NFC East: New York Giants

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
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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
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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.

Cardinals vs. Giants preview

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
8:00
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The New York Giants were one of the NFL's most disappointing teams in 2013, while the Arizona Cardinals ranked among its most pleasant surprises. Those trends continued into 2014, as the Giants opened with a blowout loss in Detroit and the Cardinals came back to beat the Chargers on "Monday Night Football."

These two teams meet Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, the home opener for the Giants and the first road game of the year for the Cardinals, who have to cross a couple of time zones and play in the early time slot Sunday. NFL Nation Giants reporter Dan Graziano and Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss are here with a preview.

Graziano: Josh, I was all set to bill this Eli Manning-Carson Palmer matchup as InterceptionFest 2014, but then I looked at the box score from Monday night and saw Palmer didn't throw any. Is this a typo? Or are things clicking on offense in Arizona? (And if it's the latter, please fill Giants fans in on what that looks like.)

Weinfuss: No, that's not a typo. He didn't throw a pick. But I think we could bill it as ShouldBeInterceptionFest 2014. I bet we can make some pretty cool T-shirts.

Palmer got lucky on a couple passes that should've been picked off, and those misses by San Diego essentially prevented the Chargers from blowing out Arizona. The Cardinals' offense isn't exactly clicking -- although it's probably better than the Giants' is at this point -- but when all the cylinders get fired, it's better than it has been. A lot of what the Cards showed on Monday night looked too much like last season, when Palmer threw 22 interceptions, the second most in the NFC behind Manning. Palmer didn't go through his progressions for much of the first three quarters, which led to Larry Fitzgerald not getting targeted for the first three quarters for the first time in his career. The offense came alive, however, in the final quarter thanks to some nifty footwork by Palmer -- something rarely seen around these parts. The offense looked good late but was far from clicking.

The 341 passing yards the Giants gave up Monday is a hefty number. Was that a product of New York's secondary not playing well and not being able to manage all of Detroit's options? Or was it just that Matthew Stafford played lights out? Like the Lions, the Cardinals have a boatload of offensive weapons. Could Arizona be in for a big passing day against the Giants?

Graziano: Stafford played out of his mind, but the Giants' defensive performance did raise some concerns that linger into this week. Cornerback was supposed to be the strength of their team, and on paper it is, with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond, Zack Bowman and Trumaine McBride. But their plans for how to deploy all of those corners seemed a bit disorganized and not fully formed Monday night. Sometimes they wanted to single Rodgers-Cromartie on Calvin Johnson. Other times they didn't. And Rodgers-Cromartie didn't always seem to know which it was.

They may need to find a way to simplify their coverages, and especially to do more in zone, because from what I can tell it's not easy to pick your poison with this Arizona receiving corps. Twitter was abuzz all Monday night about Fitzgerald not getting any targets until the fourth quarter. But it's not as though those young wideouts are chopped liver, right?

Weinfuss: Let me just say this first: I'm not a huge fan of chopped liver. But you're right, third-year wide receiver Michael Floyd and rookie John Brown aren't minced meat. Floyd had 119 yards on just five catches in the season opener and is tough to defend for most corners and safeties because of his combination of size and speed. And he's learned from Fitzgerald how to use his body to get separation between himself and the ball. Floyd is quickly becoming one of Palmer's favorite targets, especially on deep passes because he can go up and make catches above defensive backs.

As for Brown, don't blink or you'll miss him. He's fast and shifty, which he showed during his 13-yard game-winning touchdown run against the Chargers. What makes Brown even more dangerous is playing for an offensive mastermind like Bruce Arians. There's a lot of hype for Brown -- and it's only been one week -- but he's been handling it so far.

So much has been made about the Giants' new offense, and by the looks of it Monday night with less than 200 total yards, it's resembling the Cardinals of 2013 in terms of not fully understanding a new scheme to start the season. How long do you think it'll take the G-men -- does anyone in New York call them that? -- to grasp the new offense and start flourishing in it?

Graziano: People in New York sometimes call them the G-men, but right now they're calling them things that aren't quite that nice.

I don't think it's a matter of grasping the offense. There's a little of that going on, but the Giants' biggest problem is one of personnel. They were hoping first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. would be one of their starting receivers on the outside, with Rueben Randle on the other side and Victor Cruz in the slot. But Beckham missed all of training camp and is still out with a hamstring injury, so they're starting the somewhat overmatched Jerrel Jernigan in Beckham's spot, and teams seem to be devoting extra coverage to Cruz, which makes sense.

