New York Giants: Josh Freeman

This week's New York Giants Twitter mailbag, thanks to those of you who used the #nygmail hashtag on Twitter this week.


Giants actually add Josh Freeman

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
Even after we spent the past couple of days discussing it here, and even after Matt Flynn went back to Green Bay and left Josh Freeman as the last man standing in the New York Giants' search for an extra quarterback for the offseason, it was still hard to believe it would happen. Freeman washed out of two organizations last year, and the one game he played for the Vikings after the Buccaneers cut him was hardly a helpful audition. You'll remember that "Monday Night Football" fiasco as the Giants' first victory of the season, and the fact Freeman obviously wasn't at all prepared to play in the game was the main reason they were able to stop their losing streak.

But they did it. The Giants have in fact agreed to terms with Freeman on a one-year deal, which means he'll likely be in the building next week when they start their offseason program and will be a candidate to take some of the snaps in OTAs and minicamp if starting quarterback Eli Manning's recovery from ankle surgery takes longer than expected.

I guess, if he shows something, Freeman could beat out Curtis Painter for the backup quarterback job. That assumes second-year project Ryan Nassib can't get into that mix, but given the level of his competition I don't know why he couldn't.

I know there isn't much out there on the quarterback market, and that Freeman was the best and most experienced of the candidates once Manning had surgery last week, and the Giants decided they needed to add a reserve quarterback. But if Freeman is on the 2014 Giants, I can't see how that helps them. Nothing we've heard about Freeman over the past year has indicated he'd be a useful backup. And while I'm willing to give him a pass for his ugly exit from Tampa Bay because I believe loony former Bucs coach Greg Schiano to have been at least as much at fault for their conflict as Freeman, it says a lot that he couldn't beat out Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder for playing time after the Vikings signed him in October. It also says a lot that this week was the first time any sort of market materialized for Freeman this offseason, given the state of the quarterback market.

So if you think Freeman is going to be some sort of diamond-in-the-rough signing for the Giants, or that having him on the team makes them better prepared to weather a potential Manning absence than they were yesterday, I'm going to take the opposite point of view. The best thing you can say about this move is that it probably can't hurt. But if the addition of Freeman has any impact on the Giants' 2014 season, they're in trouble.

No team in the NFL has signed more free agents this offseason than the New York Giants, and they may not be done yet.

You already know about backup quarterback candidates Josh Freeman and Matt Flynn, who will visit the Giants on Tuesday because the team may need some help if Eli Manning takes longer than expected to recover from ankle surgery. But quarterback isn't the only spot at which the Giants are still looking to add depth at this late stage.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune spoke with former Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who is currently visiting with the Giants. Williams told the paper he had dinner Monday night with Giants defensive line coach Robert Nunn and would meet with Tom Coughlin and other Giants officials Tuesday.

Ironically, the reason Williams is no longer needed in Minnesota is because the Vikings signed defensive tackle Linval Joseph away from the Giants early in the free-agency period. Williams will turn 34 in August and is therefore considerably older than (a) Joseph and (b) nearly all of the other 25 free agents the Giants have signed this offseason. But there's some recent precedent for the Giants adding a respected veteran to their defensive tackle rotation. Shaun Rogers was that guy the last two offseasons. Currently, the rotation includes Cullen Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson and Markus Kuhn. It could use some help.

There was also a report Monday linking the Giants to oft-injured wide receiver Sidney Rice, who's apparently telling teams he's been cleared medically, but I am told not to expect the Giants to be serious bidders if a lot of other teams get involved on Rice. Could happen, and if healthy he'd fill a big need for them. But he's never healthy and I think the Giants just sort of checked in to see about the price.
In the wake of the surgery quarterback Eli Manning had on his ankle last week, the New York Giants are bringing in some veteran quarterbacks to have a look at them. Manning is hoping to be able to run by the end of May, and if that's the case he should be fine for the start of the team's offseason practices. But in case his recovery takes longer than expected -- or in case he's not able to participate in May and June drills to the extent he normally does -- the Giants know they may need a quarterback who can take some of the reps he has to miss.

