NFC East: Terrell Thomas

The second day of free agency offered a little bit of everything for the New York Giants. They reached agreement on a new deal with middle linebacker Jon Beason, which was a good thing. They lost out on wide receiver/kick returner Jacoby Jones, who re-signed with the Ravens. Their Tuesday deal with pass-rusher O'Brien Schofield fell apart when questions surfaced about his knee during his physical. And they signed a young center who hasn't played since 2012 but could well be in line to start for them in 2014.

A variety of activity for a team embarking on a major offseason roster rebuild. Here's a look at where things stand with those and other Giants-related situations as we turn our attention to Day 3:

Tuck
The pass rush: Free-agent defensive end Justin Tuck was in Oakland on Wednesday to visit the Raiders. The Giants offered Tuck a contract prior to the start of free agency, but the offer was not to his liking, and he's out testing the market to see whether someone will pay him something closer to what he thinks he's worth. If that doesn't happen -- or if he can generate enough interest elsewhere to convince the Giants to improve their offer -- there remains a chance Tuck could be back with the Giants. But the sense I get is that Tuck is disappointed that the Giants haven't tried harder to keep him and that he's seriously considering leaving.

Odd as it may sound, the Schofield situation could help Tuck's case. The Giants agreed with Schofield on a two-year, $8 million contract on Tuesday because they viewed him as a pass-rusher. Now that that deal has fallen apart, the Giants have to look elsewhere for pass-rush help, and bringing Tuck back might be more important than they thought it was 24 hours ago. Not that Schofield was ever going to be a one-for-one Tuck replacement, but they're hoping to stock up on overall pass-rush depth, and losing Tuck would push them in the other direction.

Tuck was still meeting with the Raiders late Wednesday night, and it's entirely possible they could convince him to stay out there. The Raiders had a bit of a rough day, as you may have heard, and need to spend money on someone.

Schwartz
The offensive line: The Giants announced the signing of free agent Geoff Schwartz, who is slated to play left guard with Chris Snee at right guard and ... well, someone at center. They also announced the signing of J.D. Walton, who was the Broncos' starting center in 2010 and 2011 before a serious ankle injury knocked him out in early 2012. Walton missed the entire 2013 season while recovering from the injury, but he doesn't turn 27 until later this month and could be an upside play for them at center -- a potential right-away and long-term starter at the position if he's healthy.

However, with David Baas having been cut, there's no way the Giants can stand on Walton as their only option at center. They haven't ruled out the possibility of re-signing Kevin Boothe to play center, and the fact remains that the top centers on the market haven't signed anywhere. So it's possible they could still get into the mix for someone like Evan Dietrich-Smith, Brian De La Puente or Ryan Wendell. Remember, Snee is no sure thing coming off his second hip surgery in as many years, and the Giants need offensive line depth in the worst way. If they ended up with a healthy Snee, a healthy Walton, Schwartz and another top-level center as interior line options for 2014, that would be a nice problem to have.

The Giants also had former Rams guard Shelley Smith in for a visit Wednesday. Smith is regarded as a top run-blocker who struggles in pass protection, but he's young still. Smith is scheduled to visit the Patriots today, so he's no sure thing to sign. Point is, the Giants know their needs on the line are extensive, and they're working to fix them.

Cornerback: The Giants did place an exploratory call to the Buccaneers a few days ago when they put Darrelle Revis on the market. But those talks went nowhere, and the Giants weren't a factor once Revis was cut Wednesday. He signed with the Patriots almost immediately, as though that had been the plan all along.

The Giants continue to look for a cornerback to go with Prince Amukamara and Trumaine McBride, and they had Tracy Porter in for a visit Wednesday. Porter left the building without a deal, but that doesn't mean he won't sign. Several other cornerback options remain available on the market, and it's possible the Giants could find one in the first or second round of the draft.

