NFL Team Report - New York Giants - INSIDE SLANT
Sidelined from practice until Friday due to concussion symptoms, Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara said he has been "studying like crazy" to prepare for the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
"The mental reps, just being out there really helped, having the extra meetings with (secondary) coach (Peter Giunta) really helped a lot and then just having extra player meetings," Amukamara said. "Last year for the Eagles game it didn't look like I was going to play and I didn't really practice until the last day like this and I had a pretty good game. It's a different year and a different caliber of offense. I feel like I'm ready though."
Amukamara was passed concussion tests Friday and is officially listed as questionable. He faces a daunting task in the Broncos' high-powered passing game after getting in only limited on-field work this week.
"It's a great challenge. Peyton (Manning) is a great quarterback," Amukamara said. "My job when I was hurt was to still be engaged and that's what I was... I was getting all the mental reps on the practice field and being engaged in meetings. I'm glad I did that and I'm glad I didn't take a day off."
--The New York Giants defense would like to remind everyone that there are 16 games in a NFL season and that the outcome of the opener is not necessarily an indication of how a team's season is going to go.
That certainly sounds like the correct position to take after not only their own miserable showing against the Dallas Cowboys, but also seeing quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos shred the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens' defense to the tune of 462 yards and a league-tying seven touchdown passes, a performance good enough to clinch Manning's record-breaking 24th AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Significantly, the same Manning and Broncos the Giants faced next.
"This game is a week-to-week performance game and yesterday was yesterday," said Giants safety Antrel Rolle, who showed up on Friday's injury report as questionable with a groin injury but insists he's playing. "That was last week. We all know what Peyton brings to the table -- one of the best quarterbacks to play the game, true Hall of Famer."
That's why Rolle doesn't want anyone mistaking the Giants' respect for Manning as fear.
"At the same time, (Manning's opening night performance) doesn't fear us. We all put on our pants the same way. We're going to go out there, we're going to play defense the way we know how to play defense."
Despite losing 36-31 to the Cowboys, the Giants defense actually didn't do that poorly in their 2013 season debut. The run defense limited Dallas to just 87 yards on 23 carries, and more importantly, held receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, and tight end Jason Witten to no more than 72 receiving yards a piece.
That performance is what Rolle is hoping the Giants will use as a foundation as they prepare for Peyton manning's Broncos, who had two 100-yard receivers in Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas.
"We just have to play our best football and make sure as a defense, we continue to grow, continue to get on the same page at the same time, because we know Peyton is going to have a lot coming our way," Rolle said.
According to Rolle, the key for the Giants defense, will be to not let Manning dictate the tempo of the game.
"You have to do things to make him uncomfortable," he said. "You have to rush him, you have to get some hits on him--Peyton doesn't like to be hit, that's one thing I'm sure of.
"We go out there and play against him as we play any other quarterback. This is no time for fear and no one on the defense is going to fear Peyton because we're going to go after him as we do any other quarterback," he added.
SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting. The series is tied, 5-5, but the Giants are 4-1 when they have hosted Denver. The two teams have also met once in the post season, a 39-20 Giants' win in Super Bowl XXI. In their regular season meeting on Thanksgiving night in 2009, the Broncos topped the Giants, 26-6.
NFL Team Report - New York Giants - NOTES, QUOTES
--After having a few days to recover mentally from his embarrassing two-fumble performance in the season opener, running back David Wilson is trying to look ahead toward improving.
"It was a tough loss and I definitely want to do things to help my team and not hurt my team, so I'm just moving forward from that point and learning from my mistakes, and am looking forward to getting a win this week and getting things back in a positive direction."
Wilson noted that head coach Tom Coughlin was constantly yelling reminders as to how he wanted the ball handled during Wednesday's practice..
"He wants to fix it with the whole team," Wilson said. "He kept saying 'high and tight' and keep two hands on the ball in certain situations. He's doing his part and we have to do our part."
Moving forward, Wilson said that he's going to not let the chance of fumbling affect his play because he doesn't want it to affect what he has to do out there.