They have no reliable option at tight end, and they didn't run the ball well in the opener with Rashad Jennings. It's an underwhelming group of offensive players around Manning, and add in the troubles the offensive line is having in pass protection and you have an offense that wouldn't be able to do much with any scheme. This is obviously going to be a problem all year. If you're counting on a rookie who's never even practiced in the NFL to come in and save your season, you're not in the best shape.

This week looks like another tough test for that undermanned Giants offense, no? I thought Arizona's defense would struggle due to all of the personnel losses, but it looked awfully tough against San Diego. Do the Cardinals have a chance to repeat last season's performance on D?

Weinfuss: By the looks of how the defense played Monday, I think the short answer is yes, it's possible to post a repeat performance. However, it'll be tougher to be that good and that consistent this season because of those personnel problems you mentioned. Add in the recent injuries to defensive tackle Frostee Rucker, who was already replacing the injured Darnell Dockett, and to John Abraham, who has left the team following his latest concussion, and the defense is as thin as it's ever been.

But with Calais Campbell overpowering people in the middle of the line, Matt Shaughnessy still playing at a high level and veteran linebacker Larry Foote looking like he's 24 instead of 34, there's hope that this defense can has the long haul in it. What could be its saving grace this season is the secondary, which is as good as it's ever been in Arizona. Cornerback Patrick Peterson now has another top-flight corner across from him in Antonio Cromartie, which allows the defense to be more flexible on coverages.

The Cardinals' No. 1 rush defense from a year ago doesn't appear to have lost a step, holding San Diego to 52 yards. The Giants had 53 last week. How much of the Giants' offensive scheme is predicated on their running game?

Graziano: After Monday night's loss, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said that the inability to run the ball ranked with the pass protection as his top concern. The passing game remains a work in progress, as we've discussed here, so the Giants would like to be able to establish the run and operate the offense through Jennings and rookie running back Andre Williams. They will not go away from this plan, as they believe it to be their only hope.

Coughlin has said more than once that the inability to run the ball last year deprived the offense of balance and led to the league-leading 40 turnovers, so he and his coaching staff are determined to be able to run the ball reliably in 2014. They spent good money on Jennings in free agency and drafted Williams in the fourth round (which is high for a running back these days!), and they will continue to feed them the ball. But, man, you're right, things don't get any easier with these defensive fronts they're facing early in the season -- Detroit last week, Arizona this week, Houston next week. Life's tough in the big city.

Anyway, thanks, Josh. This was fun. Travel safe and I'll see you Sunday at MetLife.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul came out of Monday night's game briefly with a neck/shoulder injury, but he returned and finished the game. The Giants had some concern that the problem might continue into this week, but so far it has not. Pierre-Paul practiced with the team in full Wednesday and said afterwards that he had no limitations.

Pierre-Paul
"I feel good," Pierre-Paul said. "I'll be out there. Full go."

Not participating in practice were wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), offensive lineman James Brewer (back), defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (ankle), punter Steve Weatherford (ankle), linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring) and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (hip).

The Weatherford, Kennard and Jenkins injuries all happened in Monday's game. Jenkins said he expects to play Sunday but couldn't be sure he'd practice Thursday. If he can't go Sunday, that would leave the Giants very thin at defensive tackle assuming Kuhn is still out.

Kennard said he pulled his right hamstring on the first defensive snap of the game (and of his NFL career) when he caught his cleat on the turf. He has no idea when they'll let him practice.

Weatherford got good news on his sprained ankle. He's got some torn ligaments but won't need surgery, and he's not ruling out the chance he can be on the field Sunday.

Beckham fielded some punts at the beginning of practice, which he didn't do last week, but he didn't run with them and continued to work off to the side while the team practiced.
Bruce Arians brought a new offense with him when he took over as Arizona Cardinals coach last year, and it took a while for veteran quarterback Carson Palmer to master it. So when Arians watches New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning right now, he sees a familiar sight -- a veteran going through growing pains as he works to learn a new offense.

Manning
"I don't think there's any doubt," said Arians, whose Cardinals visit the Giants at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. "It's very hard for somebody to change after they've been in a system. I did this with Carson Palmer last year. He'd been in the same system pretty much nine years and he has ideas and you're trying to reprogram. It's easier getting a rookie and brainwashing him than it is to take a veteran and change him totally into a new system."