Jilted by Jacoby: The Giants wanted Jones. They saw him as a game-changer as a return man, and they desperately want to upgrade their return units in 2014. But they also saw Jones as someone who could help as a wide receiver -- something that, say, Devin Hester doesn't offer. So while they could go out and get someone like Hester for returns, they have been hoping their answer for the return game could also contribute something else. I haven't heard what Plan B is on this. Maybe someone like Ted Ginn Jr. We shall see. They'll still need a wide receiver to replace Hakeem Nicks, unless they think Rueben Randle can elevate himself to that level in time for 2014.

Assorted tidbits: Cornerback Terrell Thomas was also scheduled to visit the Raiders. Thomas has not received any contract offer from the Giants, who seem content to let him walk. ... Linebacker Keith Rivers signed a two-year, $5 million deal with the Buffalo Bills. ... The Giants re-signed Curtis Painter, who was Eli Manning's backup quarterback in 2013. Training camp will tell whether Ryan Nassib is ready to beat him out or will have to spend another year as the No. 3 quarterback. ... In answer to many of your Twitter questions, I'm hearing nothing about the Giants and tight ends. No tight ends have signed yet, though.
Linebacker Jon Beason got a lot of credit for his role in the New York Giants' in-season defensive turnaround in 2013. But on Wednesday, he got something even better than credit -- he got a new contract. The Giants and Beason have agreed on a deal that will keep the free-agent linebacker with the team. And while it's a bit out of character for the Giants to make linebacker a priority, this was an important move for them to make.

Beason
First of all, the extent to which the Giants have overlooked the linebacker position in recent years has been a detriment, and they've ignored the extent to which it's hurt them. It's fine to prioritize the pass rush and the secondary in this day and age, but to leave linebacker as barren as it was prior to the Beason trade last year is pure negligence. I'm sure every Giants fan can recall games in 2010, 2011 and 2012 where a familiar division opponent like the Eagles picked them apart over the middle with short stuff. It's how Tony Romo and the Cowboys took them apart in Week 1 in Dallas just this past year.

Beason's arrival in exchange for the low, low price of a seventh-round draft pick at the end of September changed things. Not only did he play well, showing surprising sideline-to-sideline speed and energy for a guy who'd had leg injuries and tumbled down the Panthers' depth chart, but he also eagerly and effectively assumed the role of defensive leader. The Giants instantly installed him as the middle linebacker and gave him the responsibility for relaying the defensive calls on the field. They needed someone in the middle of the field who could get and keep everyone organized, and Beason offered that to an extentDan Connor and Mark Herzlich could not. The players believed in him and respected him, and the way he played and led justified it.

So you can argue that Beason's performance is what convinced the Giants to finally spend for a linebacker for a change. I don't know what they spent yet. I know they thought they could sign him for something in the $3 million or $4 million per year range. I know there were other teams interested, and Beason was holding that over the Giants' heads in negotiations as recently as Wednesday morning, so it's possible they ended up spending a bit more than they projected. But I'm sure it's not a contract that will break the bank, given where the market is for inside linebackers league-wide. And considering they're surely losing Terrell Thomas and possibly defensive co-captain Justin Tuck from the leadership ranks of that defense -- and defensive co-captain Antrel Rolle is only signed for one more year -- Beason has value to the Giants that goes beyond any stats he might put in the box score.
The New York Giants have reached an agreement with cornerback Trumaine McBride on a two-year, $3.1 million deal, per ESPN and media reports.

McBride
It's a nice re-signing for the Giants. After a year out of the league in 2012, McBride joined the Giants in 2013 and found himself a starting cornerback following injuries to Corey Webster and Aaron Ross, and he played much better than expected. He was likely to draw interest from other teams had he hit the open market at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, so if he's a guy the Giants liked, good for them for keeping that from happening. If nothing else, he's an insurance policy in case they get shut out in their pursuit of a top free-agent cornerback or can't find one early in the draft.

