NFC East: Brandon Jacobs

I credit New York Giants rookie running back Andre Williams for staying level-headed amid breathless NFL post-draft hype. Someone asked him Tuesday about whether he, Rashad Jennings and a healthy David Wilson could create a "three-headed monster" at running back. His answer was, basically, that everybody should slow down with that kind of talk.

"I can't really say they're going to build that three-headed monster," said Williams, the 2013 NCAA rushing yards leader the Giants took in the fourth round of the draft. "I'm not really too sure yet. I'm just getting here and learning as much as I can. I think each running back brings a lot of different specialties, and I'm just excited to see what we'll be able to do once we're out on the field."

Good for Williams for the straight talk. One of the things I hate most about NFL analysis is the extent to which it seeks examples from the past to cling to. The Giants won the Super Bowl at the end of the 2007 season with a "three-headed monster" of Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw at running back. In no way does that mean (a) that's the way they like to handle running back; or (b) that it can or should be expected to work again with the current group. None of the Giants' current running backs has accomplished anything close to what Jacobs and Bradshaw accomplished in their careers, and the plain fact is the Giants will be very fortunate if any one of them ever comes close.

No one knows if Wilson will ever play again following neck surgery. Indications are that he will, but no one knows for sure yet. Jennings hasn't been a full-time starter for an extended period of time in the league, and no one knows how he'll do in that role. And Williams is a fourth-round pick who needs to get used to the speed of the NFL game, his pass-protection responsibilities ... everything, really, as he appears to know. Peyton Hillis is likely still ahead of him on the depth chart and could stay there into the season. Williams has to earn his way up the ladder like any Giants rookie, and part of the point of having depth at running back is to make sure they don't need to rush him.

I had as much fun watching Williams as anyone did last year. I think Wilson is electrifying when healthy. And I think the Giants' reasoning on Jennings is sound, looking at him as a lightly used guy who could be about to hit his prime late, even if they did jump the market a bit to sign him. But man, there are still a lot of unknowns here. And the odds are nearly 100 percent that, however it works out, it will look different than any running back arrangement the Giants have used in the past. Heck, it's an entirely new offense this year, in case anyone forgot about that.

Let's let Wilson get healthy and let Williams develop along his own track and let Jennings be the lead dog, as he was signed to be, and see whether he performs in the role. If you followed the Giants last year, you saw tons of examples of things not going according to plan at running back. Don't be in a rush to anoint anyone anything. The Giants like their stable of backs, as long as they're all healthy, and they'll let it play out according to what they see. Not what they saw seven years ago.

Giants' practice report: Usual suspects

December, 12, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Cornerback Corey Webster and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul were on the exercise bikes while their New York Giants teammates participated in the portion of practice open to the media on Thursday. Safety Cooper Taylor was not present.

Webster has been practicing on a limited basis due to his ankle injury but has not played since Oct. 27, and the fact that he worked some Wednesday but didn't appear to be working Thursday bodes ill for his chances of playing Sunday against the Seahawks. It's possible he's played his last game as a Giant. And it's certain that he's not making things easy on his agent.

Pierre-Paul has missed the past two games with a shoulder injury, and during recent weeks there have been times when he wasn't present at practice at all. So the fact that he's out there, wearing a jersey and pedaling a bike, could be counted as progress. Or it could be a sign he had nothing else to do. Either way, since it's been so long since he's practiced, it's hard to envision Pierre-Paul playing Sunday even if he's able to get back on the practice field Friday. He may have played his final game of the season.

Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, who missed Wednesday's practice with various leg injuries, was back at practice Thursday. So was cornerback Terrell Thomas, who sits out every Wednesday to rest his surgically repaired knee.

And running back Brandon Jacobs, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday, had surgery Wednesday on his knee. The team said Jacobs had cartilage grafting to repair osteoarthritis, which obviously sounds awful and difficult to come back from.

Injury report: McBride questionable

December, 6, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants starting cornerback Trumaine McBride (groin) is questionable for Sunday's game against San Diego after being limited in practice all week.