The Giants' offense looked poor throughout the preseason and did again in racking up only 197 yards in a season-opening loss in Detroit on Monday night. Manning and the passing game have struggled so badly to get on track that wide receiver Victor Cruz is publicly petitioning for more targets. The problems range from pass protection up front to Manning's continued struggles with the footwork and timing on which new coordinator Ben McAdoo's West Coast scheme is based. And it's possible it's going to be a long time before it looks the way they want it to look.

"I try never to judge a quarterback in a new offense until Week 8," Arians said. "Because it just takes so much time, and you see the same defense all through OTAs and all of training camp. Now, all of a sudden you're seeing a different defense every week and a different game plan, and I think it takes a while to get through a number of different-style clubs and swing it back and really see the improvement in the second half of the season."

That's potentially bad news for a Giants team that started 0-6 last year and was hoping to get off to a faster start this year. But Arians' point is that it takes time, as he saw last year when he had to teach his own scheme to Palmer.

"It was Week 8 for us last year," Arians said. "That's when, all of a sudden, you could see the guys around him start to get it and play faster and play better. Instead of waiting to see a guy come open, he was throwing guys open. When you can throw the ball on time, trust the receiver is going to be there, everything happens a second or a second and a half faster. And that's a lot of time when you're talking about the passing game."

No rest for DRC, Giants cornerbacks

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
3:00
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Here's an examination of one thing the New York Giants must do after their season-opening loss to the Lions in Detroit:

Rodgers-Cromartie
The Giants' plan Monday night was to shadow the Lions' top wide receiver, Calvin Johnson, with their top cornerback, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They offered Rodgers-Cromartie safety help on some plays but asked him to single-cover the game's best wideout on others. This is why they signed Rodgers-Cromartie believing they could use him this way. The results, as you know by now, were not positive, as Johnson caught seven passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

Johnson is the toughest test there is, so there's no reason to think the Giants will move away from that "shadow the best WR" plan with Rodgers-Cromartie. But the next opponent on the Giants' schedule is the Arizona Cardinals, and they bring with them a talented corps of wide receivers without an obvious top candidate for the honor of "best."

Is it veteran Larry Fitzgerald, who's in the top 30 in NFL history in catches and receiving yards? Is it the emerging Michael Floyd, who had five catches for 119 yards in Arizona's opener late Monday night and was targeted seven times versus Fitzgerald's four? Could it even be electric rookie John Brown, who also saw more targets Monday (five) than Fitzgerald and caught the game-winning, 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter?

My guess is Floyd will be Rodgers-Cromartie's man if the Giants go the same way they did in Week 1. But the broader point here is the Giants need to be open to rethinking their coverage plan with their cornerbacks.

As my colleague Herm Edwards is fond of saying on air, "A plan that can't be changed is a bad plan." The Giants might have signed Rodgers-Cromartie under the belief he was a shutdown corner who could match up with top wide receivers, but the fact is he has not been that, consistently, throughout his career. Prince Amukamara showed some good things Monday night and remains a quality option, as does slot corner Walter Thurmond. The Giants obviously need to play better in zone coverage than they did Monday.

Cornerback is the strongest position group the Giants have, on paper, but it didn't look very strong Monday night. They might need to make some adjustments to the way they're deploying these guys if they want to get the best out of them the rest of the way.
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DETROIT -- The worst part for the New York Giants was that they didn't have anything they could feel good about. Week 1 is supposed to be about optimism and looking forward with hope. But after a 35-14 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Monday night, the Giants couldn't come up with anything positive to say about their performance.

"No excuses. We played very poorly," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "We don't have a lot to be proud of here. It was a nightmare performance."

Coughlin wasn't happy about the pass protection, as the Lions registered two sacks and nine hits of Giants quarterback Eli Manning. He was unhappy about a running game that gained 53 yards on 22 carries. He was upset about the breakdowns in pass coverage that allowed Calvin Johnson to perform like the video-game version of himself to the tune of seven catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns, and that allowed Golden Tate to gain 44 yards on a key third-and-11. He was unhappy about Manning's two interceptions and the inability of receivers Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle to make plays.

Everybody was unhappy. We even asked defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, who had a good game stopping the run, whether he felt good about that at least. He did not.

"Right now, I don't feel like I did a good job of anything," Jenkins said. "I feel like we could have made it a lot easier on our secondary if we'd played better up front."

Safety Antrel Rolle said "there definitely wasn't enough fight" in his team in its first game of the season. And after the mess they made of last season, all of the changes they made in the offseason and the grief they took from outside critics in the preseason, you would have thought that wouldn't be a problem.

