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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Odell Beckham, Jr. was unstoppable on the field on Sunday. Off the field, he was a little out of control.

And don't think Giants head coach Ben McAdoo didn't notice. In fact, he admitted that his star receiver needs to rein in his sideline antics, one day after Beckham had another emotional outburst during the Giants' 29-27 loss to the Redskins. Late in the game, cameras caught a furious Beckham slamming his helmet into the kicking net, which fell over and hit him square in the face.

Quarterback Eli Manning, who later said he couldn't figure out why Beckham was so angry, tried to calm down the receiver. Several coaches talked to him too.

"He needs to control his emotions better and become less of a distraction to himself and to his teammates," McAdoo said on Monday. "It's our job to help him with that process and maturing."

And how, exactly, is that accomplished?

"It takes a village," McAdoo said.

Beckham was actually very much in control on the field during the game on Sunday, which wasn't a guarantee considering he was shadowed all game by his chief antagonist, Josh Norman. Beckham had seven catches for 121 yards, with most of that damage coming directly against Norman, and his only penalty was for setting an illegal pick.

But as the game unraveled, he unraveled on the sidelines too.

McAdoo said he has dealt with players who've had similar issues before, and there's really only one way to teach them.

"The same way: Communication," he said. "Having a variety of different people, coaches, staff members to communicate with. Just help him direct his focus.

Here's the rest of what McAdoo said during his conference call with reporters on Monday afternoon:

  • McAdoo said there was "no excuse" for the 11 penalties for 128 yards and five personal fouls on Sunday (not to mention three more penalties that weren't accepted). "Our discipline and poise wasn't there like it was in the first two weeks," McAdoo said. "It's something that we addressed in the locker room after. We have to continue to address it and work on it. Get back to the team that we were the first two weeks of the season as far as the penalties go." He also added "When we're not disciplined and poised, that's a reflection on me. I need to make sure that doesn't happen."
  • McAdoo offered no updates on the injuries to CBs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin) and Eli Apple (hamstring). "We're going to give them a chance to get healthy," he said. "We aren't going to rule anyone out right now."
  • S Darian Thompson was examined by a foot specialist, Dr. Robert Anderson, in North Carolina on Monday morning, and McAdoo confirmed what SNY reported earlier: That his foot sprain will not require surgery. McAdoo didn't give a timetable on his return, but a source told SNY he would likely be out another week or two. He'll remain in a walking boot and will be reevaluated at some point.
  • McAdoo would not say whether RB Rashad Jennings (thumb) was on track to play next Monday night in Minnesota. "It's one day following the game," he said. "He has a long week to make some progress. We'll take a look at that at the end of the week." With RB Shane Vereen out and Jennings iffy, McAdoo said rookie RB Paul Perkins "is ready to step up."
  • McAdoo on why he called 21 consecutive pass plays at the end of the game: "We felt that we had an opportunity to take advantage of our matchups on the perimeter. We were moving the ball in the pass game. There were some runs that we may have had to get out of due to the box and to the looks. We were being aggressive trying to win the football game."
  • McAdoo on how RT Bobby Hart played, filling in for the injured Marshall Newhouse (calf): "Bobby Hart was out there. He battled and competed. It definitely wasn't too big for him. He has a couple things he needs to clean up. That sack, maybe a hit there. He came out and competed. He went against some good players out there and he held his own."
  • McAdoo on how his team handled its first regular season loss: "No one in the locker room was pleased afterwards. We knew that we were our own worst enemy yesterday."
Tags: Darian Thompson , Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie , Eli Apple , Marshall Newhouse , Odell Beckham Jr. , Rashad Jennings , Shane Vereen , Ralph Vacchiano

 (Robert Deutsch)
(Robert Deutsch)

Giants RB Shane Vereen suffered a triceps injury that will keep him out for at least the next two months, and might turn out to be season-ending.

Vereen will need surgery, the team announced, and will likely be placed on injured reserve later this week. And while the team initially announced the injury as a "season-ending" one, several sources indicate the Giants have hope that Vereen can return in late November.

That's possible due to the NFL's short-term injured reserve rule, which was amended slightly this year. Teams no longer need to declare a player as being on short-term IR. They can simply reactive the player whenever he's eligible. Players can return to practice six weeks after they are placed on IR and play in a game eight weeks after.

The catch is teams can only activate one player off IR each season.

Vereen, if he's placed on IR this week, wouldn't be able to return until the Giants' game in Cleveland on Nov. 27.

Vereen apparently injured his triceps on Sunday, during the Giants' 29-27 loss to the Redskins. McAdoo didn't say exactly when his running back was hurt, but said he believes he played with the injury for a "significant amount of time."

With Vereen out, McAdoo noted the team would fill Vereen's role "by committee", which could be tricky since running back Rashad Jennings missed the Redskins game with a thumb injury and his status is murky for the game in Minnesota next Monday night. If Jennings is out too, the Giants will be left with Orleans Darkwa, who would be the likely starter, with veteran Bobby Rainey and possibly rookie Paul Perkins filling Vereen's third-down back and two-minute back role.

"Shane is a tremendous football player and our thoughts go to him with that tough injury," McAdoo said. "I feel for the player. He's a good football player. We wish him a speedy recovery."


Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The loss of Shane Vereen is a huge blow to the Giants because he was a significant and underrated piece of Ben McAdoo's offensive scheme.

He had a defined role as the third-down back and the back in the two-minute offense because he was more versatile than any back on the roster in terms of rushing, receiving and pass blocking. And the Giants didn't just look at him as a receiver out of the backfield, either. They saw him as a weapon who could -- and sometimes did -- line up as a receiver out wide. It's not that other backs can't do that, but Vereen is way more effective in that role than Rashad Jennings (who now would be even less effective with his injured "thumb"). And there's really no one else on the roster with his unique talent.

The Giants did sign Bobby Rainey, and somewhat surprisingly kept him after final cuts, and he does have a similar skill set. But he's nowhere near as accomplished at any of those duties as Vereen. He will presumably assume that role and he's shown some good explosion, but it's a downgrade, to be sure.

They also have rookie Paul Perkins, and again there's a similar skill set, but he's a rookie who is so raw he was inactive the first two games. He's mostly a special-teamer at the moment, but his progress as an offensive player might have to speed up in the coming weeks.