McBride missed last Sunday's game against Washington after suffering an injury the previous week against Dallas.

"He looks like he's going to be OK," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

The Giants will be without Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) and Corey Webster (ankle) against the Chargers, while Brandon Jacobs (knee) is doubtful. Brandon Myers (groin) is probable.

Here's the full injury report:


DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder/did not practice)
CB Corey Webster (ankle/limited)

RB Brandon Jacobs (knee/did not practice)

CB Trumaine McBride (groin/limited)

TE Brandon Myers (groin/limited)
CB Terrell Thomas (knee/limited)


LB Jarret Johnson (hand/full)
WR Eddie Royal (toe/chest/did not practice)

OT King Dunlap (neck/full)
OT D.J. Fluker (ankle/limited)
DE Lawrence Guy (toe/full)
C Nick Hardwick (neck/full)
WR LaVelle Hawkins (knee/full)
DE Corey Liuget (knee/full)

Practice report: No JPP or Jacobs

December, 6, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's not looking good for New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) as he was not practicing during the open portion of practice on Friday. Pierre-Paul would miss his second straight game if he can't play on Sunday at San Diego.

Running back Brandon Jacobs (knee) missed his second straight day of practice and might not play either. The plan was for him to play Friday, but he was in the stationary bike area during the open portion. He was limited Wednesday.

Cornerback Corey Webster (ankle), cornerback Trumaine McBride (groin),and tight end Brandon Myers (groin) were all working. Webster and McBride were limited both Wednesday and Thursday, while Myers missed Thursday.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul wasn't practicing, but he was out on the field during the portion of practice that was open to the media Wednesday. Pierre-Paul was well off to the side working with trainers, which doesn't sound like much but is actually an improvement over last week, when he wasn't seen at practice at all. Pierre-Paul missed Sunday's game with a shoulder injury, and his status for this week's game in San Diego is very much in doubt. There remains a possibility that the Giants could shut down Pierre-Paul for the rest of the season (which is only four more games) if he doesn't show improvement this week, but the team has so far resisted that due to its faint-but-not-yet-extinguished mathematical postseason chances.

In terms of other injuries, cornerbacks Corey Webster (ankle) and Trumaine McBride (groin) were both doing some work during the open portion of practice, as was running back Brandon Jacobs (knee). Cornerback Terrell Thomas was getting his weekly scheduled day off for maintenance on his surgically repaired knee, so he was off to the side. And left tackle Will Beatty, while not on the pre-practice injury report, appeared to need some extra stretching work on his back with the trainers before he could join his teammates for practice, so that's something to watch. Beatty had a rough game Sunday in Washington, but I honestly have no idea what their reasonable options are for arranging the offensive line if he were to be injured.

Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who missed the Week 12 game against Dallas with an abdominal injury and was limited in practice last Wednesday and Thursday, was not listed on the injury report and appeared fine during practice.

Giants' inactives are as expected

December, 1, 2013
LANDOVER, Md. -- No surprises on the New York Giants' list of inactive players for Sunday night's game against the Redskins here at FedEx Field. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, running back Brandon Jacobs and cornerbacks Corey Webster and Trumaine McBride were all ruled out Friday, quarterback Ryan Nassib is always inactive and the other two are backup offensive lineman Stephen Goodin and tight end Adrien Robinson, who's been inactive all year.

Jayron Hosley starts at the left cornerback spot that used to be Webster's and has been McBride's in recent weeks. Mathias Kiwanuka starts at right defensive end in place of Pierre-Paul, though you can probably look for rookie Damontre Moore to get into the mix at defensive end at some point. And with centers David Baas and Jim Cordle both on injured reserve and out for the season, Kevin Boothe will start at center while James Brewer replaces Boothe at left guard. Peyton Hillis, inactive the past two weeks, will replace Jacobs as the backup running back when starter Andre Brown needs a break.