But signing McBride should not deter the Giants from those pursuits. They have expressed interest in several of the top cornerbacks on the market, and they would be much better off in the secondary if they could land someone like Alterraun Verner or Captain Munnerlyn or one of the many cornerbacks hitting the market Tuesday afternoon. That would enable them to use McBride as the nickel corner or as a reliable backup to their inside and outside starters. That's the ideal role for a guy like McBride. The Giants used him as a starter in 2013 and know they can do it again in a pinch, but their preference would be to get a premier guy who pushes McBride down the depth chart a bit, strengthening them overall at this important position.

It appears as though veteran Terrell Thomas, who served as the Giants' nickel corner in 2013, will hit the open market. 2012 third-round pick Jayron Hosley is still looked at as a guy who can play the nickel, but injuries have hampered his development.

Big Blue Morning: Happy New Year

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
9:30
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Yeah, that's right. Free agency begins today at 4 pm ET along with the start of the new NFL league year. That means the New York Giants, who by my count need at least 10 new starters and a whole bunch of depth, are going to get busy figuring out what their 2014 roster is going to look like.

The industry scuttlebutt this morning is the Giants will sign a center quickly, as they did three years ago with David Baas when the market opened. They have decided to release Baas, as you learned Monday, and with nothing behind him on the current roster, center becomes a priority item. The Packers' Evan Dietrich-Smith makes a lot of sense and could be the guy they sign right away, within minutes or hours of the opening of the market. Dietrich-Smith turns 28 in July, and new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo knows him from their work together in Green Bay. The Giants also have spoken with the agents for Saints free-agent center Brian de la Puente and others.

The Giants also are known to be looking at cornerbacks. They are close to an agreement with Trumaine McBride, who became a starter for them last year after Corey Webster and Aaron Ross got hurt. But they see McBride as a valuable reserve or swing corner who can play inside or outside. They'd prefer not to have to rely on him as a starter on the outside if they can help it. Now, obviously, the biggest name on the cornerback market all of a sudden is Darrelle Revis, who is apparently about to get cut by the Buccaneers. If the Giants want to play in the deep end of the cornerback pool, they would have to at least check on Revis. My guess is that he'll cost more than they want to pay, but they'd be crazy not to look into it. The Giants have about $25 million in salary cap space right now, and while they have a lot of needs, that's enough to enable them to afford anyone.

The Giants also continue to work on a new deal for linebacker Jon Beason, though it seems as if he's interested in finding out what else is out there for him. Remember, because Beason is acting as his own agent, he hasn't yet been able to have the conversations with teams that other agents have had about their players for the past three days. So, assuming everyone's been following the rules, Beason doesn't yet know what his market is. Once he finds out, he could decide the Giants' offer is the best he'll do. But he owes it to himself to find out.

Other than McBride, it seems the only Giants free agents who'll be locked up by 4 pm ET are kicker Josh Brown and possibly running back Peyton Hillis. That means Beason, Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph, Terrell Thomas, Stevie Brown, Hakeem Nicks and all the rest should be on the market when it opens. Of that list, I'd guess Beason and Brown are the most likely to be back, and I wouldn't rule out Tuck just yet. The others are looking for bigger paydays than the Giants are willing to offer right now.

Stay tuned throughout the day, of course. We'll have plenty of coverage, including a live chat with all of our NFL reporters that runs from 2 p.m. ET to 10 p.m. ET. I'll be popping in and out of there as news warrants, but the chat should be active all day with news from around the league. Stop by at this link right here. Catch up with you later.

Top free-agent roundup: NFC East

March, 10, 2014
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Here are the top 15 free agents, followed by their rankings, entering Tuesday's signing period as compiled by NFC East reporters Dan Graziano, Todd Archer, Phil Sheridan and John Keim. There are some strong options at the top, but there is not a lot of depth in the NFC East when it comes to free agency. And if Dallas' DeMarcus Ware gets released, he vaults to a top spot on this list. As always, ESPN's free-agent tracker will keep you updated during this period.

