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Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Giants have hands full with Fitzgerald

By Ian Begley

Things don't get any easier for the Giants secondary this Sunday.

Last week, they had to deal with Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. This week, it's Cardinals all-world wideout Larry Fitzgerald.

"He's a big play receiver," cornerback Aaron Ross said. "…. The plays never over with him."

In other words, it may be a long Sunday in the desert for Giants' defensive backs.

Said Tom Coughlin: "Fitzgerald [is] a guy that every team recognizes and tries to defend."

Try is the operative word there.

Because stopping the 6-3, 211-pound receiver is as easy as a baseball team overcoming a nine-game deficit in September.

Sure, it's possible. But if it happens, it's remarkable.

Fitzgerald has a 17.3-yard per-catch average, second among receivers with at least 13 catches. He's also had at least 90 catches the last four years and has a franchise-record 67 touchdowns.

"He's one of the top-5 receivers in the game," Kenny Phillips said. "It's going to be a challenge."

Giants defensive backs wouldn't reveal much about their plan for Sunday, but, in a surprise to no one, Antrel Rolle hinted they will double-team Fitzgerald.

"I have never seen a defensive back shut him down [one-on-one]," Fitzgerald said. "I'm not saying it can't be done, I am saying that I haven't seen it done."

And Rolle's seen plenty of Fitzgerald.

The two played together for five seasons in Arizona. They also played against one another in college in 2003. Rolle was at Miami, Fitzgerald at Pittsburgh.

On Wednesday, Fitzgerald recalled that Rolle tackled him in that 2003 game and, inadvertently, made his nose bleed.

So, in a playful text message this week, Fitzgerald told his ex-teammate that he was “going to bust his nose.”

Turning serious, Fitzgerald added: "I love Antrel, he is like a brother to me.... I am looking forward to the matchup. I don't know what Coach Coughlin and Coach [Perry] Fewell are going to do, but I know those guys are going to be ready."

The Giants secondary limited Maclin and Jackson for a combined seven catches for 99 yards last Sunday. It appears they've turned a corner after two rough weeks against Washington and St. Louis, in which they allowed both starting quarterbacks to throw for more than 300 yards.

"Our focus is to get better every single week," Rolle said. "That's what our main mindset is."

That's going to be difficult to do with Fitzgerald on the field. But Rolle is looking forward to the challenge.

"Larry's a good receiver every knows he's good, if not the best receiver in the league. We're all aware of that," he said. "But we're also aware of our talents and we're also aware of what we have here in the secondary."