For now, though, it looks like Jennings or Orleans Darkwa will be the main back and Rainey will assume the Vereen role, though it's unclear if McAdoo will continue with those clearly defined roles in Vereen's absence. The best way to overcome for his loss might be for McAdoo to alter some of his offensive strategy, which understandably is something he probably doesn't want to do.

Tags: Orleans Darkwa , Paul Perkins , Rashad Jennings , Shane Vereen

On this week's show, SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano chats with Art Stapleton of The Record about Big Blue's loss to Washington, including the team's lack of discipline and Ben McAdoo's first coaching crisis. Later, Ralph previews the Giants-Vikings Monday night matchup, and gives his prediction for the game.


 (Robert Deutsch)
(Robert Deutsch)

John Fennelly, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | | Archive Posts

The NFC East, which has been called the NFC "Least" the past few seasons due to their poor performance in the standings, is back with a bang in 2016.

Three of the four teams in the division have winning records and the surprising Philadelphia Eagles are one of the five undefeated teams remaining in the NFL after three weeks.

The Eagles drubbed the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-3, at home on Sunday, validating the 2-0 record they brought into the game. The Dallas Cowboys improved to 2-1 with a 31-17 win over the hapless Chicago Bears.

And, as we all know, the Giants fell to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, 29-27, in a messy affair that still stings.

Philadelphia was initially the underdog in the division, having a new head coach (Doug Pederson) and an uncertain plan at quarterback. But after management decided to trade Sam Bradford to Minnesota and hand rookie Carson Wentz the reins, the plan was accelerated. Wentz has a 103.8 QBR through three games.

The defense, which finished 30th in the NFL in 2015, has turned things around thus far in 2016. They are currently ranked fourth overall and are allowing opponents a league-low nine points per game.

Dallas has a new look as well. With Tony Romo out until midseason, rookie Dak Prescott has managed the offense effectively. They have a run/pass ratio of 50 percent, choosing to feature their top draft pick, RB Ezekiel Elliott, rather than a vertical passing game.

The Cowboys are missing a number of key defensive players, including two top pass-rushers in Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, but are hanging in so far by only allowing opponents 20 points per game. Before their victory in Chicago, the Cowboys lost, 20-19, at home to the Giants and topped the Redskins, 27-23, on the road.

Washington began the season with back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Dallas and relied on the Giants to implode to get into the win column in Week 3. Now that they are on the winning track and QB Kirk Cousins has ironed out some of his issues, last year's division champs could be poised to join the fray in this new era of NFC East football.

The Giants will have to clean up their act on both sides of the ball if they plan on staying in the hunt. On Sunday, they were besieged by bonehead penalties, missed tackles, and frustrating turnovers.

The rest of the NFL is standing up and taking notice, however. For the past six seasons, the NFC East has only sent one team to the playoffs -- the division winner. Will this be the season they reassert their presence in the conference. Stay tuned. It's going to be a wild one.

Tags: John Fennelly

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Justin Pugh was right when he said "Everything you can do to lose a game today, we did." And the Giants (2-1) certainly did lose it. They were in control at the start before a plague of penalties and turnovers helped them throw their game against the Redskins (1-2) away.

And that could be costly because not only did it knock them out of first place in the NFC East -- behind the stunning, 3-0 Philadelphia Eagles -- but it robbed them of their momentum and blew a chance to really bury the defending division champions. In what is still basically a rebuilding season, every positive step matters.

The 29-27 loss to the Redskins was a significant step backwards.

How far backwards did they go? It'll all be clear from my 10 takeaways from the Giants-Redskins game on Sunday:

1.) I find it comical that the Giants seemed irked that the officials were flag-happy in the wake of last year's Josh Norman-Odell Beckham, Jr. embarrassment. It's laughable that ejected C Weston Richburg thought the official who threw the second unsportsmanlike flag on him "was after me." And it's a total joke that Beckham (and Norman, to be fair) seemed stunned, offended and bewildered by their pregame warnings. Here's an idea: Play within the rules. And spare me the lament about how football used to be a tougher game, and this is about the softening of society, blah, blah, blah. Rules are rules and you don't have to like them but you do have to play by them. And unless anyone wants to actually turn this into the Hunger Games, the rules are there for a reason.

Last year's Beckham-Norman mess was horrifying, dangerous and totally their fault. Good job by the officials on Sunday taking preemptive steps to make sure nothing like that happened again. And if the Giants (and Redskins) were surprised by that, maybe they should pay attention next time.

2.) Last year when the Giants couldn't run the ball and they used that stupid, four-RB committee I always thought (and wrote) that Orleans Darkwa looked like the best of the sorry bunch. Yesterday was a reminder of why he impresses me. He put up good numbers (10 carries, 53 yards, 1 TD) that weren't quite as good as Shane Vereen's (11-67-1), but he was better at making something out of nothing. He hits the holes harder and pushes the pile stronger. Especially with Vereen's fumbling issues, I'd like to see more of Darkwa while Rashad Jennings (thumb) is out.

3.) The Giants got their first two sacks of the season from defensive linemen (Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon) and the pass rush picked up in the second half, but not until the Redskins had lost two of their starting offensive linemen from an already struggling line. For most of the first half, Kirk Cousins had all day to throw. The Giants spent a lot of offseason money to rebuild their pass rush. They have not gotten their money's worth on that yet.

4.) Josh Norman may have won the game, but Odell Beckham won their war. He had seven catches for 121 yards, and six of those (for 107 yards) came with Norman in coverage -- where he was on about 90 percent of the Giants' plays, from what I tracked. The four times Beckham didn't catch a ball thrown his way: One was thrown behind him (and Norman nearly made a great play to pick it off in the end zone), one was batted at the line of scrimmage, one was thrown low (and under pressure) and the other Beckham dropped. So Beckham was open a lot and poised for a really huge day. Norman, like most other corners, simply can't cover Beckham one-on-one and it is really foolish to try.

5.) Jay Gruden is certainly an … um … interesting play-caller. His fake punt from midfield on 4th and 12 was definitely gutsy (though perhaps a bit odd due to the "and 12" part of that). But it was his play calling on back-to-back 3rd-and-goals from the 4 in the middle of the game that was really strange.

