing at Drew Brees." Read more...
Hakeem Nicks Knee Is Sore Again
Excerpt: "Hakeem Nicks’ left knee woes emerged again yesterday, an alarming development heading into the Giants’ game Sunday against the Saints.
Nicks, who has had an injury-plagued season, had to miss practice due to what coach Tom Coughlin termed “a sore knee.” The star wide receiver did not participate at all, making his status for today’s final practice of the week, and the game, a major issue.
“It’s always a concern,” Coughlin said, “but hopefully it will subside and he’ll be ready to go.”
Nicks is normally accessible and available, but yesterday he did not talk to the media. Although he missed three games earlier this season (Weeks 3-5, due to knee and foot issues), he has played in seven straight games and has been practicing regularly. He was not mentioned on Wednesday’s injury report.
Victor Cruz said he was “a little bit” worried Nicks missed practice." Read more...
THE BERGEN RECORD
Giants Not Buying Into Poor Numbers On Saints' Defense
Excerpt: "The overall statistics for the Saints’ defense, ranked last in the NFL, are downright ugly.
The Giants (7-5), though, have delved deeper into the numbers as they prepare to host the Saints (5-7) on Sunday, hoping to have Hakeem Nicks available after their No. 1 wide receiver missed Thursday’s practice due to a recurrence of his sore left knee.
What they see is an improving unit, one getting more familiar with its new defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, who held the same job with the Giants when they beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII before starting his three-season tenure as Rams head coach.
"I look at their most recent games, they’re playing very well," Giants left guard Kevin Boothe said. "That’s all I’m really going off of."
The Saints have allowed opponents a league-worst average of 440.5 yards per game – a league-worst 286.7 yards through the air and an average of 153.8 yards rushing, 30th in the 32-team NFL.
The Saints, who lost their first four games as coach Sean Payton serves a season-long suspension for Bountygate and interim coach Joe Vitt missed the first six games, have now lost two straight, including 23-13 loss at Atlanta on Thursday.
But the Saints held the Falcons (11-1) to 283 total yards, including 124 on the ground, marking the second straight game the Saints have held opponents to less than 375 total yards. Four weeks earlier, the Saints beat the visiting Falcons, 31-27, despite allowing 454 total yards.
"I haven’t gotten stuck on the bad stats so I’m not going to get stuck on the good ones," Spagnuolo said.
"It’s more aggressive, the Atlanta game is a good example of that," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of the Saints’ defense. "No doubt, you remember when he [Spagnuolo] was here and how they played. That’s what you start to see."
Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride estimated he’s probably prepared for this defense 32 times in his career, since it’s essentially the same blitz-reliant, 4-3 base scheme the late Jim Johnson designed as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator. Spagnuolo served as an Eagles assistant from 1999-2006 before joining the Giants.
Wide receiver Victor Cruz agreed there are definitely similarities to the Saints’ defense and to what Spagnuolo constructed both with the Giants and Rams, particularly with their blitz packages." Read more...
Giants' Notes: Osi Umenyiora Gives Out Praise Where It Is Due
Excerpt: "If DE Osi Umenyiora believes an opponent is a good player, he’ll continue to say so, no matter what S Antrel Rolle thinks.
During a radio interview on Tuesday, Rolle opined the Giants were throwing too much pregame praise their opponents’ way, adding they needed to revive their "nasty attitude."
"That’s Antrel’s opinion … he’s entitled to that," Umenyiora said. "If we’re playing against Drew Brees, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league and I’m going to say he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
"If anybody has a problem with that, then I guess they’ll take that up with me in private.
"Nobody is in awe of anybody out there," Umenyiora added." Read more...
NEW YORK TIMES
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Giants vs. Saints: Scouting Report
"The Giants will attempt to stay atop the NFC East and break a three-game losing streak vs. New Orleans when they host the Saints this Sunday in MetLife Stadium. A loss in Washington on Monday night dropped the Giants to 7-5, one game ahead of the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys in the division race. The Saints started the season 0-4 and have lost their last two games, to San Francisco and Atlanta. But in-between they won five of six games and are 5-7 overall. The Giants lead the series, 14-12, but New Orleans has recently had the upper hand, winning the last three meetings, including a 49-24 triumph last season in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Saints are ranked sixth in the NFL in total yards (386.4), but this is a team that prefers to move the ball through the air. They are third in the league in passing (294.2) and 27th in rushing yardage (92.3). But that last figure is a bit misleading. In the first seven games, New Orleans averaged 72.6 yards on the ground. Aaron Kroner then turned over the interim head coaching duties to Joe Vitt and focused his attention on the rushing attack, his specialty. In the last five weeks, New Orleans has averaged 119.8 rushing yards a game and 4.8 yards per carry.