To that end, the Giants will host former Buccaneers and Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman and former Packers quarterback Matt Flynn for visits Tuesday. There's a chance they could sign one of them. There's also a chance they could send them both home and either keep looking or just decide to stick with their current backups, Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib. The Giants' preference would be that this all ends up unnecessary -- that Manning is fine in time for OTAs and they don't need Freeman, Flynn or any other outside help at quarterback. But there's no harm in looking, and there is plenty of potential harm in bring unprepared.

If I had to guess, I'd predict they sign Flynn. Freeman is the better player, the better athlete and the more accomplished NFL player, but Flynn worked with new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo in Green Bay from 2008-11 and again last year. And Freeman is coming off a bad year in which questions surfaced about his off-field preparation habits. If the Giants were looking for someone to play games at quarterback for them, Freeman might make more sense. But if all they're looking for is a willing backup who'll take whatever reps come his way for however long Manning has to sit out, Flynn is probably the safer play. But we'll see. You might have an answer by this time Tuesday.
Herewith, our weekly presentation of the four best New York Giants Twitter questions I got this week using the #nygmail hashtag. Enjoy.

The New York Giants have been in contact with the representatives for free-agent quarterback Josh Freeman and could have the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers' first-round pick in for a visit and workout next week, sources familiar with the situation said Friday.

Nothing official has been scheduled in terms of a visit, and it's unclear whether the Giants' interest predates Thursday's news that starting quarterback Eli Manning had surgery on his ankle. But the timing of the Freeman news is interesting in light of the possibility that Manning could have to miss time in the offseason as he recovers from his surgery.

As I mentioned in Thursday's analysis of the Manning news, the Giants don't generally employ a fill-in-starter type of backup quarterback. Manning hasn't missed a game since he got the starter's job during his 2004 rookie season, and the Giants count on him to be able to suit up and play every Sunday. In recent years, backups such as Curtis Painter and David Carr have had their jobs mainly because of their abilities to portray opposing quarterbacks on the scout team every week.

But Freeman, who has started 60 NFL games since the Buccaneers took him with the 17th overall pick in 2009, could represent a viable fill-in, either in the preseason if Manning is slow to recover or in the regular season if the Giants are concerned Manning might be at risk of missing games for the first time in his career.

Of course, there's no guarantee Freeman would be a good backup quarterback or the Giants' interest will lead to a signing. Freeman was cut by the Buccaneers last year due to a variety of off-field concerns and a personality conflict with since-fired coach Greg Schiano (who obviously had his own issues). He was signed by the Vikings and started just one game -- a horrible one on "Monday Night Football" in MetLife Stadium that turned out to be the Giants' first victory of the 2013 season. He certainly showed the Giants nothing that night that would make them interested in him, but he has shown some talent and had some degree of success in the league. If the Giants can satisfactorily answer whatever questions they have about those off-field concerns, it's possible they could offer Freeman a job.

Upon Further Review: Giants Week 7

October, 22, 2013
An examination of four hot issues from the New York Giants' 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings:

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Bill KostrounPeyton Hillis had 18 carries and a touchdown in his Giants debut.
The impact of Jon Beason: What's amazing is that Beason was only available in trade because he'd lost his starting outside linebacker job in Carolina to Giants castoff Chase Blackburn. After two games in New York you can make a legitimate case that Beason is the best defensive player on the team. Justin Tuck called him a "godsend" and spoke of Beason's impressive football knowledge and ability to direct traffic and get guys positioned on defense before the snap. Beason also plays fast and finds his way to the ball quickly. He looks like a very good middle linebacker, and it may be that he needed to be in the middle instead of on the outside where Carolina was using him. The extent of the upgrade he represents over what the Giants had been using at linebacker prior to his arrival speaks ill of the decision not to prioritize the position in the offseason.

What a little pressure can do: The Giants got only one sack, raising their league-worst team total to six for the season, but they did pressure Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman and it did matter. Antrel Rolle's interception came on a play on which Shaun Rogers was draped around Freeman's ankles. Tuck's sack came on third down. Both plays deprived the Vikings of at least field goal chances. The Giants' pass rush has been absent all year and must resurrect itself if they are going to win more games. It was encouraging that Jason Pierre-Paul (who now has one sack in his past 14 games) looked quicker off the ball in the first half, but he has to carry it through the game.