The first came at the end of the first half when, with six seconds left, he decided to run a play instead of taking the field goal that would've cut the deficit to 21-19. They did have one timeout left, but any play would've used almost all of their time, and there'd be none left if something went wrong. Too risky. And of course the minute Cousins looked off his first receiver and tried to spin away from the pass rush it was obvious it wasn't going to work (he was sacked). Later, at the end of the third quarter, on another 3rd-and-goal from the 4, he called for a quarterback draw … with Cousins … against a Giants interior line that no one has run on. That play had absolutely no shot to work.

6.) DT Damon Harrison has been worth the money he got from the Giants because he is a monster in the middle. The Redskins gained only 3.0 yards per carry and 37 of their 90 rushing yards came on their game-winning field goal drive in the fourth quarter. With Harrison and Johnathan Hankins in the middle, there has been no room for anyone to run for three games.

7.) I love Beckham's fire and his game is unmatched, but he really needs to stop throwing sideline temper tantrums. Yeah, it was amusing when he slammed his helmet into the kicking net on Sunday and the net fell and hit him in the face. It was a great TV moment. But even his quarterback didn't know what he was so upset about. Maybe that's his way of trying to fire up his teammates, but at some point he's just a crazy person screaming and slamming things for no apparent reason. There are more effective ways to lead. And he certainly showed that in the fourth quarter when, for a few plays, it looked like he was about to take over the game.

8.) Speaking of behavioral issues: Richburg's second personal foul wasn't for his block on Norman, it was for saying something to Norman as he walked by (The cameras didn't show it, but the first one seemed to be for taunting, too). You can see him turn his head towards the fallen Redskins CB on the tape and then the flag comes out. Plus, the block didn't seem dirty to me. Richburg, who has some Rich Seubert-like qualities to him, is a tough, ornery lineman, but there's a difference between playing nasty and playing smart.

As for the other costly personal fouls: LT Ereck Flowers' facemask didn't appear overly dirty. Olivier Vernon's roughing the passer came as he violently slammed his left hand into the back of Cousin's head (and maybe hit him in his chin with the crown of his helmet). It wasn't clean, but it wasn't vicious by roughing the passer standards. As for the personal foul on rookie safety Andrew Adams, when he levelled Washington's Dashaun Phillips, probably with a blow to the head and far from the blocked punt, it was stupid and dirty and inexcusable. A terrible rookie mistake.

9.) The NFC East sure looks a lot different than I thought it would (Eagles 3-0, Cowboys 2-1) thanks to the play of two impressive rookie quarterbacks -- Dallas' Dak Prescott (66 of 99, 767 yards, one TD) and Philly's Carson Wentz (66 of 102, 769 yards, 5 TDs), neither of whom have thrown an interception yet. I still think it's more likely than not that they won't be able to sustain it, but their early performances have made both their teams unexpected contenders in what sure looks like a wild and wide-open division race.

10. Meanwhile, forget the good-looking numbers (25 of 38, 350 yards) -- Eli Manning wasn't very good on Sunday. Despite getting decent protection most of the day, he had far too many throws that were off-target and his last interception was terrible (TE Will Tye inexplicably seemed to stop mid-route on his first one). He's always going to rack up yards with the receivers he has, their ability to pick up big yards after the catch, and the fact that McAdoo runs a pass-heavy offense. It's the little things -- the accuracy of his throws, the fourth-quarter decisions -- that will make the difference. It did on Sunday, just not in a good way.

Tags: Damon Harrison , Eli Manning , Ereck Flowers , Jason Pierre-Paul , Johnathan Hankins , Justin Pugh , Odell Beckham Jr. , Olivier Vernon , Orleans Darkwa , Rashad Jennings , Will Tye , Ralph Vacchiano

 (Tim Heitman)
(Tim Heitman)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants will likely be without rookie safety Darian Thompson for another week at least, but doctors believe his sprained foot is not a long-term injury, according to a source.

Thompson suffered a sprained left foot in the Giants' win over the Saints a week ago and did not play in the Giants' 29-27 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. He was reexamined by doctors over the weekend and the results were "good," a source told SNY. He is expected to "be back soon."

Thompson seemed to indicate that last week too, even as he admitted the pain was centered on the top of his foot, which put it in the area of the dreaded Lisfranc injury. Depending on the severity, a Lisfranc could be season-ending, and it almost always is long-term.

But Thompson, who reportedly was sent to visit foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, was told that surgery wasn't necessary, according to a source, and that the injury isn't serious. The source did not give specifics of the injury, but did confirm that it is not a Lisfranc, and said his recovery time is expected to be "more like a week or two" than anything extensive.

With Thompson out, Nat Berhe started alongside Landon Collins at safety against the Redskins. The Giants also were forced to promote rookie safety Andrew Adams from the practice squad. Adams played a prominent role in the game when he nullified a blocked punt by the Giants when he committed a dumb, unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by hitting Washington's Dashaun Phillips in the head far away from the play.

Meanwhile, the Giants have two other injuries in their secondary that they are worrying about on Monday morning. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left the game on Sunday with a groin injury and rookie corner Eli Apple, the Giants' first-round pick, exited with a hamstring injury. Giants coach Ben McAdoo offered no post-game updates, but a team source said there was at least some concern that one or both could miss the Giants' next game in Minnesota against the 3-0 Vikings next Monday night.

Tags: Darian Thompson , Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie , Eli Apple , Landon Collins , Nat Berhe , Ralph Vacchiano

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham carries the ball as center Weston Richburg tackles Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham carries the ball as center Weston Richburg tackles Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports Images)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The NFL's new two-strikes-and-you're-out rule has unofficially been named after Odell Beckham Jr. But it was one of his teammates that first felt its brunt.

New York Giants center Weston Richburg became the first player ejected under the NFL's new rule in which a player would be tossed for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. He got one in the second quarter and another in the fourth of the Giants' 29-27 loss to the Washington Redskins.

"I let my teammates down," Richburg said. "I have to be a presence in there and be a leader and I let my team down."