New Orleans is tied for fifth in scoring (26.6 points a game). The Saints have scored touchdowns on an NFL-best 70.3 percent of their trips inside their opponents’ 20-yard line (26 of 37). They have attempted only 14 field goals. New Orleans has a minus-two turnover differential (the Giants are plus-14, tied with Chicago for best in the NFC). In their seven losses, the Saints had 14 turnovers. In five victories, they gave the ball way just five times. They threw an average of 46 passes in their losses, but only 34 in their wins. When Drew Brees throws at least 40 passes, the Saints are 1-6 (beating only San Diego on October 7).
Brees is a six-time Pro Bowler who is still one of the NFL’s very best quarterbacks. He is in the top 10 in all major passing categories this season. Brees leads the league with 31 touchdown passes, but is also tied, with Andrew Luck, for the league-high with 16 interceptions. Last week, he threw five picks in a loss at Atlanta, where his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass ended at a record 54. Brees has excellent throwing mechanics and he has a terrific feel for when he has to step up in the pocket. And few quarterbacks are better at utilizing pump fakes. Brees does have 72 career fumbles, including five this season. His backup is Chase Daniel.
New Orleans has one of the NFL’s most productive receiving corps. Marques Colston tops the team with 61 catches and is tied with tight end Jimmy Graham for the lead with eight touchdown receptions. Colston is a premier possession receiver who is big and strong and has a huge catching radius. Devery Henderson is a nine-year veteran with outstanding takeoff quickness and the speed to stretch the field. He has a 17.9-yard average on 243 career catches. Lance Moore is one of the NFL’s most precise route-runners and a consistent vertical threat. Joseph Morgan runs deep and clears out the underneath routes. He has just five catches, but they’ve accounted for 204 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown.
Graham, a 2011 Pro Bowler, lines up all over the field and is right behind Colston with 59 catches. Six of his eight scores have been from the red zone. He is a big, athletic receiving tight end who excels at working the voids in a defense. David Thomas is a reliable outlet target, though he missed the Falcons game with a knee injury. Michael Higgins was signed from the practice squad and instantly became the team’s best-blocking tight end. He started in Atlanta.
For a team that doesn’t generate a lot of yardage on the ground, New Orleans has as deep a group of backs as any team in the league; five of them are in uniform on game day. Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram both run strong between the tackles. Thomas is the only Saints back with a 100-yard game this season. He leads the team with 425 yards and his good receiving skills have resulted in 22 catches. Ingram has a Saints-high 98 carries and is a powerful runner with good vision, quickness and explosion. He is often employed in short-yardage situations. Darren Sproles missed three games with a broken hand, but has at least four receptions each time he’s been in uniform. Sproles is primarily a perimeter player (he has 51 catches) who has uncommon body control and is dangerous in open spaces. Chris Ivory did not play in the season’s first seven games, but has since averaged 5.4 yards on 36 carries and scored two touchdowns. Travaris Cadet, a rookie from Appalachian State, is a jack-of-all-trades back.
The Saints have a talented offensive line, but they’ve had to use four different players at right tackle in the last four games. Zach Strief is the listed starter, but he missed three games with a groin injury before returning to the lineup against the Falcons. He re-injured himself in the fourth quarter. Charles Brown was the first fill-in, but he suffered an MCL injury at Oakland in his third start. New Orleans then turned to Bryce Harris, who started against San Francisco two weeks ago and promptly broke his leg. That forced William Robinson to play right tackle. When Strief was hurt again in Atlanta, Robinson stepped back in.
Elsewhere on the line, left guard Carl Nicks – perhaps the premier player in the league at his position - signed in the offseason with Tampa Bay. So the Saints replaced him with another Pro Bowler, former Baltimore Raven Ben Grubbs, who mauls opponents with his powerful upper body. Right guard Jahri Evans is a three-time Pro Bowler who has started 116 consecutive games. He is an instinctive player who adjusts quickly in space. Left tackle Jermon Bushrod has been a steady performer while starting all 12 games at left tackle. The center is Brian de la Puente, who is tough, competitive and smart. Eric Olsen is used as an extra tight end in their heavy run formation.