Instead, those who endured last year's 0-6 start seemed to be experiencing a sick and familiar feeling as they dressed and packed and headed for the plane.

"We shouldn't be talking right now about comparing the way we lost to last year," Jenkins said. "We should be talking about what we learned from last year, and how that made us better."

But they weren't, and the reason was the familiarity of the overmatched feeling they felt on the field. The Lions came at them with star players at wide receiver, running back, defensive line and, of course, quarterback. The Giants looked like a patchwork science project of a team whose pieces aren't good enough on their own to scare anyone and don't yet fit together in any kind of productive way.

"How are guys that you don't know going to respond to adversity now?" linebacker and newly minted team captain Jon Beason asked. "We have a new group of guys here. Owning up to what you did wrong is the first step, and it's an important one."

Tuesday and Wednesday aren't going to be fun days for the Giants as they review what went on in their first game of the season. To make sure the feeling doesn't repeat itself, they must correct the mistakes and start playing better. The long-term problem is that they may not have enough quality players on this roster to allow them to do that. The short-term problem is that Monday night's opener didn't offer any evidence to the contrary.
DETROIT -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the New York Giants' 35-14 loss to the Lions:
  • Giants coach Tom Coughlin doesn't sugarcoat. "No excuses," he said. "We played very poorly. We don't have a lot to be proud of here. It was a nightmare performance." Coughlin cited the pass protection and the lack of productivity by the run game as his top two concerns and told his team it was in for a tough, short week of preparation for Sunday's game against the Cardinals.
  • Weatherford
    Weatherford
  • Punter Steve Weatherford had a walking boot on his left foot and said he would have an MRI on his injured ankle Tuesday. Weatherford was hit on a punt early in the game and stayed in to continue punting, but he said he "had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to punt when I couldn't accelerate through the ball." Obviously, the Giants will have to bring in someone else if Weatherford's injury is serious.
  • The Giants' defensive game plan called for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to shadow Lions top wideout Calvin Johnson all game. Johnson had seven catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns. "He got behind the defense and made a play," Rodgers-Cromartie said of the 67-yard play that began the night's scoring. "I can't really speak on that." My sense was that Rodgers-Cromartie thought he had help on the play and didn't want to burn a teammate by saying it.

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
10:07
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DETROIT -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 35-14 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

What it means: As we told you going into the season, the Giants' offense is not a finished product. Not even close. But the problems go well beyond whether they're picking up offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's new schemes. The Giants' problems are about personnel. The offensive line isn't good enough. They don't have enough at wide receiver, as Victor Cruz is easily erased from the game and Jerrel Jernigan and Rueben Randle aren't reliable. They have no dynamic tight end. And they didn't run the ball especially well Monday, either. Eli Manning's interceptions were bad, especially the second one, but the quality of the group around him needs to improve.

Stock Watch: The new Giants' secondary, DOWN. Yes, I know Calvin Johnson makes everybody look bad, but the breakdowns in the zones were terrible, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made way too many mistakes, letting Johnson go into empty space on the first touchdown and letting Golden Tate get past him for a critical 44-yard catch on third down in the second half. The Giants aren't good enough on offense to allow for a leaky secondary. This is supposed to be the strength of the team, but it was a weakness Monday.

Line must improve: Pass protection was Manning's biggest problem last year, was a major issue in the preseason and was terrible again Monday night. Left tackle Will Beatty looks lost, and he and the rest of the offensive line need to figure out some things in a hurry if the Giants are to avoid a repeat of last year's offensive crater.

Game ball: Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. The one bright spot, I thought, was the Giants' run defense, led by the play of the beefy defensive tackles on the inside. Especially with only three of them active for the game, Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins and Mike Patterson had to handle a lot of the load and held up well, limiting a talented Detroit running game to 76 yards on 30 carries. Jenkins made the plays that stood out most to me, so I pick him.

What's next: The Giants host the Arizona Cardinals at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
DETROIT -- Middle linebacker Jon Beason, who missed all of training camp while rehabbing a foot injury, will start for the New York Giants in their season opener Monday night against the Lions in Detroit.

Beason
Beason was not listed among the inactive players when they were announced an hour and a half before the game. It had been expected that he would start and play after he made it through a week of practice last week. The question becomes how much Beason will be able to play without having had a training camp. It's unlikely he'll play as many snaps as he would if he were fully healthy and coming off a normal preseason. But the Giants are comfortable if they have to move starting strongside linebacker Jameel McClain inside and play rookie Devon Kennard on the strong side.