1. LB Brian Orakpo, 8.5: The Redskins used the franchise tag on him, so barring a surprise, he’ll be back. It’s a controversial move among fans, but the Redskins need his pass rush and promise to unleash him more often. His career best for a single season is 11 sacks.

2. DT Linval Joseph, 8: A very big, strong and young (25) interior run-stuffer who has also shown the ability to create pressure from the interior, Joseph could be available because of the Giants’ depth at defensive tackle and their many needs.

3. DT Jason Hatcher, 8: He is coming off an 11-sack season, but he turns 32 in July and Dallas doesn’t have much cap space.

4. LB Jon Beason, 7: The Giants are working hard to sign him before free agency opens, as his leadership and high-energy play at middle linebacker helped transform their defense during the 2013 season.

Nicks
5. WR Hakeem Nicks, 7: This grade is based on talent and past accomplishments, and a feeling that he was being overly careful in 2013 in order to hit free agency healthy. Lacks his early career speed, but knows how to play the position as well as anyone.

6. WR Jason Avant, 7: For a team in need of a third-down possession guy, the sure-handed Avant will be a great value.

7. P Donnie Jones, 7: The Eagles are expected to re-sign Jones, who was an underrated contributor to their NFC East title team.

8. DE Anthony Spencer, 6: He is coming back from microfracture surgery, so the cost won’t be high.

9. LB Perry Riley, 6: The Redskins need to re-sign him because they already have a hole at inside linebacker after London Fletcher retired. But they won’t break the bank for Riley, who needs to improve in coverage.

10. DE Justin Tuck, 6: Coming off an 11-sack season that came out of nowhere after two down years, Tuck turns 31 later this month but is a locker-room leader and a 4-3 defensive end who can set the edge against the run.

Vick
Vick
11. QB Michael Vick, 6: With Nick Foles' ascension, Vick is looking for a chance to start elsewhere.

12. RB Andre Brown, 5: He played very well in his first few games back off a broken leg, but faded down the stretch and fumbled too much in the final few games. He is likely not a guy who can be relied on as a starter, but potentially a valuable piece.

13. TE Brandon Myers, 5: A huge disappointment in New York after catching 79 passes as a Raider in 2012, Myers also contributed little as a blocker. The Giants are likely to let him go. He could fit better with a different system.

14. CB Terrell Thomas, 5: He played all 16 games after missing the previous two seasons because of ACL tears in the same knee. Thomas believes he can hold up as a starter off a real offseason, and would like to cash in.

15. S Danny McCray, 5: He is a core special teamer only, so the Cowboys could find value here.

Free-agency primer: Giants

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
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» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

Key free agents: DT Linval Joseph, LB Jon Beason, WR Hakeem Nicks, DE Justin Tuck, RB Andre Brown, TE Brandon Myers, CB Terrell Thomas, CB Trumaine McBride

Where they stand: The Giants have 23 unrestricted free agents and a crying need to rebuild an offense that bottomed out around quarterback Eli Manning in 2013. They need to find a wide receiver, a running back, a tight end and at least two starting offensive linemen. New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is likely to have some input in the kinds of players they pursue in free agency because he's installing a relatively new offense in New York for the first time in 10 years. They will also need to plug holes on defense if they don't re-sign Beason, Tuck or Joseph. And they could use an upgrade over McBride at cornerback.

What to expect: The Giants are trying to lock up Beason in advance of free agency but haven't yet. Once the market opens Tuesday, expect them to be aggressive in their pursuit of interior offensive linemen. If they find an upgrade at center, they can gain significant cap room by designating David Baas a June 1 cut. But they will go after at least one free-agent guard (Geoff Schwartz, Jon Asamoah, guys like that) and possibly more. Improving the protection of Manning is a primary goal for the Giants this offseason. Beefing up the interior of the line would also help them re-establish the run game. As they pursue wide receivers, keep an eye on players like Dexter McCluster and Golden Tate, who could help the Giants' weak return units.