The Saints have struggled at times to adapt to the system installed by new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who held the same position for the Giants in 2007-2008. New Orleans is 32nd and last in total yards (440.5) and rushing yards (153.8) yards allowed and 30th vs. the pass (286.7). The Saints have also given up a league-high 290 first downs and they are 28th in scoring defense (27.3 points per game). New Orleans allowed at least 400 yards in each of its first 10 games and league-high totals of 53 runs of 10 or more yards and 20 red zone touchdown passes. But the defense is improving and last week surrendered only 283 yards in Atlanta.
In addition to Spagnuolo, the Saints have several defensive players who weren’t on the team when they faced the Giants last year. Linebackers David Hawthorne (formerly with Seattle) and Curtis Lofton (Atlanta) were signed when New Orleans was uncertain if Jonathan Vilma would be suspended. Former Eagle and Ram Brodrick Bunkley is a starting defensive tackle.
Cameron Jordan, a former first-round draft choice, is an attacking style left end who uses a variety of pass rush moves. He leads the team with 7.0 sacks. On the right side, former Pro Bowler Will Smith is a smart, versatile and violent player who has 5.0 sacks. Bunkley is a heavy-bodied run-stopper and the other tackle, Sedrick Ellis, is an active, natural-leverage player. Backup Turk McBride has 25 career starts and plays with a hot motor. Martez Wilson is a former linebacker who has become a disruptive pass rusher as a substitute end. Junior Galette has been relentless while playing about 30 snaps a game.
Lofton is seldom off the field and leads the Saints with 122 tackles (76 solo). He has impressive lateral speed and downhill quickness and a nose for the football. Hawthorne missed five games with a hamstring injury but when healthy, he has been a productive first and second-down run defender as the strongside backer. Vilma, formerly the middle linebacker, now plays on the weak side. No longer an every-snap player, Vilma plays in the base and goal line packages. Vilma is instinctive and athletic and speed remains one of his most valuable assets. Jonathan Casillas enters the game when the Saints use their nickel package, where his impressive coverage ability is best utilized. Scott Shanle, the weakside linebacker last season, has been a healthy scratch the last four games.
Cornerback Patrick Robinson usually covers the opposition’s No. 1 receiver. He leads the team with three interceptions, including one he returned 99 yards for a touchdown against Philadelphia, and 15 passes defensed. He has top-end speed, which enables him to run stride-for-stride with the NFL’s fastest receivers. Jabari Greer is a smart, savvy veteran with good movement skills at left corner. Strong safety Roman Harper (96) and free safety Malcolm Jenkins (95) are the team’s second and third-leading tacklers. Harper often lines up at the linebacker level and is at his best in the box. Jenkins has the versatility to line up at corner. Elbert Mack is a feisty nickel corner and Rafael Bush is the dime back. Cory White has capably filled in at times.
The Saints often get a field possession advantage thanks to punter Thomas Morstead, who benefits from playing in a dome and leads the league with a 44.8-yard net average – almost one yard better than the NFL record 44.0-yard average posted last season by San Francisco’s Andy Lee. Morstead’s gross average is third at 50.0. Kicker Garrett Hartley has made 11 of 14 field goal attempts and has 34 touchbacks. Cadet is fifth in the NFL with a 28.8-yard average on 17 kickoff returns, including a 75-yarder, and Sproles is averaging 8.7 yards on 15 punt returns."
David Wilson Still Seeing Limited Time
"Wilson had as many rushing attempts – four – as kickoff returns Monday night, when the Giants lost to the Redskins in Washington, 17-16. Those carries totaled just nine yards. The numbers did not match the pregame speculation that Wilson’s workload and production would increase when he moved up the depth chart to No. 2 after Andre Brown broke his leg the previous week vs. Green Bay.
“I was kind of expecting more, but really I didn’t know what to expect,” Wilson said. “So I’m just glad to get involved.”
Although he played only briefly on offense, the reviews were positive.