That he did, especially on the second one when he was flagged for apparently taunting Redskins cornerback Josh Norman after blocking him to the ground. And that one was costly since it nullified a play that would've set the Giants up at the Washington 5-yard line. Instead they were stuck at the 20, and two plays later, Eli Manning threw an interception.

Richburg said "the guy that threw [the flag] was after me," but he also knew that it likely was less personal and more about the Beckham-Norman slugfest the Giants experienced last December. In that game, Norman was hit with two personal fouls and Beckham was hit with three (and later a suspension), though neither of them was ejected.

That is what sparked the competition committee to create the new rule.

"I think this matchup last year with two individuals was kind of a problem, so I think they were kind of trying to cut down on that," Richburg said. "But from my perspective I need to settle down and just be that leading presence for my team.

"I made a mistake and let it pull me out of the game."

Richburg apologized to his teammates afterward. "I told them that it's unacceptable for me to do that."

Giants coach Ben McAdoo had little to say about Richburg's ejection.

"We knew it was going to be that type of game," he said.

***

The Giants made a late decision to scratch RB Rashad Jennings due to his injured left thumb, even though he was able to practice all week and both he and McAdoo seemed certain he'd be able to play. McAdoo, as usual, wouldn't say why Jennings was inactive, but Jennings said, "It's a long season. I didn't want to be in a position to make it worse.

"I'm a player," he added. "I'm always going to want to be on the field. I'm going to hide injuries. But obviously I understand. I get it."

Jennings, who won't say specifically what is wrong with his thumb, said the swelling is down. The issue wasn't his ability to hold the ball with his right hand when rushing; it was his ability to pass protect and catch the ball out of the backfield.

As for whether he'll be able to play next Monday night in Minnesota, he said, "I'm going to do everything I possibly can."

***

Shane Vereen, Jennings' replacement, lost a fumble for the second consecutive week, and he nearly lost a second. "He's got to quit putting it on the ground," McAdoo said. Vereen did not speak to reporters after the game.

***

Two potentially costly injuries to watch this week: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left the game with a groin injury, and CB Eli Apple, the Giants' first-round pick, left with a hamstring injury. … With his first catch of the game, Beckham became the fastest player in NFL history to record 200 career receptions (30 games). … Defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon each had a sack, the first sacks by Giants defensive linemen this season. Vernon appeared to re-injure his wrist on the play and immediately went to the locker room, though he later returned.

Tags: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie , Eli Apple , Eli Manning , Jason Pierre-Paul , Odell Beckham Jr. , Olivier Vernon , Rashad Jennings , Shane Vereen , Sterling Shepard , Washington Redskins , Weston Richburg , Ralph Vacchiano

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham carries the ball as Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman defends at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham carries the ball as Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman defends at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports Images)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman turned their meeting last December into more of a pro wrestling match than a football game. So it's hard to believe they were really surprised when the officials warned them not to do it again.

Yet they both seemed shocked -- shocked! -- on Sunday to get stern, pregame warnings from referee John Hussey that they both better be on their best behavior. And as they may have seemed, the warnings obviously worked since, for the most part, the two were well-behaved during the Giants' 29-27 loss.

"Today, they came up before the game and said, 'If you do anything, we're throwing you out of the game,'" Beckham said after the game. "That was before the game. There was no, 'You get a warning.' There was not any of that. You just have to be on your best behavior. Unfortunately, that's what it's come to. It's not really football anymore as much as it is all the other things that play into it."

And who's to blame for that? Maybe the Giants receiver has forgotten, but in the Giants' game against the Carolina Panthers last season, he and Norman combined for five personal fouls and were involved in so many extracurricular yapping and shoving matches that at times it seemed they were more interested in each other than the game. At one point, Beckham was so unglued he launched himself like a missile at Norman's head, a play that led to his one-game suspension.

Norman wasn't innocent either -- not in that game, nor in the months of trash-talking and trash-tweeting that ensued. So it's hard to believe he was surprised or offended when he was given a similar warning. The Redskins corner said the officials told him, "We're not going to make a mockery of the game."

"Wow," he added for emphasis. "That surprised me.

"It was kind of like, 'Wow guy, like geez what am I doing?'" Norman said. "I'm just playing a sport that God has blessed us with and being as physical as I can be, but within the rules and the confines of what they ask us to do. Why'd it have to be all that though? Kind of feels bad. That was a big word, but at the same time I appreciate the officials for you know, they really did a good job of controlling the game. It didn't get out of hand. Big ups to them, but whatever."

Yeah, big ups to them because they got those two "innocent victims" to play mostly under control. There was one early, harmless incident when Beckham faked a leap for a pass that wasn't coming and Norman caught him in mid-air, carried him a few steps and dropped him in front of the officials. Norman also committed one personal foul -- unnecessary roughness for a shot to the head of receiver Sterling Shepard that did not appear to be on purpose. And Beckham committed a pass interference penalty for an illegal pick play -- and at that point he was so shaken by his warning that "I was surprised they didn't throw me out of the game then."

They didn't because Beckham, in a game where he caught seven passes for 121 yards, played mostly in control. His one out-of-control moment came on the sidelines when he slammed his helmet into the kicking net by his bench -- and the net retaliated by falling onto his face. The only one concerned by that seemed to be Eli Manning, who couldn't figure out why Beckham was mad.

"He was getting catches, he was making plays and we just need everybody to stay calm," Manning said. "We don't need to get rattled. We don't need to get fired up."

For the most part, Beckham and Norman were only fired up by their play -- coincidentally, neither of them could remember if the other did any trash-talking. And in a game that Ben McAdoo said "we knew that the officials wanted to come out and get control of the game," they certainly controlled Norman and Beckham. There were 19 penalties committed in the game. Beckham and Norman only combined for three of them.

In other words, maybe Beckham and Norman weren't the ones who needed the pregame reminders. Maybe the officials should've saved their warnings for everyone else.

Tags: Eli Manning , Odell Beckham Jr. , Sterling Shepard , Washington Redskins , Ralph Vacchiano

Odell Beckham Jr. walks off the field as the Redskins celebrate their game-clinching interception. (Robert Deutsch)
Odell Beckham Jr. walks off the field as the Redskins celebrate their game-clinching interception. (Robert Deutsch)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The worst part about this is the Giants knew it was coming. After all the hype over Odell Beckham's meltdown against Josh Norman last season, they knew the officials would be, as Victor Cruz said, "on high alert." They knew Norman, in particular, would try to provoke them. They knew they had to behave and remain calm.