The issues in the secondary, where the Giants' only healthy cornerbacks are Hosley, Prince Amukamara, Terrell Thomas and raw rookie Charles James, could be helped by the injury issues the Redskins are having on offense. Dynamic rookie tight end Jordan Reed, who missed last week's game with a concussion, was initially expected to play tonight but was ruled inactive after experiencing a pregame headache. And fullback Darrel Young, an unsung key to the running game and the success of Alfred Morris, is also inactive due to a hamstring injury. Evan Royster is listed as the starter at fullback in Young's place, but that likely means the Redskins will change some things about the way they call plays in the run game.

Reed is the No. 2 target of quarterback Robert Griffin III in the passing game, and his absence means the Giants should be able to commit extra attention to top wideout Pierre Garcon due to the lack of scary options behind him.

Much more as the night progresses here at FedEx Field.

W2W4: Giants at Redskins

December, 1, 2013
The NFL had higher hopes for this week's New York Giants-Washington Redskins game when it scheduled it for the Week 13 Sunday night time slot. Hasn't worked out. The Giants limp in with a 4-7 record to take on the 3-8 Redskins, who come off a short week and a miserable beating at the hands of the 49ers. Here are a couple of things to watch for in tonight's 8:30 pm ET game at FedEx field in Landover, Md.

Andre Brown and more Andre Brown: A struggling Redskins run defense lost defensive end Stephen Bowen to injury this year and should have a hard time against the Giants' drastically improved run game. With Brandon Jacobs out due to a knee injury, the less fearsome Peyton Hillis will serve as Brown's backup, which makes the Giants less potent in short-yardage situations. But they still ought to be able to dictate the flow of the game on offense behind Brown. Expect the Giants to run to set up the pass and to lean hard on Brown on early downs.

Who covers whom? Wide receiver Pierre Garcon is the No. 1 threat in the Redskins' passing game, and he lit up the Giants for 106 yards and a touchdown on eight catches last year in a Week 13 game in Landover. After Garcon, the No. 2 target for quarterback Robert Griffin III is dynamic rookie tight end Jordan Reed, but he missed last week's game with a concussion and is questionable for this one. If Reed does play, the Giants will have to be creative in coverage against him and Garcon, since they're down to only four healthy cornerbacks, two of whom (Jayron Hosley and Charles James) have played minimally this season. The Giants fear the Redskins' rushing attack most of all, so the safeties are likely to be helping in run support. Guys like Prince Amukamara and Terrell Thomas will have to win their one-on-one battles in the secondary.

Is this the week for Eli Manning? This question shows up in W2W4 every week, it seems, as the Giants' quarterback is suffering through his worst season since his rookie season. The Giants threw for just 154 yards last week against the Cowboys' league-worst passing defense, but Washington's 271 passing yards allowed per game represent the sixth-highest total in the league, so this is another opportunity to get untracked. The likely return of wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who was inactive last week after missing practice due to an abdominal injury, should help with Manning's opportunity.

Pressuring RG III: Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will miss tonight's game with a shoulder injury, which weakens the Giants' pass rush. The 49ers showed on Monday that the way to disrupt Robert Griffin III and the Washington offense is to get into the backfield right away and keep Griffin surrounded so as to limit his options. Can an untested rookie defensive end such as Damontre Moore handle the complexities of stopping the read-option? Can veteran defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins function as an end if asked to do the same? The extent to which the Giants can replace Pierre-Paul on the side opposite Justin Tuck is something to watch in this game.

Paul still sick; Reed, Young questionable

November, 29, 2013
ASHBURN Va. -- Washington Redskins tight end Niles Paul missed practice for a third straight day with a sickness, which likely will limit his participation in Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said Paul is still at home recovering from an illness. He said Paul was suffering from nausea and a headache. Shanahan said Paul was given antibiotics and was feeling better Friday.

However, even if he starts to feel better it would be difficult for Paul to play much.

“If he did play it would be more of a special-teams role,” Shanahan said.