“He runs hard,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “He ran hard and he showed that he can go in there and play, there’s no question about that. He has learned, he has developed. We need that. We need to be able to count on a number of backs this time of year and really at any time.”
Whether Wilson gets a bigger workload Sunday at home against New Orleans won’t be determined until game day. In Washington, Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 103 yards on 24 carries, and those numbers were a major factor in Wilson getting so few attempts.
“He was doing great,” Gilbride said of Bradshaw. “We were running the ball.
“It’s just a matter of how the game was played out. (Wilson) wasn’t in that much, so he didn’t get a lot of chances to run it or pass-protect. Again, the other guy was doing very well.”
The most memorable Wilson moment from the game occurred on his first carry, when linebacker London Fletcher knocked him down with a crushing hit after a five-yard gain.
“He caught me in the air,” Wilson said. “It was a nice hit, so I can’t take that from him.”
He’ll gladly absorb a few more of those if it means getting the ball in his hands more often.
Lawrence Tynes 10 points Monday night increased his season total to 127 – that both leads the NFL and is a career high. Tynes, who has been the league’s scoring and field goal leader for much of the season, is five points ahead of New England’s Stephen Gostkowksi.
Tynes’ previous career best was 126 points in 2009, when he kicked 27 field goals. This season, with four games remaining, he has booted 32 three-pointers. Tynes' point total is tied for the third-highest single-season total in Giants history; Ali Haji-Sheikh scored 127 points in 1983. The record of 148 was set by Jay Feely in 2005. John Carney scored 143 points in 2008.
*The Giants are 26-29 in games following a Monday night game, including 8-8 since 2000.
*Hakeem Nicks joined the list of players not practicing with a sore knee, which has bothered him most of the season. “It’s always a concern, but hopefully it will subside and he’ll be ready to go,” coach Tom Coughlin said.
Also sitting out were running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), safety Kenny Phillips (knee), tight end Travis Beckum (knee) and safety Tyler Sash (hamstring).
Phillips played the last two weeks after missing six consecutive games with a knee injury. Did he have a setback in Washington?
“I don’t think it was a setback,” Coughlin said. “Just something that he’s dealing with.”
Linebackers Michael Boley (shoulder) and Jacquian Williams (knee) were limited. Williams has missed the last six games, but Coughlin said the second-year pro “moved well. He did. He practiced well.” Asked if he was more encouraged about Williams returning this week, Coughlin said, “I think that would be a good assessment.”
Another linebacker, Chase Blackburn (ankle), practiced fully, as did center David Baas (shoulder), wide receiver Domenik Hixon (ankle) and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (back).
Hixon missed the last two games. Although he has just one punt return this season, special teams coordinator Tom Quinn hinted Hixon could assume that role and perhaps return kickoffs as well this week.
“He’s done both well,” Quinn said. “Just seeing how the game flows, if David is playing more on offense, it might be something that he will do. We’re ready to go either way, just trying to get him more involved.
“If he’s active, we’ll start getting him back into his role, getting him on some special teams. Hopefully, we’ll see an increase if he’s active.”
*The Giants will hold their annual Toys For Tots drive on Sunday. Giants fans are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys to any of the collection vehicles and volunteers located at each gate prior to entering MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Uniformed Marine Corps Reserves will be on hand to assist in collecting these gifts. All gifts collected during the drive will be donated to Toys for Tots, the premier community action program of the United States Marines.
*The game against New Orleans Sunday will highlight the Giants’ “Loyal Blue Thank You Week.” The Giants are showing their appreciation to their season ticket holders with a variety of exclusive benefits and events. They will include:
This afternoon, a conference call with defensive standouts Justin Tuck and Antrel Rolle was held for season tickets holders. On Sunday, the Giants, for the first time, will use the stadium’s numerous video boards and televisions to enable season ticket holders and their friends to see their own pictures on game day. Fans are urged to share their favorite Giants-themed photos, which will be displayed throughout the day, starting pre-game in the plazas, and all through the game, including halftime. Fans are urged to send their photos to #LoyalBlue using the Instagram Mobile App.
Also Sunday, the Giants will host a pregame alumni Q&A from 2:30–3:10 p.m. at the MetLife stage on the Plaza with Bob Tucker, Mark Collins and Bob Kratch, hosted by My9’s Russ Salzberg. Immediately following the question-and-answer session, former Giants center and captain Shaun O’Hara will sign autographs for an hour.