There were a couple of surprises on the inactives list. First of all, rookie defensive tackle Jay Bromley is inactive. I had thought Bromley would be up as a fourth defensive tackle since Markus Kuhn is out with a shoulder injury, but apparently he's not ready. That leaves the Giants with only three true defensive tackles for what they would normally prefer to be a four-man rotation -- Johnathan Hankins, Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson. The Giants do use defensive ends such as Robert Ayers, Mathias Kiwanuka and even Jason Pierre-Paul on occasion as defensive tackles on passing downs, and it's possible one of those guys could see more snaps than usual on the inside.

Also inactive are offensive linemen Charles Brown (shoulder), James Brewer (back) and Adam Snyder, who was just signed this week. That leaves Dallas Reynolds and Brandon Mosley as the only two backup offensive linemen, and Mosley's missed a lot of practice time recently with a back injury. John Jerry is starting in Mosley's place at right guard and may have just taken over that job due to Mosley's injury anyway. So an injury to one of the starting offensive linemen during Monday's game could be a huge problem.

The full list of inactives:

WR Odell Beckham Jr.

DT Markus Kuhn

OT Charles Brown

OL James Brewer

OL Adam Snyder

DT Jay Bromley

DE Kerry Wynn
The New York Giants announced Saturday that rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (shoulder) and offensive lineman James Brewer (back) are all officially out of Monday Night's regular-season opener in Detroit due to their injuries.

None of that is a surprise, since the injuries kept those players from practicing all week and they're not prepared to play even if they were to be healthy enough by Monday. Beckham hasn't had a full practice since organized team activities due to hamstring problems and is likely still at least a few weeks away from playing. In his place, Jerrel Jernigan is likely to play on the outside when the Giants are in their three-receiver sets. Victor Cruz would be in the slot and Rueben Randle on the outside opposite Jernigan.

Kuhn's absence shortens the defensive tackle rotation and could mean more plays than originally anticipated for third-round rookie Jay Bromley behind starters Johnathan Hankins and Cullen Jenkins and reserve Mike Patterson. The Giants' preference is to rotate four at that position.

Brewer was unlikely to see action even if healthy, but his absence makes it more likely that the Giants would turn to newly-signed offensive lineman Adam Snyder if they had an injury to a starter on the offensive line.

Linebacker Jon Beason (foot), tackle Charles Brown (shoulder) and guard Brandon Mosley (back) all are listed as probable for the game. I'd expect Beason to start at middle linebacker, but likely not to handle a full starter's workload. He missed all of training camp while rehabbing his foot injury from June and only returned to practice last week. Mosley was the starting right guard in camp but may have lost that job to John Jerry, who's more likely to start at right guard Monday at this point.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The member of the New York Giants under the most scrutiny Monday night will not even be wearing a uniform.

Yes, we're all anxious to see Eli Manning complete a bunch of passes (and not throw any interceptions), to see if the offensive line can hold up and if the tight ends can provide anything at all.

But the man guiding Manning, the O-line and everyone else will be 37-year-old Ben McAdoo, a new offensive coordinator calling plays for the first time.

[+] EnlargeBen McAdoo
AP Photo/Seth WenigNew York Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo knows his job comes with heavy scrutiny.
The spotlight has been on McAdoo since the Giants hired him in January to fix a unit that fell on its face in 2013. But it has quickly intensified in the past month as the revamped offense struggled to get anything going in five preseason games, at least when the starters were on the field.

McAdoo was made available to reporters at the Giants' practice facility on Friday, and he alternated between sidestepping questions about his unit's poor performance and expressing confidence in the players and himself.

"I feel that we’ve made progress," McAdoo said early in the five-minute session. "We’re making progress, we’re starting to click in practice, we’re getting some chemistry going, and we just need to carry it over to game day."

But when asked why the team wasn't been able to carry it over to game day in the preseason, McAdoo said, "Preseason’s over. We had two quality days of work here this week, and we need to carry that over to Monday night."

Some fans are holding out hope the Giants were just being coy in the preseason, not wanting to unveil most of their new playbook until the games really count.

Well, they might be right, or they might be wrong -- no answers were forthcoming Friday.

When asked if the offense will look very different against the Lions, McAdoo's response was, "We’re gonna prepare to go out and play well and win the game."

OK, then.

What we did learn the past two days is that McAdoo's boss, among others, has confidence in him -- either that, or he's lying through his teeth.