How the Cowboys handle trash talking

January, 29, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- When Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett talks to his players for the first time, he tells them to be brief and boring with the media.

It’s something the coach has mastered, although he is more forthcoming when the television lights go off.

Hatcher
Hatcher
For a team that has had colorful characters since forever, from Don Meredith to Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson to Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders, the current version of the Cowboys lacks a true trash talker.

Irvin could verbally taunt defensive backs with the best of them. Sanders could do the same with wide receivers. They felt they were the best, and they let everybody know about it.

Dez Bryant might be viewed as the closest, but he does not instigate the talk. He reacts to it. And as we found out after the Detroit Lions game, his actions on the sideline are not always as dastardly as they come off.

When the Cowboys played the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in 2013, they listened to their NFC East rivals chirp all week. Jason Pierre-Paul said “blood would be shed.” Antrel Rolle said the game was the Giants Super Bowl. Terrell Thomas guaranteed a victory.

And the Cowboys won 24-21.

The Cowboys talking came after the game, which is just how Garrett would want it. Jason Hatcher spread fake Vampire blood on his face.

"I just finished eating a Giant," said Hatcher, who had two sacks of Eli Manning. "Y'all didn't see me out there? That's some leftover blood. They said blood is going to be shed, right?"

Later he added, "Action speaks louder than words, so we went out there and did what we were supposed to do tonight. They talked the talk. They had to back it up, and they didn't. We came out with the victory. We came into their house and took it from them."

Twitter mailbag: Will Tuck return?

December, 28, 2013
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Orakpo sits out practice

December, 26, 2013
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ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo did not practice Thursday and his strained groin remains sore, putting his status for Sunday's regular-season finale in jeopardy.

Orakpo
Orakpo will test his groin again Friday. If he can't practice, it's hard to imagine the Redskins putting him on the field given their record (3-12) or the fact that he's a free agent after the season. Orakpo said Tuesday that he wants to play.

"If we feel he can't go, he won't go," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "We're not going to jeopardize his leg to play. It's a little sore right now, but there's still a chance."

Orakpo is the only Redskin who did not practice; everyone else was full participation.

For the Giants, corner Jayron Hosley (illness), corner Trumaine McBride (groin), guard Brandon Mosley (hand), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder), tight end Adrien Robinson (knee) and receiver Reuben Randle (knee) did not practice. Guard David Diehl (knee), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (shin/quad) and corner Terrell Thomas (knee) were limited.

Josh Brown is an NFC Player of the Week

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
2:30
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New York Giants kicker Josh Brown, whose 45-yard field goal in overtime delivered a 23-20 victory against the Lions in Detroit on Sunday, has been named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Lewis
Brown
Brown kicked three field goals in the game -- a 52-yarder and a 41-yarder, in addition to the 45-yard winner. He became the first kicker in Giants history to kick three field goals of 40 yards or longer in the same game.

It's the fifth time in his career Brown has won a Special Teams Player of the Week award, and the first time since Week 8 of the 2009 season, when he was with the Rams. He's the first Giants player to win NFC Special Teams Player of the Week since kick returner David Wilson won it in Week 14 of 2012. He's the first Giants kicker to win it since Lawrence Tynes in Week 3 of 2012.

Brown is also the fourth Giant this week to win an NFC Player of the Week award. Cornerback Terrell Thomas was NFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 8. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul won the same award in Week 11, and defensive end Justin Tuck won it in Week 13.

Giants' practice report: Usual suspects

December, 12, 2013
12/12/13
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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.

Terrell Thomas on USC coaching hire

December, 5, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas is a proud USC alum and retains a strong interest in the goings-on with the football program at his alma mater. So when asked Wednesday what he thought of the school's hiring of Steve Sarkisian as its new head football coach, Thomas had a pretty thorough breakdown.

