Giants must shuffle defense vs. Redskins

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
3:55
PM ET
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.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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