"Moving forward, you can think about it too much and let it hurt your play," he said. "You can't let it affect your game and let it slow you down, tie your feet up, and now you're not thinking about making plays; instead you're thinking about holding onto the ball and now you're standing in the same spot."
However Wilson did admit that he's trying to get used to putting two hand s on the ball when in traffic, something he proudly reported he was able to do during Wednesday's practice.
"I'm just moving forward and trying to help my team. Fumbles have to be eliminated so that's something I'm working hard to do."
--If quarterback Eli Manning is experiencing any sentimental feelings about this week's game potentially being the last time his team will face big brother Peyton's team, he's done a good job of keeping those feelings to himself.
"I think the whole thing about us is about improving our team," said head coach Tom Coughlin. "My concern right now is our team and we'll certainly have great respect for the Broncos as we get started with them. We need to improve our team and then move forward to approach the next opponent. I don't think Eli thinks any differently."
--DE Jason Pierre-Paul told reporters that he played in 52 snaps in the regular season opener, his first football action since having back surgery to repair a herniated disc in June. And how did he think he did?
"Terrible," he said. "I expect more from myself this week."
Pierre-Paul finished the game with one tackle, one sack for minus 11 yards, on tackle for a loss and one quarterback hit.
--This week's game between the Manning brothers will mark the first time in NFL history that the opposing starting quarterbacks will have each thrown for at least 400 yards in the previous week.
Last week in a 49-27 win over Baltimore, Peyton Manning went 27 of 42 for 462 yards and an NFL-record tying seven touchdowns and no interceptions
Eli Manning, meanwhile, fell to the Dallas Cowboys 36-31 despite throwing for for 450 yards and four touchdowns.
--Quick quiz: what does former Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle have in common with Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning?
The answer is that both are the only players in history to throw seven touchdown passes without an interception in a game. Tittle accomplished the feat on Oct. 28, 1962.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7 - Number of touchdown passes thrown by the Manning brothers, whose teams square off against each other this weekend, in opening day action. Eli Manning threw four in the Giants 36-31 loss against the Cowboys; Peyton Manning threw a league-tying seven in Denver's 49-27 win over the Ravens.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "These are the coaches I want to play for and I wanted to come back with my teammates. This is the place I love most." -- RB Brandon Jacobs, who re-signed with the Giants on Tuesday.
NFL Team Report - New York Giants - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The addition of running back Brandon Jacobs has people wondering if David Wilson is headed to the bench after losing two fumbles in the season opener.
While head coach Tom Coughlin wouldn't confirm what the plan was for Wilson on Sunday, he reiterated that the team needs the young man in the lineup.
"As I've said many times, we need him. He's necessary. He's going to have to overcome this issue," Coughlin said.
At the same time, the coach realizes that defenses are going to be targeting Wilson until he adjusts his technique.
"He's a marked man, so he's really going to have to overcome it."
Jacobs, who hasn't played much football since he was with the Giants for Super Bowl XLVI, will likely serve as a blocking back on passing days, and could also see some snaps on the goal line and short yardage situations depending on how things go for him in practice.
Otherwise, Da'Rel Scott, whom Coughlin played well in the regular season opener save for his botched screen pass reception, could be in line for a larger role on Sunday if the knee injury he suffered in practice on Wednesday isn't serious.
"I think he played pretty well the other night," Coughlin said of Scott. "Obviously it wasn't perfect, but he did play pretty well the other night and he did do some of the things that he needed to do under those circumstances that helped us at least get in position."
Meanwhile, Coughlin expressed some concern about his linebackers, who could be without Dan Connor, their starting middle linebacker, who is trying to rehab from his second burner in as many games, but who didn't practice on Wednesday.
"There's a concern because of the numbers," said Coughlin, referencing the four healthy linebackers currently on the active roster. "We've added a young man (Emmanuel Acho) to our practice squad, so we'll see how that goes."
The focus, then sounds like it will be on preparing the foursome of Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger, Keith Rivers, and Jacquian Williams this week in practice.
"If we have four people ready to play under the circumstances that we end up in and against the personnel we're going to face, then in all likelihood, I think we'll have a chance to be in decent shape," Coughlin said.
--CB Prince Amukamara (concussion) was listed as questionable after returning to full practice Friday for the first time this week.