He approves of the hire of Sarkisian, who recruited him to play at USC in the early 2000s when Sarkisian was on the coaching staff there, though Thomas wishes the school had allowed interim coach Ed Orgeron to finish the season in the role. Orgeron resigned after learning he wasn't getting the full-time job.

Thomas
Thomas
"I love 'Shark,'" Thomas said after Giants' practice Wednesday. "I think he's a great choice. I actually think we're a little bit late hiring him, but I think he's going to be great. He's not just a coordinator. He's a guy who knows how to build a program, manage a program, all aspects of it. He's a head coach.

"At the same time, I don't really like how they did Coach 'O.' I think he should have been allowed to finish the season. You look at what he did, taking over in the middle of the season and getting the players to play. What happened there last year and early this year was about the coaching. Everybody thought it was the players, but it wasn't the players. It was [Lane] Kiffin. And Coach 'O' got them playing hard. I think they should have let him finish the season."

Thomas' impression was that the school thought it would lose Sarkisian to a potential NFL job if it didn't move to hire him now. He also named Boise State's Chris Petersen as a guy he thought deserved consideration for the job.

Though Thomas wishes Orgeron could have had a better exit, he understands why he wouldn't be considered for the job full-time.

"When you don't beat UCLA or Notre Dame, it's hard," Thomas said.
Pierre-Paul
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.

W2W4: Giants at Redskins

December, 1, 2013
12/01/13
11:00
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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.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The news that New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and cornerbacks Trumaine McBride and Corey Webster are out for Sunday's game against the Redskins means the Giants will have to do some interesting juggling of their defensive lineup. Webster's injury doesn't sound like it matters much by now, as he's missed almost the whole year, but the Giants had been hoping he could practice enough to fill in for an injured McBride, who has become the starter in Webster's absence. He did not, and now the Giants are left with four healthy cornerbacks for Sunday's game -- Prince Amukamara, Terrell Thomas, Jayron Hosley and untested rookie Charles James.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said starting Hosley in McBride's place (and, presumably, leaving Thomas in the slot) would be a "strong consideration." Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said he thinks Hosley could handle it.

"Jayron has good cover skills," Fewell said. "I think he's a good matchup for some of the quick guys they have in their lineup. So I don't think we'll miss a beat from that standpoint, as far as the quickness and the matchups are concerned."

The issue may be one of depth, as the Giants have very little behind their starters right now if one of them gets hurt or if they decide to go into the kind of dime package that found safety Antrel Rolle overwhelmed in coverage on the Cowboys' final drive of the game Sunday. But the Redskins aren't as loaded with scary receiving threats as the Cowboys are. After top wideout Pierre Garcon, their No. 1 weapon in the receiving corps is rookie tight end Jordan Reed, who missed last week's game with a concussion and is questionable for Sunday.

Up front, where they will look to pressure Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III into the types of mistakes everyone watched him make Monday night against the 49ers, the Giants will obviously miss Pierre-Paul. They could move defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins out to play defensive end (and activate defensive tackle Markus Kuhn for the first time all year to spell Jenkins in the DT rotation), or they could imply increase the snap counts for defensive ends Mathias Kiwanuka or Damontre Moore. But Fewell doesn't think it's as simple as someone stepping into Pierre-Paul's spot.

"Theirs is a difficult offense for any defensive end, because it's a read-option offense, a play-action offense," Fewell said. "They do a number of different things to make the defensive ends think. So it's quite difficult."

The key for the 49ers against Griffin on Monday was their ability to invade the backfield quickly on seemingly every play. The Giants don't have the same kinds of players in their defensive front seven that the 49ers do. (Few teams do, if any, now that Aldon Smith is back in the lineup.) But they'll still need to find a way to get pressure and take some of the burden off their depleted secondary.

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