Instead, they melted down and became a penalty-plagued, turnover-happy mess of a team that became even more undisciplined as the game went on.

And in the end, they got what they deserved-a 29-27 loss to the Washington Redskins in a game they believe they absolutely should have won. And they would have, if it weren't for three costly turnovers and a ridiculous 11 penalties for 128 yards, one ejected player (center Weston Richburg) and five personal fouls.

"With all that was being written and said about the game, we knew the officials wanted to come out and take control of the game and make sure it didn't get away from them early," said Giants coach Ben McAdoo. "It's disappointing, absolutely. We need to be better than that. We are better than that."

If they are, the Giants (2-1) certainly didn't show it - especially in the fourth quarter when they twice blew one-point leads. They committed five penalties in the fourth quarter alone, and three of those were personal fouls, including the one that got Richburg ejected.

As out of control as Beckham was against Norman last December? It was like his teammates picked right up where he left off.

"I feel we should've won and if they weren't playing for the Redskins they'd probably feel like they should've lost that game, too," said guard Justin Pugh. "We hurt ourselves. Turnovers, penalties -- everything you can do to lose a game today, we did.

"We gave one away today."

They did, in so many ways. They started in the second half when they driving into Washington territory with a chance to add to what would be a 21-16 halftime lead. But a 15-yard facemask penalty on left tackle Ereck Flowers hurt them, and on the next play they lost the ball on a fumble by Shane Vereen.

It was the fourth quarter, though, where the wheels really came off at the worst possible times. Richburg's second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty - the one that got him ejected, apparently for saying something to Norman after knocking him over with a big block - came after a pass to Beckham that would've put the Giants at the Redskins 5. Instead they were pushed back to the 20, and two plays later Eli Manning threw an interception.

They recovered on the next drive with a huge blocked punt by rookie defensive end Romeo Okwara that would've set them up on the Washington 18. But away from the play, rookie safety Andrew Adams - promoted off the practice squad 24 hours earlier - launched himself at the head of a Redskins player. That personal foul allowed the Redskins to re-punt and cost the Giants about 50 yards.

And a few minutes later, defensive end Olivier Vernon drew a personal foul for roughing the passer when he led with his helmet into the helmet of Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins - a tough call, but certainly an infraction that was preventable. The Redskins would have been facing a 3rd and 14 from their own 21. Instead, the penalty kept their game-winning field goal drive alive.

"We knew they were going to throw the flags and throw them early and often," McAdoo said. "We needed to be a more disciplined football team. We have to get that fixed."

McAdoo actually argued that "I don't feel we lost our composure," but that's a hard argument to make given the circumstances. The Giants had seven penalties for 65 yards in the first two games. The only difference was that this game was more highly charged and more emotional. And it sure seemed like they couldn't take the heat.

Add in the turnovers - the second straight week they had three - and it's not a good sign for McAdoo's team. Tom Coughlin's best teams were the most disciplined ones - the ones that didn't kill themselves with penalties and held onto the football. That had become a huge problem during the last three (losing) seasons.

It's a trend that can't continue under the new regime.

"You can't have that," Manning said. "You can't have the turnovers; you can't have the penalties. Sometimes one can lead to the other with the penalties and put you in bad positions. Just the personal fouls, they were costly. When you're down at the two-yard line at one point, now you're backing up. We got to play smart. It throws you out of your rhythm. Makes the play calling harder and it slows down the game. 

"We got them on the ropes a few times and all the sudden we're going backwards. We got to play smarter football. We can't afford to do that."

Because if they don't, there will be more missed opportunities, more painful losses, more games they will feel like they simply threw away. 

"We shouldn't have even been in that position," Pugh said. "We should've had this game in hand well earlier."

 "Obviously, when you get penalties and you get a player ejected, that's not good," Manning said. "We can't afford to do that. We can't afford to get out of our zone. Just too many self-inflicted mistakes that put us in bad positions."

 

Tags: Ralph Vacchiano

GEICO SportsNite: Giants lose 00:02:29
Eli Manning and Ben McAdoo discuss a hard-fought battle with division rival Washington Redskins which ended in a 29-27 loss.

After taking the lead on Dustin Hopkins' 37-yard field goal with 1:51 left, the Redskins got an interception of Eli Manning in the final minute to preserve a 29-27 win over the Giants Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Manning (28-for-35, 350 yards) threw a touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard, but also threw two interceptions. The Giants lost a fumble along with committing a personal foul that wiped out a blocked punt. The Giants were at their 39 with 1:09 left when Manning was picked off by Su'a Cravens

Odell Beckham Jr. had seven catches for 121 yards in his much-anticipated battle with Josh Norman. But he did not have a TD catch.

The personal foul by newcomer Andrew Adams was one of the Giants' 11 penalties, which cost them 128 yards.


John Fennelly, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | | Archive Posts

All signs pointed to the Giants taking full advantage of a reeling Washington team this afternoon, and for awhile they did, but fell back into bad habits and allowed the Redskins to steal the game.

It may have all been too much for them to handle. At 2-0, they came in with two wins that could have gone either way, just as they allowed this one to. QB Eli Manning had his monster game, using all his weapons in racking up 350 yards through the air. But it was a game which turned out to be a nightmare instead as he had two key passes picked off, passes that left the fans scratching their heads and cost the Giants a chance for a late-second win.

Fumbles, penalties and uncharacteristic behavior haunted the Giants all afternoon. Inexplicable penalties, including two personal fouls by center Weston Richburg, which got him tossed, making him the first player to be disqualified in a game under the new rules.

Putting the Allie Sherman face on, there were some good things out there Sunday. WR Odell Beckham Jr. fought off his demons and minimized the chippy play with Josh Norman to catch seven passes for 121 yards. Rookie wideout Sterling Shepard made several big grabs and caught a TD as did Victor Cruz, who had three receptions for 70 yards.

RBs Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa filled in for the injured Rashad Jennings. Each scored a TD and piled up a combined 120 yards on the ground. Vereen had a key fumble, however, which got him a seat in the doghouse mid-game.