The Peyton Hillis thing: The newly signed Hillis made his best contribution as a receiver out of the backfield, catching five passes for 45 yards. He ran for a touchdown, but he had only 36 yards on 18 carries and the Giants averaged only 2 yards per rush attempt as a team. They didn't have to do much on offense to beat a Vikings team that looked as though it wasn't trying to score. And Hillis is a neat story if he really is making a comeback of any sort here. But to think the run game woes are suddenly solved would be a mistake.

Whither Hakeem Nicks? He was once again the Giants' most-targeted receiver, as Eli Manning threw his way 10 times. But Nicks caught only two passes for 28 yards. He can't seem to get separation from defenders, at all, anymore, which means he has to outfight them. And while he's capable of that, it's no way to go through a game and help your quarterback. Increasingly, Nicks looks like a guy who's not worth the No. 1 wide receiver money he seeks. And if he's still seeking it in March, he's not likely to be a Giant next year.

Locker Room Buzz: New York Giants

October, 22, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Observed in the locker room after the New York Giants' 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings:

Sweet relief: There were smiles. There was chatter. There were willing interview subjects as far as the eye could see. For the first time this season, the Giants had won a game, and they felt as though a weight had been lifted. "It's good to be smiling," Eli Manning said. "It's good to have that feeling in the locker room again."

Surprise, surprise: The Vikings ran 54 pass plays and 14 running plays, in spite of the fact that their running back, Adrian Peterson, is the reigning NFL MVP and their quarterback, Josh Freeman, has been on the team less than two weeks. Justin Tuck said the Giants' defense was surprised. "A little bit. A little bit, yeah," Tuck said. "Especially with Josh just being there a couple of weeks, we were really prepared to see a lot of No. 28."

Hurt again: After missing three games with a neck injury, center David Baas injured his left knee on the first series and sat out the rest of the game. He'll have an MRI on Monday but isn't optimistic. "I can't catch a break," Baas said.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Well, let's see. The New York Giants... let me check... yes, they lead the Minnesota Vikings 10-7 at the half here at MetLife Stadium. Eli Manning has ... right, has not thrown an interception. His touchdown pass to Rueben Randle surely could have been intercepted, or at least knocked away, had Vikings cornerback Chris Cook ever laid eyes on it. But Randle saw it first and made a great play to leap in the air and scoop it out from in front of Cook's face. That's the difference-making play in an awful game so far, and the Giants have their first halftime lead of the season.

Gonna go right to the bullet points, because my eyes hurt:
  • The Giants' opening drive took 9:36 off the clock with 17 completely uninspiring plays and resulted in a Josh Brown field goal when they failed to convert their fourth third-down attempt of the drive. They were sharp, if unexciting, on the previous three third downs, and an interesting game-plan issue revealed itself. They were using Peyton Hillis some and Michael Cox some at running back on early downs, but they don't seem to trust either in pass protection, so when they get to third down they either go empty backfield or, a couple of times, have lined up wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan back there. Imperfect solutions, to be sure, but Cox and Hillis are the fifth and sixth tailbacks they've had to try this year due to injuries, and perfect solutions are unavailable at the present time. I did think Cox looked good on a couple of inside runs early, and I am at a loss to explain why a slow-footed Hillis got the bulk of the second-quarter work.
  • After missing three straight games with a neck injury, center David Baas returned to the lineup but limped off with a knee injury during the first drive. Can't make this stuff up. Jim Cordle is back at center.
  • In the first five weeks of the season, three different Giants opponents were named their conference's Special Teams Player of the Week. Minnesota's Marcus Sherels continued the misery with an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter to put the Vikings ahead 7-3. The Giants have been so awful at so many things this year, but it's possible their coverage on punts has been their worst thing.
  • The thing the Giants do best is stop the run between the tackles, and Adrian Peterson's nine yards on eight carries in the first half are evidence that this aspect of the Giants' game is no joke. The Vikings need to get Peterson going if they're to come back and drop the Giants to 0-7, because new quarterback Josh Freeman looks very new and uncomfortable back there. He has not, however, been sacked. Coming in, the Giants as a team had five sacks for the season and only eight in their last 11 games.
  • Jared Allen's sack of Manning right before the end of the half was unlike any I've ever seen. He had his arms wrapped around the waist of Giants left tackle Will Beatty and yet still managed to grab Manning's jersey on the other side and hold on long enough to bring him down. Embarrassing for Beatty, incredible by Allen.
  • The Giants should win this game, which says a lot about how awful the Vikings are. But the Giants are pretty awful too. Let's settle in and see who's less awful in the second half.

