New York Giants: alshon jeffery

Big Blue Morning: Passing game woes

December, 6, 2013
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants

The news of the day: Tight end Brandon Myers didn't practice Thursday due to a groin injury, but he said it's not a real problem and he expects to practice Friday. The Giants have been using Myers more as a receiver in recent weeks, and he's caught a touchdown pass in each of the last two games. So he'd probably be missed by a passing game that hasn't been able to get going all year in terms of big plays down the field. To me, the biggest reason for that problem is the pass protection, and we've written about that extensively. But rookie right tackle Justin Pugh is one guy on that line who's definitely shown week-to-week improvement and has handled the job well in his first year in the league.

Behind enemy lines: The Giants-Chargers game Sunday may not be a real popular watch in San Diego, where the Chargers are trying hard to avoid a second straight week in which their home game is blacked out in their home market due to insufficient ticket sales.

Around the division: Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin says his team will be trying to stop basketball players when it faces off against the Bears and wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery on Monday Night Football. You may (or may not) remember the game against Chicago as a pretty low point for the Cowboys last season. They will need to win it this time either to assert control of the division or to keep pace with the Eagles, depending on what Philly does Sunday against Detroit.

Around the league: Join me, Chris Mortensen, Jarrett Bell and Suzy Kolber at 3 pm ET today on ESPN for "NFL Insiders," where we'll take a look at this weekend's big games and maybe throw you a Giants note or two if they'll let me. Go ahead and leave work early. Tell your boss I said it was OK.
CHICAGO -- No real surprises on the New York Giants' list of inactives for Thursday night's game against the Bears. Six of the seven were announced as out Wednesday, and the seventh is No. 3 quarterback Ryan Nassib.

That means defensive end Damontre Moore, who was listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury, is active, as are defensive tackle Linval Joseph and tight end Brandon Myers, who were questionable. It remains to be seen how much those players will play, since the team has to have 46 active players and a week on which so many guys are injured may require a team to keep some active who aren't fully healthy.

The Giants also announced changes to the starting lineup. Newly acquired linebacker Jon Beason, who came over in a trade with the Carolina Panthers six days ago, is the starting middle linebacker. And veteran Terrell Thomas is starting at outside cornerback in place of the injured Corey Webster, which is an interesting decision for a number of reasons. Thomas didn't get a single defensive snap in Sunday's loss to the Eagles, and he said he though it was due to an effort to rest his surgically repaired knee for this game. Turns out he was right. The undersized Trumaine McBride got the start Sunday against the Eagles, but the bigger Thomas gets the nod tonight as the Giants look to match up against big, physical Bears receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

On the other side, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is inactive, which could help Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks win his physical matchups in the secondary.

W2W4: Giants at Bears

October, 10, 2013
CHICAGO -- The New York Giants are 0-5 for the first time since the replacement-player season of 1987 as they head into Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The only time the Giants have ever started 0-6 was 1976, when they went 0-9 before finishing 3-11. Here's a look at four things to watch tonight as the Giants try to avoid adding to that sorry bit of history.

Missed opportunity? The Bears are incredibly banged up at defensive tackle, where key players like Henry Melton, Nate Collins and Stephen Paea are either out for the year or have been missing time lately due to injury. This theoretically makes the Bears vulnerable to the run. But the Giants have the worst rushing offense in the NFL this year and are without starting running back David Wilson, who has a neck injury and won't play. It's theoretically possible that Brandon Jacobs and/or Da'Rel Scott could have a good game against that depleted Chicago front, but they've shown little this year that would lead anyone to expect it.

Remembering better times: It's hard to forget the game three years ago in which the Giants sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler nine times in the first half and he couldn't come out to play the second. That was an all-time pinnacle game for the storied Giants pass rush, but with just five sacks in five games so far this year the Giants do not appear to be that sort of team anymore. The Bears have started the same five offensive linemen in every game this year and are protecting Cutler much better than they did in the past. Jason Pierre-Paul is long overdue for a big game and could be a difference-maker for the Giants defense if he can get off his blocks.

Can they protect the ball? At all? With key defensive players such as Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman game-time decisions with injuries, the Bears may not be positioned as well as they usually would to force the Giants into turnovers. The Giants have turned the ball over 20 times this year, eight more than any other team in the league. Eli Manning has thrown a league-leading 12 interceptions. The Bears have 14 takeaways, the third-highest figure in the league. If the Giants only turn it over twice in this game, they would have to consider the night something of a success.

Covering the big guys: Bears wide receivers Brandon Marshall (6-4, 230) and Alshon Jeffery (6-3, 216) are big and physical and can present matchup problems for smaller defensive backs. Prince Amukamara should be able to hold his own at one of the Giants' cornerback spots, but watch the matchup with 5-9, 185-pound third-stringer Trumaine McBride against whichever of the big guys Amukamara's not covering on a given play.
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.