The first 10,000 Thumann’s stadium hot dogs will be $1 until 30 minutes before kickoff, at 3:55 p.m. (limit 2 per person); offer available throughout the stadium and the Plaza. In addition, 2,500 free Dunkin Donuts hot chocolates will also be available exclusively in the MetLife Plaza area when the Gates open at 2:30. Eighty thousand free “Loyal Blue” themed gifts will be handed out as fans leave the game.
On Tuesday, December, 11, there will be an exclusive Holiday Shopping Event for season ticket holders and their friends and family at the MetLife Stadium Flagship Store from Noon to 8 p.m."
If Healthy, Giants' Domenik Hixon May Return To KR/PR Duty
Excerpt: "Before the 2010 season, Domenik Hixon was quite the weapon as a kick returner and punt returner for the New Yorkfootball Giants. However, in 2010 he would suffer an ACL tear before the season even started, only to be followed up by another ACL tear in Week 2 of the 2011 season. But now special teams coach Tom Quinn has announced that if Hixon's ankle is healthy enough, he will return to his role as returner on Sunday.
Before the injuries, Hixon averaged 15.1 yards per punt return in 2009. Overall in his career, he's returned 51 punts for 561 yards and a touchdown. As a kick returner he's returned 80 kicks for 1,966 yards and a touchdown." Read more...
Giants' Defense Thankful To Be Playing Saints' Drew Brees On Sunday
Excerpt: "The New York Giants have always had trouble defending mobile quarterbacks. Whether it be Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Vince Young,Robert Griffin III or even Aaron Rodgers, the Giants have had some embarrassing losses to teams with athletic quarterbacks. Last Monday, RGIII and the Washington Redskins torched Big Blue for 207 rushing yards. The Giants were unable to find the football against the triple option and it resulted in a 17-16 loss. However, several members of the Giants defense are excited to play against a quarterback this weekend that won't be the fastest player on the field.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is obviously an incredible talent. His ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly in the pocket can neutralize a pass rush and put pressure on the secondary to stop his bevy of weapons at tight end and wide receiver. However, defensive end Jason-Pierre Paul said he would much rather face the Super Bowl XLIV MVP then the 'Skins' rookie phenom.
“We already know what he’s capable of, and his targets and stuff, so we’ll go out there and play some great football,” Pierre-Paul said of Brees. “And we ain’t gotta worry about the option.”
Brees may be capable of more than the Giants are bargaining for this weekend. Despite the Saints' 5-7 record, Brees has thrown for 3,674 yards and 31 touchdowns through 11 games. By comparison, Eli Manning has thrown for 3,170 yards this season and 16 touchdowns. The difference in these statistics are likely due to the fact that the Saints have one of the league's worst rushing attacks, while the Giants are willing to hand the ball off to Ahmad Bradshaw over 20 times per game. Bress has attempted 65 more passes than Manning this season." Read more...
BIG BLUE VIEW
Giants' Roster Power Rankings: Rating The Giants Freom 1 - 53
Excerpt: "Here are this week's New York Giants' roster power rankings. Really only minimal shuffling this week.
1. Eli Manning -- Can you think of a reason he shouldn't be here? LW: 1
2. Ahmad Bradshaw -- The guy just keeps doing things his fragile feet tell you he shouldn't be doing. LW: 3
3. Victor Cruz -- Made one big catch Monday, but dropped a ball over the middle. I hate to say it, but I'm starting to wonder if No. 80 is hearing footsteps going over the middle. LW: 3
4. Hakeem Nicks -- a soirt of 'blah' game on Monday for Nicks. LW: 4
5. Jason Pierre-Paul -- Will the All-Pro JPP from a year ago ever show up in 2012? He was a total non-factor against Washington and it's hard to keep saying it's because he gets extra attention from the opposing offense. He simply has to produce more. LW: 2
6. Antrel Rolle -- Maybe the best thing he did this week was to call out his teammates on Tuesday. LW: 67. Will Beatty -- A costly penalty Monday, but has to stay in this spot because of his overall contribution this season. LW: 7
8. Chase Blackburn -- It's not saying a whole lot -- or maybe it is saying a whole lot -- but he might have been the Giants' best defender on Monday. LW: 9
9. Linval Joseph -- The whole pulling a Redskins' player off a pile like he was a turkey leg was not Joseph's finest moment. He didn't play very well, either.LW: 8
10. Lawrence Tynes -- Yes, he missed a critical 43-yard field goal. I refuse, however, to blame Tynes when the snap by Zak DeOssie might have been the worst we've seen since, dare I say it, the days of Trey Junkin. LW: 10" Read more...