W2W4: Giants vs. Vikings

October, 21, 2013
As they continue to look for their first win of this miserable season, the 0-6 New York Giants will host the 1-4 Minnesota Vikings in a "Monday Night Football" matchup at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN. I will of course be there, as will Vikings reporter Ben Goessling and many others, to chronicle all that needs chronicling from this game. But as you look beyond your workday and count the hours until kickoff, here are a couple of things that'll be worth watching once toe meets leather in East Rutherford, N.J.

Can the Giants knock over Josh Freeman? This is, for me, the most glaring thing about the way the Giants play now. As a team they have eight sacks in their last 11 games. That's not a trend anymore; it's almost an ethos. The Giants in their current form simply are not the type of team that effectively puts pressure on an opposing quarterback. It is very easy for a quarterback to feel comfortable when playing against them, and as a result their defense is unable to dictate the flow of a game or get stops when it needs them. The last time they saw Freeman, they sacked him twice and intercepted him twice in a wild 41-34 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2 of last season. This is Freeman's first game as a Viking, after the Bucs cut him earlier this year. So Minnesota likely will try to run the ball as much as possible with Adrian Peterson. But when they do throw, the Giants need to find ways to make Freeman move his feet, and maybe once or twice bring him to the ground.

What to do about Peterson: The reigning NFL MVP, Peterson is coming off a tough game and has been dealing with an off-field tragedy following the death of his 2-year-old son. He will play, though, and he'll have to be a focal point for the Giants' defense. The Giants have actually done a decent job limiting between-the-tackles running this year thanks to their strength at the defensive tackle position. But while they're allowing opponents only 3.9 yards per carry (15th in the league), they're giving up more rush yards per game (123.3) than all but five teams in the league. They've struggled to contain outside runners, and surely Peterson and the Vikings have seen them on tape. What gives the Giants hope that this can improve is the encouraging debut performance of middle linebacker Jon Beason 11 days ago in Chicago. If he's going to be as quick and athletic as he looked in that game, that will go a long way toward shoring up that problem. No tougher test than this one.

Obviously, the interceptions: Giants quarterback Eli Manning leads the league with 15 interceptions, and the team's league-high 23 turnovers are a huge reason they're 0-6. But the Vikings offer some hope. They only have seven interceptions this season, and two of those belong to safety Harrison Smith, who's on injured reserve and not playing Monday night. If they can keep Manning upright, this could be a game in which he's not punished as badly for mistakes as he has been in the first six.

Another new runner? It sounds as though Brandon Jacobs, who rushed for 106 yards in the Chicago game, will either miss this game or be limited due to his hamstring injury. That likely means carries for newly signed veteran Peyton Hillis and/or rookie Michael Cox, neither of whom has a single carry as a Giant. As vulnerable as the Minnesota secondary is, the Giants will still look to run and establish an offensive balance that relieves some of the pressure on Manning. The extent to which they have success with this early could determine whether they're playing from ahead or behind in the second half.

Big Blue Morning: Monday desperation

October, 21, 2013
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about the New York Giants

The news of the day: After 10 days off since they fell to 0-6 that Thursday night in Chicago, the Giants return to action tonight with a "Monday Night Football" matchup against the 1-4 Vikings on ESPN. Many people are pointing to this game as the Giants' best chance yet for a win. But it's important to remember that, based on the way the Giants have played this year, this looks like one of the Vikings' better chances for a win as well.

Minnesota will start Josh Freeman at quarterback, their third different starter at the position in their last four games. The Giants always know who their quarterback is going to be, of course, but there is mystery once again this week about running back due to the fact that Brandon Jacobs and his injured hamstring missed Saturday's practice. Regardless of who gets the carries, though, the game is going to come down to Eli Manning's ability to protect the ball better than he has so far this year and the ability of the Giants' "pass-rushers" to make Freeman uncomfortable. Much more on this game to come today and of course tonight from East Rutherford.