Paul is the Redskins' third tight end and if rookie Jordan Reed plays as expected, then Paul wouldn’t have a big role from scrimmage anyway. The only way he might have is if fullback Darrel Young can’t play because of his hamstring. Paul or one of the tight ends would fill in for Young.

This also could mean Fred Davis is active for a second consecutive week.

Young, Paul and Reed, recovering from a concussion, are listed as questionable. Reed was limited for a third straight day. The Redskins have said he'll be able to play barring the return of any symptoms. Young will be a game-time decision.

For the New York Giants, four players already are out: running back Brandon Jacobs (knee), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder), cornerback Trumaine McBride (groin) and cornerback Corey Webster (ankle).

Redskins notes: Reed limited in practice

November, 27, 2013
ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed was limited in practice Wednesday, a positive step in his recovery from a concussion.

Reed did not play against San Francisco on Monday because of the concussion suffered a week earlier at Philadelphia.

“If there are no setbacks, he should be OK,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said.

The Redskins could have used Reed on Monday night, as the tight ends struggled with the speed and athleticism of the 49ers' outside linebackers.

Tight end Niles Paul (illness) and fullback Darrel Young (hamstring) did not practice.

Meanwhile, for the New York Giants, running back Brandon Jacobs (knee), cornerback Trumaine McBride (groin), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) and cornerback Terrell Thomas (knee) did not practice. Receiver Hakeem Nicks (abdomen) and corner Corey Webster (ankle) were limited.

In other news:
  • The Redskins still have one roster spot to fill after releasing corner Jerome Murphy and placing defensive end Stephen Bowen on injured reserve Tuesday. Shanahan said they’re considering a couple of players, but that there is no rush. It might take until the end of the week before they sign another player.
  • Shanahan said he was reluctant to use Santana Moss earlier this season on punts. But after numerous struggles on that unit, he turned to Moss on Monday. (Moss returned one punt for 13 yards.) "I talked to Santana and wanted to know if he wanted to go back there and he said, 'Coach, anything to help the team out,'" Shanahan said. "Sometimes, I don’t always want to put a veteran back there for obvious reasons, but he said, 'Hey, whatever I can do to help the football team I want to do,' and I thought he was our best choice to get a little spark going."

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

November, 24, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 24-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys:

What it means: You have to think it's over now, right? The Giants' four-game winning streak came to an end in a tough game in which Dan Bailey's 35-yard field goal went through the uprights as time ticked away, and now they are 4-7 with five games left in their season. The Giants ran the ball well, but Eli Manning and the passing game couldn't even get 200 yards against a pass defense that was allowing a league-worst 313 yards per game coming in. Now, the Giants need to win all five of their December games just to finish above .500. Dreams of a miracle run to the playoffs all but died in the cold at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Stock watch: The running game -- UP. The Giants ran for more than 200 yards in a game for the first time since Oct. 7 of last year. Andre Brown went over 100 yards for the second time in his three games this season, and Brandon Jacobs contributed with a couple of surprisingly big plays. His 37-yard gain in the first half was the first Giants' run play of the season that covered at least 20 yards. The interior of the offensive line, even after losing center Jim Cordle to a knee injury, did a fine job of opening holes for the running backs, and the Giants stuck with the run even though they were trailing all game.

Sacks are back: After being largely absent during the season-opening, six-game losing streak, the Giants pass rush has returned over the past month. They sacked Tony Romo four times Sunday. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins collected two by himself as the interior of the Giants defensive line continues to be a consistent strength of the team.

Bonehead plays: There were plenty both ways, but Mathias Kiwanuka picked up a couple of damaging personal-foul calls that ranked among the lowlights of the 11 penalties assessed against the Giants. The Cowboys were called for 11 as well.

What's next: The Giants play their first road game since Oct. 27 when they travel to Washington for an 8:30 p.m. ET game against the Redskins next Sunday night. The Redskins are 3-7 heading into this week's "Monday Night Football" game against the 49ers.

