Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Giants notebook: The Prince vs. the Bears
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara is preparing for a tough challenge Thursday night against the Chicago Bears' wide receivers. The Bears' receivers are large. Brandon Marshall is listed at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and Alshon Jeffery at 6-3, 216. But while Amukamara admits the size and physical style of the Bears' receivers present their own difficulties, he thinks he'll enjoy this game more than he enjoyed Sunday's against the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I like to play that way -- physical, up on the line, where the officials can see everything that's going on," Amukamara said Tuesday. "It's a fight all the way down the field, but I know I can play that way. And I'd rather play against guys like that than a guy like DeSean Jackson, who's just so fast it's amazing."
Jackson caught seven passes for 132 yards against the Giants on Sunday and is fourth in the league with 525 receiving yards this season. Amukamara said he's been an admirer of Jackson's speed for a long time and won't miss him this week.
"He's the fastest receiver I've ever seen, by far," Amukamara said. "I just remember watching when I was in college -- and nobody around here will talk about this -- but that punt return against the Giants [in 2010]. And I remember wondering, 'How fast must he look on the field?,' and it's unbelievable."
Marshall has 31 catches for 378 yards and three touchdowns so far this season. Jeffrey caught 10 passes for a Bears-record 218 yards in Sunday's loss to the Saints. It's unclear how the Giants will deploy their cornerbacks against the pair, but Amukamara's a good bet to shadow Marshall, the veteran and the tougher of the two. The Giants' other starting cornerback, Corey Webster, is likely to miss a fourth straight game with a groin injury, and Trumaine McBride is likely to replace him.
Beason to be involved: Linebacker Jon Beason didn't have a chance to play defense in Sunday's game, since the Giants had acquired him in a trade with the Panthers just 48 hours before kickoff. But defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Beason would definitely be a factor at the middle linebacker spot Thursday in Chicago.
"We are going to integrate him into our defense this week," Fewell said. "We felt like it was important to get him involved. Just in his short time here, his inline quickness stood out. And he's picked things up quickly."
The Giants have struggled at the middle linebacker position this year. Free-agent signee Dan Connor is on injured reserve. Mark Herzlich hasn't played as well as they'd hoped. And Allen Bradford didn't pick things up as quickly as they thought he might when they signed him. So enter Beason, who was miscast as an outside linebacker in Carolina (and, ironically, replaced by former Giant Chase Blackburn) but has middle linebacker experience at a high level. If he's over his knee issues of the past few years, he could be a find.
"I'm in the playbook heavy," Beason said. "It's different terminology, but I've played football in this league for a long time, so I feel pretty comfortable about it."
Outside linebacker Spencer Paysinger has been the one making the calls on the defense, which is usually the middle linebacker's job. Fewell and Beason both said they'd like Beason to take over some of those responsibilities, but that's not likely to happen right away this week.
New secondary alignment: Terrell Thomas served as the Giants' nickel cornerback for the first four games of the season but didn't play any defensive snaps Sunday, as Will Hill returned from suspension and played safety while safety Antrel Rolle moved up to play Thomas' slot position. Thomas said he believed that would change back, and that the arrangement Sunday was part of the maintenance plan for his surgically repaired knee, since the Giants are in a stretch of three games in 12 days. But Fewell indicated that the look Thursday would be similar to Sunday's.
"We try to strive for consistency as much as we can," Fewell said.
The Giants were high on Hill in the preseason and clearly had a plan for what they wanted to do when he returned from his four-game drug suspension.
Practice squad: The Giants signed cornerback Junior Mertile and linebacker Darin Drakeford to their practice squad. One of those spots came open last week when they promoted cornerback Charles James to the active roster, the other when the Buffalo Bills signed linebacker Ty Powell away.