Behind enemy lines: Ben Goessling writes that the very good injury luck the Vikings had as they made their way to the playoffs last year appears to be running out. The injury to safety Harrison Smith is of particular interest if your team has -- just to throw out a random example -- a quarterback who's thrown 15 interceptions already. Smith is the only Vikings defensive back who has an interception so far this season. He has two of the team's seven. Four have come from linebackers and one from a defensive lineman. So with Smith out, if Manning gets picked off tonight by a Vikings defensive back, it'll be that player's first pick of the year.

Around the division: The Cowboys' defense, missing three of the four starting linemen with which it made its offseason plans, throttled the Eagles 17-3 and Dallas took over sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Dallas was my pick to win the division before the season started, and nothing that's happened this year has led me to consider changing that pick. The Cowboys have beaten every other team in the division once, and two of their three losses are by a combined four points to the Chiefs and the Broncos. The Redskins' offense looked much better in beating the Bears, but allowing 41 in a game in which the opposing team's starting quarterback got knocked out in the first half is obviously an indication that the defense still has a few things to work on.

Around the league: I'm all for controversy, don't get me wrong. And I totally get the point of view of those who wonder how "pushing" can be a penalty in the NFL. But the rule that cost the Patriots the game against the Jets is, in fact, a rule, and if a player breaks it there should be a penalty. Seems pretty cut and dried. Oddly, it's the second of the Jets' four victories this year that was straight-up handed to them by an opponent's penalty at a critical time in the game. The first came in Week 1, when Greg Schiano's ultra-disciplined Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the Jets beaten before a late-hit, out-of-bounds penalty in the final minutes. Not that the Jets have anything to be ashamed of or should give the games back. Their defense is legitimate, and Geno Smith looks as though he will be as well. My point is that every year, there's a team or two that turns out to be much better that people thought they'd be, and those teams often have a lot of things go their way.
Adrian Peterson and Eli ManningUSA TODAY SportsAdrian Peterson and Eli Manning will likely have to carry the offenses on Monday night.
This time last year, the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings were both 4-2 and headed for winning seasons. But as they get set to square off on "Monday Night Football" at MetLife Stadium, the Vikings are 1-4 and the Giants an even more miserable 0-6. Giants reporter Dan Graziano and Vikings reporter Ben Goessling break down the matchup of NFC disappointments.

Dan Graziano: Ben, the Giants only have four interceptions and five sacks, so I imagine there were a lot of people in the Vikings locker room interested in playing quarterback in this game. Why did the Vikings pick newcomer Josh Freeman, and what do you expect their offense to look like with him running it for the first time?

Ben Goessling: A lot of this, I think, is an attempt to make a quick-course correction after things with Christian Ponder didn't pan out. If it works, GM Rick Spielman can make people forget about the Ponder pick, the Vikings might win a few games to keep coach Leslie Frazier's job and they could have a solution to their quarterback problem for next season. If it doesn't work? They're only out $3 million.

As for Monday night, I'd expect the Vikings to try to limit how much they put on Freeman, so I expect we'll see plenty of Adrian Peterson (not that we wouldn't anyway). Considering how bad the Giants have been at stopping the run, that could be a good approach for the Vikings. They're always better when they can get a lead and let Peterson go to work, and they haven't done a good job of controlling the clock so far this season. This matchup might give them a shot to do that.

Now back to the quarterbacks: We know Eli Manning has a tendency to turn the ball over, but this has been strange even by his standards. What has been his biggest problem?

Graziano: Yeah, 15 interceptions in six games is stone-cold ridiculous, and I think it speaks to a general lack of comfort for Manning, who for years has thrived on comfort and routine and familiarity. The Giants started the season with major problems on the offensive line, and they have continued (and in some cases worsened) as the year has gone along.

The inability to establish any kind of run game, combined with the early-season failures in pass protection, rattled Manning, and even though the protection has improved overall and Brandon Jacobs managed to rush for 106 yards against Chicago, Manning still just doesn't seem right. He's not making those great, deep sideline throws he used to make, he's missing too many easy throws, and even when he's throwing well, he's staring down receivers and isn't setting his feet. He's just been erratic, and the result the past couple of weeks has been interceptions in the worst possible spots. The Bears didn't really pressure him that much, but he coughed it up anyway in the clutch. Just not himself.

Will he have a chance to get comfortable at all Monday night? How's that Minnesota pass rush these days?