Kevin Gilbride: Wilson "Did OK"
Excerpt: "After running back André Brown was lost for the season with a broken leg, the thinking was that rookie David Wilson would have a larger role than the seven snaps he got in Monday night’s game, four of which were carries.
Instead, the coaching staff decided to stick with veteran Ahmad Bradshaw, who was showing the hot hand during Monday night’s 17-16 loss to the Redskins.
“He was doing great,” offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said of Bradshaw. “We were running the ball, and again, it was about as good of a performance as you’re ever going to get. You just wish you had more points to show for it. I was very pleased with the way we were able to run the ball.”
And what about Wilson, whom the coaches and players keep saying is making progress and getting closer to making more of a contribution on offense?
“I thought he did okay. He didn’t do anything special, but I thought he tried to run hard,” Gilbride said. “He got about three yards a carry, which is, you know, he didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t do anything special.”
Gilbride was asked about the lack of pass blocking opportunities given to the team’s first round draft pick and deferred on his answer.
“It’s just a matter of where it was played — the way the game played out. He just wasn’t in that much. So he didn’t get a lot of chances to run or pass it. Again, the other guy was doing very well,” he said." Read more...
THE RED ZONE.
Giants Gone Soft? Don't Tell Ahmad
Excerpt: "There are NFL fullbacks who go entire seasons without a single carry, backup quarterbacks who never take a live first-team practice rep, and fringe players who insist they enjoy being the guy who busts up a wedge on kickoffs.
And yet of all the things that don't make sense in football, the New York Giants' Ahmad Bradshaw is a different oddity: a sore-footed running back who runs only on game days.
Bradshaw is definitely not who defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was talking about Wednesday when he said the Giants, who are in a 1-3 slump, are sometimes too "soft." A day earlier, coach Tom Coughlin seemed intent on rattling the Giants' cages, too. Noting how his team is now clinging to a one-game lead in the NFC East, Coughlin looked ahead to the New Orleans Saints' visit Sunday to MetLife Stadium and said the Giants need to win their remaining four games to avoid any risk of missing the playoffs.
That won't be easy.
Atlanta, Baltimore and Philadelphia all lie ahead after the Saints. Though New Orleans isn't the same team since the bounty scandal cost it head coach Sean Payton for the season, the Saints have still won five of their last eight games after an 0-4 start. And they still have Drew Brees, who gashed the Giants for five touchdowns last season in the Saints' 49-24 win in the Superdome.
When Giants defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora was asked Thursday what he remembers about that game, Umenyiora said: "I remember going to get X-rays on my ankle. When I came back out they had already scored four or five TDs." Read more...
Osi Sees Nothing Easy About Stopping Drew Brees
Excerpt: "Osi Umenyiora doesn't think there is anything easy about preparing to defend against Drew Brees and the Saints' offense.
"I would never say that," Umenyiora said. "I'd never say there's anything easy about playing against him. He's one of the best quarterbacks in this league. We definitely have our work cut out for us."
Umenyiora disagreed with the notion that the Giants' defense will have an easier time -- as Jason Pierre-Paulput it -- with more traditional Saints offense than it did trying to figure out what the Redskins and Robert Griffin III were doing in their option read offense.
Pierre-Paul was saying the Giants should have an easier time from an assignment standpoint facing a more traditional offense than playing against Washington, which had the Giants on their heels.
"We don't have to play the option, but that's about it," Umenyiora said. "We still have a lot of work. They do a lot of different protections. The secondary has their work cut out for sure with all the stress that (Brees) puts out there. It's probably a tougher game physically than playing against Washington." Read more...
Wilson Garners Praise From Coaches
Excerpt: "He only had seven snaps on offense, but David Wilson earned high marks from the coaching staff for his performance Monday against Washington.
"The coaches said I did good and I read my blocks well," the rookie said.