"Ben McAdoo is a solid, solid football coach that knows what he is talking about," head coach Tom Coughlin said Thursday. "[He] has an excellent system, applies himself every day, very smart, we are doing OK there."

Some key offensive players spoke highly of McAdoo on Friday, too.

"I think so far, at least in the preseason, he's done a really good job of calling good calls and calling good things to get us in the right place at the right time," wide receiver Victor Cruz said. "It's just a matter of executing those things properly and getting the ball to the playmakers and us making plays."

"He's very consistent in his message," running back Rashad Jennings said. "He sees everybody as players -- he doesn't see us as individuals -- he treats everybody the same, and that's something that we respect."

Even McAdoo's counterpart on defense, coordinator Perry Fewell, raved about McAdoo.

"I'm Ben's champion," Fewell said. "We as a staff have a lot of confidence in him. He's ready for the position, he's built for the position. He's in New York, and there's a lot of expectations here."

That's one thing McAdoo did admit on Friday -- he knows the pressure is on.

"I knew what I signed up for when I signed a contract [here]," McAdoo said. "[I'll] never back down from that. I’m excited. I look forward to it."

Pugh: 'Gotta have a chip on your shoulder'

September, 5, 2014
Sep 5
10:30
AM ET
Many prognosticators have declared the New York Giants non-contenders for the 2014 season. But starting right tackle Justin Pugh says the doubters should pump the brakes.

Ryan
Pugh
Appearing on "ESPN New York Now with Ryan Ruocco" on 98.7 FM, the second-year lineman believes that, despite a miserable showing by the first-team offense in five preseason games, the Giants are closer to contention than some experts believe.

Coming off a season in which miscommunication contributed to the Giants' league-leading 40 turnovers, Pugh discussed the importance of getting players on the same page. "If we have 10 guys doing the right thing, and one guy is off by a foot or misses something -- misses a signal or doesn't block the right guy -- that could end the play, make it a negative play. It's all about getting 11 guys doing the same thing," he said.

With all of the issues the Giants have faced this preseason -- from injuries to learning a new offense -- Pugh believes the least of their concerns should be quarterback Eli Manning. He talked up Manning's ability to quickly forget bad plays and get back on the field.

"He never lets anything get him down," he said. "He'll always bounce back, and he's got two rings that he can just put on the table and let you see if you want that assurance that he can get it done in the big games."

While many analysts have tabbed Philadelphia to repeat as NFC East champs, Pugh urges caution, noting how unpredictable the division has been in recent years. In each of the past two years, the eventual champ recovered from .500 or sub-.500 starts with second-half surges. "I really think it's gonna come down to the second half of the season," Pugh said. "You gotta win those division games."

As for the Giants' naysayers, Pugh acknowledged they provide motivation. "If you ever go into the season, and people predict you to be in the bottom half of the league, you've gotta have a chip on your shoulder," he said. "We gotta go out there and start proving people wrong."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- He is a happy family man, fabulously wealthy and a two-time winner of the Super Bowl. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has no need to care about what people say or think about him.

Manning
Yet it does bother Manning a bit that, after all he's done, the narrative going into the 2014 season is about what he still has to prove. Manning had a rotten year in 2013, and he's not denying that. He just would like everyone to know he's as disappointed about it as they are.

"I think, from a personal standpoint, I definitely want to go out there and play well," Manning said after Giants practice Thursday. "I don't like losing football games. I don't like having bad games. That's tough on me and it's tough on the team."

Manning threw 27 interceptions last season, a career-high and league-leading total. He's struggled this preseason for a number of reasons, including the new offense the Giants are installing, his still-shaky pass protection and questionable depth at the wide receiver and tight end positions. Through it all, he's maintained his faith that the Giants will get things figured out. And now that the games will count, he's ready to play one.

"I'm anxious to get playing," Manning said. "I'm anxious to start the season and I'm excited to get back into a season where you're competing and things are real."

The Giants open the 2014 regular season Monday Night in Detroit against the Lions. While the offense may not be all the way in place around him, Manning appears to those around him to be driven to make it work.

"He's focused, he's focused, he's focused. It's serious business for him," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "To come back and have a good, solid year is his goal and all of our goals."

Coughlin said he could see the focus and determination in Manning's face this summer. But in typical Manning fashion, the quarterback shrugged off the notion that anything was different from past summers.

"Same focus as ever," Manning said. "I would hope he'd think I'd be focused right now."

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