Goessling: It hasn't been up to the Vikings' normal standards, which has been one of their biggest issues on defense. In the past, the Vikings have been able to survive because their pass rush generated enough pressure to mask issues in the linebacking group and the secondary. But the Vikings have just 10 sacks this season, and what's worse, they've had to bring pressure to get some of them -- three of the 10 are from linebackers Chad Greenway and Erin Henderson. They shouldn't have to bring extra pressure with Jared Allen, Brian Robison, Everson Griffen & Co. on the defensive line, and having to do so exposes a porous secondary, which might be even worse this week with Harrison Smith battling turf toe. So, yeah, I think this might be a good week for Manning to get on track.

The Vikings also haven't been as good as they're accustomed to being against the run. Is Jacobs in line to hurt them, or do you see his game against the Bears being a fluke?

Graziano: Got to be a fluke, Ben. The Bears are down to third-stringers in the middle of that defensive line, and the Giants' game plan wisely took advantage of it for Jacobs' throwback-to-2008 game. His 106 rushing yards against Chicago represent 26 percent of the Giants' team total for the season. And, perhaps, most importantly, both he and Da'Rel Scott injured their hamstrings in that game. Scott has been released, and Jacobs didn't practice Monday. Even if he does play, they may not want to work him as hard as they did in Chicago.

The backups are rookie Michael Cox, who doesn't have an NFL carry yet, and Peyton Hillis (yeah, same guy), who signed Wednesday and is no sure thing to even get a uniform for this game. New fullback John Conner looked to be an asset as Jacobs' lead blocker in Chicago, so it's possible things are getting better for the Giants in the run game. But based on their options for carries, this has to come down to Manning and the passing game getting on track.

But I'd like to get back to something you said in your last answer. Ten sacks! That's twice as many as the Giants have. Oddly, in spite of the overall yardage totals, one thing they have done well on defense is stop the run up the middle. They're allowing just 3.9 yards per carry and have held Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles to 67, 46, 65 yards, respectively, in the past three weeks. Peterson is obviously his own special case, but he didn't have a big game Sunday. Do you think the off-field tragedy was or could be a factor in his performance?

Goessling: I didn't see that as a huge issue on Sunday, though I'm sure it was on his mind. It had more to do with the Panthers' stout run defense and the inability of an offensive line that was pretty good last season to open holes for Peterson. As a result of that, he has gotten anxious at times, trying to turn every run into a big play, and he just hasn't looked as fluid this year as he did last season. Missing Jerome Felton, his Pro Bowl fullback, for the first three games didn't help, but now that Felton is back, Peterson has everything he had last year.

If the Giants have been able to hold the point of attack up the middle, Peterson might not have as much success as I would have initially thought. He's obviously capable of breaking a big run at any time (he has touchdown runs of 78 and 60 yards this season), but we're still waiting for him to control a game like he did so often last season.

To wrap this up, complete this sentence for me: The Giants will win on Monday if they ...

Graziano: Get some pressure on Freeman and don't turn the ball over more than once. I'm not holding my breath. Thanks, Ben. This has been fun. See you Monday night.


Big Blue Morning: Still not in a rush

October, 18, 2013
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about the New York Giants.

The news of the day: So much attention has been paid to the running back situation and to Eli Manning's interceptions that a lot of people have been missing the most significant problem that's keeping the Giants from playing the way they believe they can play. Kieran Darcy checks in on the Giants' absentee pass rush, which Justin Tuck still believes can make an impact. The Giants won't be able to control games in any way until they start knocking down quarterbacks again.

Behind enemy lines: Adrian Peterson, the Vikings' star running back, was limited in practice Thursday with a hamstring injury. Obviously, with the game not until Monday night, the Vikings have time to get Peterson right. But if he's to be limited in any way, it will severely hurt a Vikings' offense that's keyed around Peterson and the running game. The Vikings are starting quarterback Josh Freeman, who just joined the team a couple of weeks ago after being cut by the Buccaneers, so it's more likely than ever that they want to pound the ball with Peterson to take pressure off a quarterback who's still settling in.

Around the division: Michael Vick and Nick Foles playfully decided to address the media together Thursday, which is nice that they're getting along and all. But this is a quarterback controversy (or "conversation," as some would prefer it be called) that's likely to linger all year. Given that Vick's not exactly a quick healer, I imagine the Giants will be planning for Foles this time next week, since they face the Eagles in Week 8. Long-term, I still think Chip Kelly would rather go with Vick, but I am no mind-reader.