Cowboys run D to be tested too

November, 23, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have offered up little resistance with their pass defense. They are allowing 313 yards per game through the air, worst in the league.

Eli Manning started it all off with 450 yards passing in the season opener with four touchdown passes. He was intercepted three times, but he has had his way with the Cowboys at times in his career.

But part of the Giants’ resurgence lately has not been with Manning leading the way. It’s been with a ball control offense. On a conference call Wednesday Giants coach Tom Coughlin made note of how much the Giants have run the ball in their four-game winning streak: 31, 32, 38 and 24 times.

“That’s what they used to do, run the ball and then play-action to pass it,” defensive tackle Nick Hayden said. “They’re just trying to get back to it and being balanced instead of just throwing the ball the whole time.”

It’s not that the Giants have run it great. They are averaging fewer than 3 yards per carry, but Andre Brown, Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis can be bruising backs. The Cowboys have faced mostly shiftier backs in LeSean McCoy, Reggie Bush and Jamaal Charles.

“Just harder to bring down guys and they can break a lot of tackles,” Hayden said. “We’ve got to be more physical.”

And as bad as the pass defense has been, the Cowboys allowed the New Orleans Saints to rush for 242 yards in their last game.

“We just got the details, be where we’re supposed to be at when we’re supposed to be there,” defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said. “We’ve been playing with a lot of guys, just here and there filling guys in. We’ve been banged up, but I’m not the guy to make excuses. We’ve got to do better. We just have to go out here and concentrate on it and take it one step at a time and we’ll be OK.”
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants officially list wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who has been limited in practice this week with an abdominal strain, as questionable for Sunday's game against the Cowboys. Nicks missed practice Wednesday and was a limited participant Thursday and Friday, and Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the injury is keeping Nicks from "probably being full speed."

But Nicks said after Friday's practice that there had been "no change" since Thursday, when he insisted he'd play in the game.

"I feel good," he said.

Also listed as questionable was running back Brandon Jacobs, who has a knee injury but played last week and is likely to be active again ahead of Peyton Hillis. Cornerback Corey Webster, who has played in only parts of two games since Week 2 due to groin and ankle problems, has officially been declared out for the game.

All other Giants who have appeared on the injury report this week, including defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, fullback John Conner and cornerback Trumaine McBride, are listed as probable.

Upon Further Review: Giants Week 11

November, 18, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- An examination of four hot issues from the New York Giants' 27-13 victory against the Green Bay Packers:

Anatomy of a game-changer: Linebacker Jon Beason said part of the scouting report on the Packers' Scott Tolzien was that the ball came out of his hand on a low trajectory. So if the Packers were going to be taking three-step drops all night, as they were, the Giants' pass-rushers were instructed to get their hands up quickly to try to bat down the ball. Jason Pierre-Paul knew this, and he said he also knew, right before that fourth-quarter play, that Tolzien was going to throw a screen pass to his side of the field. So Pierre-Paul stayed home instead of rushing and threw his hands up in the air. But he didn't want to bat down the ball; he wanted to catch it. Which he did. And then he ran 24 yards for the game-sealing touchdown.

Don't blame Eli for this one: Eli Manning's second-quarter interception was his league-leading 17th of the year, but it was clearly not his fault. Wide receiver Louis Murphy was supposed to break inside -- Giants coach Tom Coughlin said there was no option on the route, and that Murphy just blew it. What was weirder, though, was that Murphy was on the field instead of Hakeem Nicks, who appeared to hurt himself on a play earlier in the drive on which Tramon Williams was called for pass interference. Nicks sat out a few plays, and after the Murphy blunder some teammates went over to talk to and encourage Nicks, who returned to the game on the next drive and didn't want to talk after the game about what was bothering him.

Getting the ball: After allowing an average of only 206.3 yards per game during the first three games of their winning streak, the Giants gave up 394 to the Packers on Sunday. But they also got three turnovers, giving them a total of 11 during their four-game winning streak after forcing only seven during the first six games of the year. They have won the turnover battle in three of their past four games.