Wilson, the team's No. 2 running back now that Andre Brown is lost for the season with a broken leg, is going to get more opportunities to showcase why the team selected him in the first round of this year's draft. He carried the ball four times for nines yard against the Redskins.
"I was kind of expecting more (plays) but really I didn't know what to expect," Wilson said. "I'm just glad to be involved."
Despite being one of three running backs taken in the first round of the draft, Wilson has barely made a difference on offense this year. With his fumble in the opening game and the emergence of Brown as a goal-line back, Wilson became the odd man out in the running back rotation. Coaches talked about him not being able to handle all aspects of the job, specifically pass protection." Read more...
Cruz, Eli See Big Things Ahead
Excerpt: "In the first seven games of the season, Giants wideout Victor Cruz had 50 receptions (7.1 per game) for 627 yards (89.6 per game) and seven touchdowns.
Over the past five games, Cruz has 18 receptions (3.6 per game) for 256 yards (51.2 per game) and one touchdown.
But Cruz thinks the offense is on the verge of a breakthrough, getting back to making big plays on a more regular basis.
"There were a couple of plays (against the Redskins) that if we hit those plays on Monday it probably changes the complexion of the game," Cruz said Wednesday. "We are almost there."
"Yeah, we are close," said quarterback Eli Manning. "Just missed Hakeem (Nicks) on one, just missed Victor on one. Hit a couple down the middle to Vic and Martellus (Bennett) and hit Vic on another one. We were able to get the ball downfield a little bit more which was nice, hit some big plays. Hopefully we can continue to do that and hit a few more." Read more...
Giant Collapse Would Stain Coughlin, Eli
Excerpt: "It wasn't supposed to be like this for the New York Giants, not this season. Those old problems about starting fast and struggling in the second half? Those were behind them, drowned under a wave of Super Bowl confetti on the floor of Lucas Oil Stadium one giddy night in early February. This season's team, we were told, had learned from the old mistakes and would find a way to overcome the pattern. They began November with three more wins than anyone else in the division, and it appeared as though they were right.
Yet, here the Giants sit, one game up with four to play and a December schedule that looks as friendly as a polar bear that's down to its last fish. Losers of three of their past four games, the defending Super Bowl champs find themselves in another late-season slugfest, needing to muscle up and play like the NFC East's clear No. 1 team if they're to claim its playoff spot. If they do, they'll enter the postseason as one of the NFC's scariest teams, bolstered by championship experience and recent memories of success against the rest of the teams in the field.
But if they don't -- if the slide continues and the Giants somehow fail to win this division in a season in which the Redskins and Cowboys have struggled so badly and the Eagles failed to post -- then it will be no one's fault but their own. And their leaders should shoulder as much blame as they got credit for last season's success.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning didn't court or revel in the accolades they received as the Giants rolled into and through the Super Bowl last season. Neither is that sort of man. But receive them they did, and the public debate that flowed into the early part of the offseason was about their chances to reach the Hall of Fame. Accolades don't come a lot more juicy than that, and Coughlin's and Manning's were well-earned. But a failure to build on them, rather than revert to the same kind of late-season behavior that used to raise questions about this coach and this quarterback, would be a missed opportunity.
Manning was being talked about this season as maybe the best quarterback in the league. He has clearly proved, during the course of two Super Bowl runs, that he's the guy you'd pick if you needed a quarterback in a big spot in the biggest of games. But the very best quarterbacks don't have wild swings of inconsistency. The very best ones steer their teams through full seasons without the kinds of tough stretches that take their playoff chances from solid to shaky over the course of a month. Manning's self-professed mission this season was to pilot a Giants team that didn't have to stop everybody's hearts before coming through in the end. While his team has looked like one of the best in the league in games against the 49ers, Packers and a few others, it is wobbling in a way that requires its on-field leader to play better than he has.
Coughlin is obviously a great coach, but nobody's perfect. And one of Coughlin's imperfections appears to be that his teams arrive at every December still needing the right kind of kick in the pants. Last season, he delivered it, hitting exactly the right note in the week following a home loss to the Redskins that dropped the Giants to 7-7. He went positive on a team that was expecting a tongue-lashing. He talked up opportunity and appreciation of circumstances. He made his players feel good about themselves at a time when they weren't so inclined. It worked, and as I have written here many times, the Giants' Super Bowl run was the residue of masterful Coughlin coaching." Read more...
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