Around the league: We will talk Cardinals-Seahawks, the Eagles' quarterback situation, maybe some Giants and a whole bunch of other topics this afternoon at 3 pm on "NFL Insiders" on ESPN. I have a nice suit and tie picked out, and I hope you will tune in.

Big Blue Morning: Prepping for Freeman

October, 17, 2013
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants.

The news of the day: The Giants return to practice Thursday after a couple of days off and begin preparations for their "Monday Night Football" game against the Minnesota Vikings. All eyes will once again be on the running backs, with Peyton Hillis newly signed for depth and Brandon Jacobs having missed Monday's practice with a hamstring injury. All of the focus on the run game distracts from the major issues that are killing the Giants right now, which are the erratic play of quarterback Eli Manning and the complete lack of a pass rush, but maybe the Giants don't mind if we're all distracted from those things. We will of course have updates for you throughout the day.

Behind enemy lines: The Vikings announced Wednesday that they will use their third different starting quarterback of the season, as newly signed former Buccaneer Josh Freeman gets the nod Monday night. If there's a surprise in all of this, it's that the team decided Freeman was ready to run its offense already after being run out of Tampa Bay by his coach just a couple of weeks ago. But based on what they got from Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel this season, why not? Ben Goessling things the Vikings' receivers could benefit from the switch.

Around the division: The Cowboys have released Jay Ratliff in a move that was long overdue. Tim MacMahon writes that Ratliff's deal, and sticking with him as long as they did in spite of his injuries and other issues, ranks among Jerry Jones' worst mistakes as Cowboys owner and GM. I have to agree. Ratliff was a special player for a time, but it's been a while since he was reliable and he's created more headaches the past couple of years than he was worth.

Around the league: Nobody should know better than Jim Irsay not to give Peyton Manning bulletin-board material before he comes to town to play his team. Which makes it really weird that that's exactly what Irsay did! Manning's going to throw for 800 yards and nine touchdowns, and the Colts players aren't going to be able to complain because the guy who fired him up is the one signing their checks.
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about to the New York Giants

The news of the day: Running back David Wilson won't require surgery for his neck injury at this time, but he's still out at least 3-4 more weeks, and with Brandon Jacobs and Da'Rel Scott dealing with hamstring injuries, the Giants will work out running backs today.

The one name I heard was Jeremy Wright, the former Louisville back the Giants signed as an undrafted free agent and cut after two days of minicamp. Jason LaCanfora of reported on Twitter on Monday night that Peyton Hillis was among the others scheduled to work out today. Usually, the Giants will bring in several guys for workouts at a position of need and pick one (if any) to sign. It's also possible that Jacobs could be ready for the next game, on Monday night against the Vikings, or that the Giants could offer rookie Michael Cox his first NFL carries. It's an increasingly desperate situation, as Kieran Darcy writes.

Behind enemy lines: The Vikings are hoping to decide on a starting quarterback for Monday's game by Wednesday of this week, though it's no guarantee that they can. The sense you get is that they'd love for newcomer Josh Freeman to be up to speed in time to play this game, but that they have to be realistic about the chances of that happening. Ben Goessling thinks Freeman is going to get the start in this game.

Around the division: Tough news for the Cowboys, who lose top pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware for a few weeks due to a pulled quad and likely won't have starting running back DeMarco Murray next week either. Obviously, the defense works best with Ware in there, but there's a lot of evidence over the past few years that the Cowboys' offense works best when Murray is playing, too. Could be a chance for the Eagles to catch the Cowboys at their weakest and take over first place in the NFC East.

Around the league: Jeff Chadiha thinks the 6-0 Chiefs could bolster their chances for the stretch run by bringing back former Chiefs great Tony Gonzalez to help the passing game at tight end. And he's right, of course. Gonzalez would help almost anyone. I just feel it's unlikely that Gonzalez would want a trade. He didn't come out of retirement because he was dying to play again. He came out to play for the Falcons, specifically, because of his relationships there and his belief in their chances to win the Super Bowl. Obviously, those chances are in big trouble now, but even so, I wouldn't assume Gonzalez would just jump at a chance to play for any contender.