--C David Baas (knee) is optimistic about playing on Sunday after being able to practice on a limited basis for two days. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride hinted that if Baas was medically cleared to go, he would be an option. Baas was listed as probable Friday.
--LB Dan Connor (neck) was placed on injured reserve Thursday. Connor was on his second burner in as many weeks and he had been aggressively trying to rehab the injury in order to speed up his return to the field.
--RB Da'Rel Scott (knee) was not limited Friday, two days after injuring his knee. Tests on Scott's knee reportedly showed no structural damage and if the third-year running back does not experience any issues with swelling, he's expected to be available for spot duty on Sunday. He's listed as probable.
--OL David Diehl (thumb) did not practice and is still at least another three weeks away from returning following thumb surgery.
--DE Damontre Moore (shoulder) was limited in Friday's practice and is questionable.
--TE Adrien Robinson (foot) did not practice on Friday and has been ruled out.
--S Antrel Rolle was added to Friday's injury report as questionable with a groin injury.
GAME PLAN: There are NFL quarterbacks, and then there is Broncos signal caller Peyton Manning, who is the heart and soul of the offense.
When Manning is given the royal treatment in the pocket and allowed to work at his own pace, he has proven that he can annihilate a defense.
That's why the Giants must find a way to disrupt Manning's rhythm, for when he can't operate the way he wants, he becomes easier to defend.
The problem though is that the Giants have to be selective with their blitzes because if they keep throwing pressure at Manning, he will make them pay.
That's why the Giants will likely work extra hard this week on disguising their coverage to keep Manning off balance, and will place a heavy reliance on the front four to constantly collapsing the pocket and forcing Manning to operate on the Giants terms rather than his own.
If the Giants can do that successfully and win their one-on-one matchups in the back end, Peyton Manning can be defeated.
--LB Allen Bradford was awarded off waivers from Seattle
--LB Dan Connor put in injured reserve.
--DT Tackle Linval Joseph was fined $15,000 by the NFL for running into Dallas quarterback Tony Romo last Sunday. Joseph, who insisted that he was pushed into Romo, said he plans to appeal the fine.
--LB Mark Herzlich, who had a tough opening night against Dallas in relief of Dan Connor, is projected to get the start on Sunday against the Broncos if Connor's neck injury keeps him out of action.
--RB Brandon Jacobs is unlikely to replace David Wilson as the starter on Sunday; rather, Jacobs will probably assume many of the duties previously held by the injured Andre Brown, such as third down pass protection, short yardage and goal line work, though given the unexpected knee injury to Da'Rel Scott, Jacobs might be potentially facing a larger role on Sunday.
--OL Kevin Boothe, who last week started at center, took some reps at left guard, his natural spot, when David Baas, who was listed as limited on the team's practice report, was given some practice reps.
--The Giants signed linebacker Emmanuel Acho to their practice squad. Acho is a former sixth round pick of the Browns in 2012 draft who played his college ball at Texas. Acho, who missed his rookie season with a leg injury, was traded after the 2012 season to the Eagles for running back Dion Lewis. He was released by the Eagles on Sept. 2 of this year before landing up with the Giants on their practice squad.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Giants CBs Corey Webster/Aaron Ross/Prince Amukamara vs. Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas. Last week, Thomas had five receptions for 161 yards and two touchdowns, including a 78-yard strike from quarterback Peyton Manning. While the Giants defensive secondary played well in their regular season opener against Cowboys receiving threats, holding Dez Bryant and Miles Austin to under 75 receiving yards a piece and no touchdowns, the uncertainty surrounding Amukamara's availability for Sunday has to be a concern in the coaches' trying to scheme against Thomas.
Giants CB Terrell Thomas vs. Broncos WR Wes Welker. Welker led the Broncos with nine receptions last week and has shown no signs of slowing down. Thomas, meanwhile, came through fine in his first extensive regular season actin following two straight ACL surgeries, but the big question is whether he has the speed to keep up with Welker if, of course, he is assigned the slot duties this week. Regardless of who lines up across from Welker, that man will have to make sure he gets his hands on the receiver every chance possible.