But this game clearly about the loose, undisciplined way the Giants went about their business. We knew the Redskins were all about making poor decisions mistakes, but it was the Giants who made the most critical errors in this wild, back-and-forth game that ended in a numbing loss.


To read a full recap, stats, play-by-play and boxscore, go to SNY.TV.

 


New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) was fined for blindside hit against a Saints defensive back last week. (Ed Mulholland)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) was fined for blindside hit against a Saints defensive back last week. (Ed Mulholland)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Odell Beckham was slapped with a huge fine for a cheap shot away from the play last Sunday, and he reportedly could be facing a suspension if anything "unsportsmanlike" happens with him again.

According to a report on Fox Sports on Sunday morning, Beckham was fined a hefty $36,000 for a previously unnoticed - and unpenalized - illegal play in the Giants' 16-13 win over the Saints last Sunday. It came with about five minutes to go in the third quarter when the Giants completed a short pass to the left side of the field to receiver Sterling Shepard - though the play was nullified by a holding penalty on right tackle Marshall Newhouse.

But on the right side of the field, Beckham ran toward the end zone out of the slot, took a shot to the face from Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro while running the route, then turned back in the direction of the play and hammered Vaccaro from behind. The play - only visible from the coaches' all-22 film -- was nowhere near them, had already ended, and Vaccaro had already pulled up and stopped running. The fine was for "unnecessary roughness", according to a source.

It was the second time Beckham is known to have been fined this season. He was fined $12,154 for joining in what the league deemed to be an "unsportsmanlike" touchdown celebration with Victor Cruz on opening day. Beckham has appealed that fine.

Beckham being put on notice from the league is now a very interesting subplot to the Giants' game against the Redskins on Sunday, which of course features Beckham vs. Redskins cornerback Josh Norman. The last time those two faced off - last December when Norman was with the Carolina Panthers - their matchup deteriorated into a penalty-filled mess. Norman was hit with two personal fouls, Beckham was hit with three, and the Giants receiver later was slammed with a one-game suspension.

Prior to the game on Sunday, referee John Hussey had a lengthy, on-field chat with both Norman and Giants coach Ben McAdoo during pre-game warmups. The NFL, according to a source, has discussed the Norman-Beckham feud with the officials, who have informed both teams that they will be watching the situation closely.

Beckham, who now has a reputation and a history of cheap shots and "unsportsmanlike" play, figures to have very little room for extracurricular activities in this game.

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr. , Ralph Vacchiano

Vacc's 3 Keys: Redskins-Giants 00:02:48
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano believes that a Giants' victory hinges on Odell Beckham's ability to stay in control against Josh Norman.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

THE GAME: The Washington Redskins (0-2) at the Giants (2-0) at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, Sept. 25, 1 p.m. ET.

THE WEATHER: Perfect weather for a football game (or so they say). As we inch toward fall, the temperatures are expected to hover around 70 with lots of sun and very light winds. Maybe it'll be a little chilly for tailgating in the morning, but it'll warm up.

WHAT IT MEANS: The Redskins are in absolute desperation mode (not to mention finger-pointing mode) and that's good news for the Giants, who can absolutely bury the defending NFC East champs with a win. Considering the other two division teams have rookie quarterbacks, this would put the Giants in complete control of the division, too.

PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Odell Beckham, Jr.. Perhaps you've heard: He's facing Josh Norman this week. And the last time that happened, Beckham had about as complete a meltdown as any player has ever had on the football field without getting thrown out of the game. It's hard to imagine that will happen again, though you can be sure Norman will try to push him over the edge. And considering the "hatred" between the two -- in the words of Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson, a Beckham friend and Norman teammate -- you can bet there'll be a little extra pushing and shoving at some point, too.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Beckham vs. Norman. Not to make this entire game about two people -- it's not -- but this really is the marquee event and not just because they turned it into pro wrestling last time. It's big because Norman got a five-year, $75 million contract in the offseason to come in and try to stop players like Beckham, and the Redskins have already drawn criticism for not always matching Norman up with the opposing No. 1. Also, dating back to their last clash when Norman was with the Panthers, Beckham has gone four straight games without 100 yards receiving -- the longest such stretch of his short career.

Beckham seemed to be on the verge of a breakout game last week when he had 8 catches, but the Saints paid so much attention to containing him that those catches only went for 86 yards. A huge key to this game for both teams will be whether the Redskins can similarly contain Beckham, and what happens if they do. Because last week, while the Saints were surrounding Beckham at every opportunity, they were burned by Sterling Shepard (8-117) and Victor Cruz (4-91). … Oh, and if you've got Beckham-Norman fatigue? Watch Giants RT Bobby Hart, who'll likely start for the injured Marshall Newhouse, who'll have his hands undoubtedly full with Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan.

INJURY REPORT: Newhouse (calf) is out, which could lead to the issues mentioned above. Also out is S Darian Thompson (foot). He'll be replaced in the starting lineup by Nat Berhe. With only have two safeties on the active roster, the Giants added rookie Andrew Adams from the practice squad. RB Rashad Jennings is inactive with a thumb injury, and the Giants will have to lean a little more on Shane Vereen (starter) or Orleans Darkwa. … For the Redskins DE Chris Baker (rib/elbow/toe/knee) is questionable, as is C Kory Lichtensteiger (back spasms). WR DeSean Jackson (foot/ankle) is "good to go," according to Skins coach Jay Gruden.

ACTIVE/INACTIVE: Giants: RB Rashad Jennings (thumb), RT Marshall Newhouse (calf), S Darian Thompson (foot), DT Robert Thomas (illness), DT Montori Hughes, QB Josh Johnson, WR Roger Lewis. Redskins: QB Nate Sudfeld; WR Rashad Ross; CB Kendall Fuller; LB Martrell Spaight; DE Anthony Lanier; G Arie Koudandjio; DE Kendall Reyes.