Looking ahead: Pierre-Paul said of the Cowboys, who come to town next week, "We're going to put it on them, man." Brandon Jacobs said, "Playing the Cowboys is always good. That's one of the opponents I love to play more than anybody in the National Football League. It means something to our football team." The Giants moved the ball against a relatively full-strength Cowboys defense in Week 1 but lost mainly because they turned it over six times. They are eager for revenge against a Cowboys defense that will be without middle linebacker Sean Lee. If the Giants' offensive line can protect Manning, the game could be a shootout. That's a big "if," but Manning's 279 passing yards Sunday were his most since Week 5, his 71.4 completion percentage was by far his highest of the season and his 92.4 passer rating was his highest since the opener in Dallas.

Andre Brown fine with TD vulture Jacobs

November, 17, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- His fantasy football owners may not be as forgiving, but New York Giants running back Andre Brown was just fine with Brandon Jacobs scoring the one-yard touchdown at the end of the Giants' long third-quarter drive Sunday.

"B.J., he's a big back, and last year I played most of the short yardage and goal line, so I was on the other end," Brown said after the 27-13 victory against the Green Bay Packers. "This week it was Brandon coming to get me, where last year I was coming to get Ahmad Bradshaw out. So it's all good as long as we get the score. B.J., he keeps that pile moving, and we're good."

Jacobs hadn't played since injuring his hamstring rushing for 106 yards in the Week 6 loss to the Bears. Brown made his season debut in last week's victory against the Oakland Raiders, rushing for 115 yards on 30 carries in his first game back since breaking his leg in the preseason. With Jacobs active for Sunday's game, Peyton Hillis went to the bench and the Giants pummeled the Packers with two huge running backs. Brown ended up with 66 yards on 18 carries. Jacobs had only nine yards on five carries, but two of those carries converted short fourth-down attempts and another was a touchdown.

"We're just going to hit everybody in the mouth, and that's what it is," Brown said. "B.J., he's a spark out there. He's a leader. He's the guy. He's going to keep me motivated, keep the whole offensive line motivated, and that's what we're going to do. We're going to go out there and bang it up."

A reliable running game is critical to the success of the play-action passing game with which the Giants have struggled for so much of this year. It's critical to improvements in pass protection, which has been a trouble spot all season. But the actual production they're getting with Brown as the lead guy in the backfield is a major plus as well.

"The balance part of the thing is what we were striving to accomplish," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "And I think we are accomplishing that to a certain extent."

Brown is just happy to be playing, and to be the main man in the backfield after sharing the stage with David Wilson in the preseason and watching the first nine games of the regular-season from the sidelines. So if Jacobs is going to get his touchdowns, you're not going to hear him complaining about it. Brown got eight of them last year in only 10 games. Right now he's playing, on a team that's winning its games, and that's all that matters.

Locker Room Buzz: New York Giants

November, 17, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Observed in the locker room following the New York Giants' 27-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers:

The second "P" stands for "prescient": Justin Tuck interrupted Jason Pierre-Paul's postgame news conference to inform reporters that Pierre-Paul had predicted his game-clinching interception in the huddle prior to the play. Pierre-Paul said he saw the Packers' formation, figured out that they were running a screen pass to his side, and jumped at the line to get both hands on a pass he knew was coming. He returned the interception 24 yards for a touchdown that set the final score at 27-13. "I told him I'd only seen one other guy make that play, and it was another No. 90," said linebacker Jon Beason, referring to his former Carolina Panthers teammate, Julius Peppers.

Team game: Running back Andre Brown said he didn't care that Brandon Jacobs vultured his goal-line touchdown because he [Brown] did the same thing many times last year to Ahmad Bradshaw. "As long as we get the score and B.J. keeps the pile moving, it's all good."

Aw, shucks: Told that his teammates gave him credit for the in-season turnaround of the defense, Beason grinned and said, "Well, they're nice guys."