THE PICK: It is very hard for me to pick against the Redskins in this game, in part because I picked them to win the NFC East (I know, right?) and in part because it's hard to see a team with that much talent falling to 0-3. Anyone old enough to remember the 2007 Giants knows that an 0-2 start can sometimes be deceptive. Then again, sometimes it's not. And while I still believe Kirk Cousins is a very good NFL quarterback, he's got some disadvantages this season. For one, the Redskins just can't run the ball -- and really, considering they've attempted 91 passes compared to 29 runs, they're not really even trying. No matter what the circumstances are, when you're throwing on 76 percent of your plays, you are horribly imbalanced and obviously one-dimensional. The defense has been bad, too, and there have been subtle signs of finger-pointing in their locker room. Honestly, the Redskins come into this game looking like a mess.

I know, I know, for all you relative old-timers, the '07 Giants were a one-dimensional, defensively-challenged team with a locker room on the verge of coming apart at the seams too. I was there. I remember thinking they were done at 0-2 when they traveled down to Washington. Next thing I know they won that game with a dramatic goal-line stand and the next thing I knew after that they were Super Bowl champs. That's why it's so hard for me to pick against the Redskins in this game. They are dangerous. The numbers that seem to add up might not add up at all. But I'm going to pick against them anyway. I'll just make it close. … Giants 30, Redskins 27.

MY RECORD: 1-1.

Tags: Ralph Vacchiano

New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo in the first half against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. (William Hauser)
New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo in the first half against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. (William Hauser)

THE GAME: The Washington Redskins (0-3) at the Giants (2-0) at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, Sept. 25, 1 p.m. ET.

THE WEATHER: Perfect weather for a football game (or so they say). As we inch toward fall, the temperatures are expected to hover around 70 with lots of sun and very light winds. Maybe it'll be a little chilly for tailgating in the morning, but it'll warm up.

Active/Inactive:  Giants: RB Rashad Jennings (thumb), RT Marshall Newhouse (calf), S Darian Thompson (foot), DT Robert Thomas (illness), DT Montori Hughes, QB Josh Johnson, WR Roger Lewis. Redskins: QB Nate Sudfeld; WR Rashad Ross; CB Kendall Fuller; LB Martrell Spaight; DE Anthony Lanier; G Arie Koudandjio; DE Kendall Reyes.


Info:

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Watch GEICO SportsNite at 10:30PM for FULL coverage of today's game.


 (Bill Kostroun/AP)
(Bill Kostroun/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Rashad Jennings didn't seem to have any doubt that he'd be able to play on Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

Now there is some doubt.

Jennings, who was listed as "questionable" with a thumb injury, may be inactive for the game this afternoon, according to a team source. An NFL Network report said Jennings is "expected to be out". And while it's unclear if the decision is final, the source said the Giants are leaning towards being cautious with their top running back.

Jennings hurt his left thumb in the Giants' 16-13 win over the Saints last Sunday, though he said he wasn't sure when it happened. He rushed for just 27 yards on 13 carries in that game and was replaced at one point in the second half by Orleans Darkwa.

If Jennings can't play, Darkwa would definitely see more action, though it's unclear whether he or Shane Vereen would be the starter and the workhorse in the Giants' offense.

The official list of inactives for the Giants-Redskins game will be released at approximately 11:30 a.m.

Tags: Rashad Jennings

Here's a quick look at this week's opponent, the Washington Redskins, through my three-question interview with Mike Jones, who covers the team for the Washington Post.

You can follow Mike on Twitter, here, and read his coverage at the Washington Post.



It's been nine months of hype, talk and Tweets since Josh Norman and Odell Beckham had their memorable first meeting last December? Are we actually going to get a rematch? Will Norman cover Beckham, and is he good enough to stop him if Beckham manages to keep cool?

Jones: I expect to see a lot of Norman on Beckham. Norman did a good job this week of downplaying the matchup. He said he's past all that from last year. But, he did say that he's a different person during the week than he is between the lines on Sunday, so we'll see if he can hold his emotions in check or not. Big question is can Beckham do the same? If one of these guys starts playing dirty, it's unlikely that the other would be able to ignore it and keep playing their game.

Kirk Cousins was so impressive last season, especially during their season-ending title run, but he has seemed very erratic and mistake-prone through the first two games this season. What's been the biggest issue with him so far?

Jones: He would never admit it, but I think subconsciously, Cousins feels like he has to be perfect, and because of that, he doesn't want to make mistakes, and so he's holding onto the ball too long, or locking in on receivers to quickly and missing better opportunities downfield. I think he can settle down and start executing. But a lot of that will involve the kind of play-calling and game-planning he receives. If they commit to the run and work to establish balance on offense, things open up downfield for Cousins, and the Redskins should also find themselves in more manageable second and third down situations.



The Redskins have been very pass-happy during the first two games. Is that due to circumstances or is that just their offense? And will they try to run a little more often with Matt Jones this week?

Jones: Jay Gruden has never had a good track record when it comes to the run game. Even during his offensive coordinator days in Cincinnati, Gruden preferred the pass over the run. But it's interesting, because general manager Scot McCloughan has said he wants this to be a physical, run-oriented offense. But Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay love to throw the ball. They only called consecutive run plays just once last week. They very much remained in the game against the Cowboys, so it's not like they had to abandon the run and go all pass. But for whatever reason, they couldn't resist the urge to throw. They entered this week saying they want to get Jones more involved, particularly in the red zone, where they attempted only three runs all of the last game.

Tags: Ralph Vacchiano

Vacc's 3 Keys: Redskins-Giants 00:02:48
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano believes that a Giants' victory hinges on Odell Beckham's ability to stay in control against Josh Norman.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Three weeks into the season, the New York Giants have a golden chance to bury the defending NFC East champions.

Right?

"I wouldn't say that," Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. "It's a divisional opponent and these wins are huge. But what people aren't really saying, they are the defending champs. They are the NFC East champs. We have to dethrone them. We have to go through them because they have that title."

Maybe that's true, but the Redskins are 0-2 and the Giants are 2-0, and a Giants win on Sunday afternoon could put Washington in such a deep hole from which it might never be able to recover. As early as it is, it's a must-win for them. And for the Giants, a win and a 3-0 start could be a springboard to their first playoff berth since 2011.

So can the Giants all-but finish off the defending division champs?

Tags: Ralph Vacchiano

New York Giants defensive back Andrew Adams (33) returns an interception against the New York Jets during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Giants won 21-20. (Vincent Carchietta)
New York Giants defensive back Andrew Adams (33) returns an interception against the New York Jets during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Giants won 21-20. (Vincent Carchietta)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants have promoted S Andrew Adams (formerly of UConn) from their practice squad and waived CB Michael Hunter, who had been promoted from the practice squad earlier this week when S Mykkele Thompson landed on the IR.

A source says Hunter will likely be re-signed to the practice squad on Monday once he clears waivers.

The Adams move was made because of the foot injury to S Darian Thompson, which left the Giants with only two healthy safeties (Landon Collins, Nat Berhe) on their active roster.

Adams is expected to be active on Sunday vs. the Redskins, though it's likely he'll mostly play special teams.


Nov 29, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks over the line of scrimmage against the New York Giants during the second half at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)
Nov 29, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks over the line of scrimmage against the New York Giants during the second half at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)

John Fennelly, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | | Archive Posts

The Washington Redskins (0-2) come to town this Sunday to face the 2-0 New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. The Redskins are facing what many are calling a must-win situation this week, although we all know it's way too early to make such predictions. This is the NFC East after all.

So, who are these Redskins? They are a team in some turmoil at the moment with rumors of disharmony in the locker room as many players have voiced their concerns about the leadership and ability of QB Kirk Cousins. They are in dire need of a win and a strong performance from Cousins, which hopefully will ignite a fire under the defending NFC East champs.

Vitals

Record: 0-2

Pass offense: 339.5 YPG (3rd)

Rush offense: 68.5 (25th)

PPG: 19.5

Pass defense: 284 (25th)

Rush defense: 124.7 (27th)

Points Allowed PG: 32.5

Turnover Ratio: -1

Offense

Cousins has 693 yards passing the first two weeks of the season with a 65.2 completion percentage, but has just one passing TD and 3 INTs. His QBR is an inmpressive 78.5. Teammates have commented that Cousins has made dubious choices with many of his passes that have hurt the club.

The running game has had only 29 attempts over the first two games, gaining 157 yards, a 4.7 YPC. RB Matt Jones has rushed 20 times for 85 yards. The only other players who have rushed the ball are Cousins (3 attempts, 28 yards) and Chris Thompson (six rushes, 24 yards).

The receiving game consists of four major players: WR DeSean Jackson (9 rec, 142 yards), TE Jordan Reed (12 rec, 134 yards), WR Jamison Crowder (12 rec, 97 yards, 1 TD) and WR Pierre Garcon (8 catches, 76 yards). Their longest reception of the young season is 57 yards by rookie WR Josh Doctson.

The Redskins have allowed just two sacks this season and have a third down conversion ratio of 36.4 percent (8/22). Their TOP is 26.56 minutes per game.

Defense

The Redskins have amassed five sacks over the first two games. LB Troy Murphy leads the club with two. CB Bashaud Breeland has the only INT. LBs Mason Foster (24 total tackles) and Will Compton (23) are the team's top tacklers.

Overall, the defense has been very forgiving, allowing opponents to complete 73.1 percent of passes, while permitting over 57 percent of third down and 100 percent of fourth-down conversion attempts.

Special Teams

K Dustin Hopkins has made all six attempts but non over 50 yards. Punter Tress Way has an NFL-low three punts with a net average of 31.7 yards, last in the league.

The Redskins have only three kickoff returns for an average of 23.7. Punt returner Jamison Crowder has three returns for 15.7 YPR with a long of 21 yards.


 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants entered the season with plenty of worries about their situation at right tackle. Now they'll head into their game on Sunday against the Redskins worrying even more.

Marshall Newhouse, the starter at right tackle, was officially declared "out" of the Redskins game. He will likely be replaced by second-year pro Bobby Hart, though the newly re-signed Will Beatty is also a possibility. On Thursday, when it looked like Newhouse was unlikely to play, Giants offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said "We're waiting to see how it plays out."

"We have two guys that are competing," Sullivan said. "We'll see how it's all going to unfold."

Considering Beatty hasn't played since 2014 and hasn't been active since re-signing with the Giants just prior to the season opener, it will surely be the 6-4, 334-pound Hart. He struggled over the summer, though he seemed to hold his own when he had to step in for Newhouse late in the game last Sunday against the Saints.

"I thought, given the situation, it was game on the line and we had to throw the ball, he was competitive in those snaps and matched up against a heck of a player (in Cameron Jordan)," Sullivan said. "He competed well and was able to get some chip help on one of the plays from the backs. Those guys did a tremendous job. He didn't seem overwhelmed or flustered. He competed and was able to do enough to help us be successful."

The Giants also declared DT Robert Thomas (illness) and S Darian Thompson (foot) out on Sunday. Thompson will be replaced in the starting lineup by Nat Berhe. At the moment, Berhe and Landon Collins are the only two safeties on the Giants' roster. It's possible they'll add one on Saturday -- perhaps rookie Andrew Adams, who is on their practice squad.

RB Rashad Jennings (thumb) was not initially listed on the injury report Friday, but was later listed as "questionable."

DE Olivier Vernon (wrist) was on the Giants' injury report on Thursday, but not listed on Friday and is expected to play on Sunday afternoon.

Tags: Darian Thompson , Marshall Newhouse , Nat Berhe , Olivier Vernon , Rashad Jennings , Will Beatty , Ralph Vacchiano

GEICO SportsNite: Giants offense 00:01:39
Ralph Vacchiano talks about the Giants' depth of wide receivers and previews the matchup with the Redskins' defense this Sunday.

Ralph Vacchiano, NFL Insider | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The spotlight will be on Odell Beckham on Sunday, whether it's Josh Norman shadowing him or a team of Redskins defenders. And if they want to devote their attention to stopping Beckham, that's just fine with the Giants' No. 1 receiver.

Because he knows what his teammates can do if they're given some room.

"It's tough to do those things (against us)," Beckham said. "You have -- and I mean this -- the Rookie of the Year in this team (in Sterling Shepard), Victor Cruz, who is going to be Comeback Player of the Year, on this team. They're going to get open and do what they have to do."

It's really the scenario that the Giants have been dreaming about since the day they drafted Beckham. They often talked about the Dynamic Duo of Beckham and Cruz, which they didn't get to see until this year because of Cruz's injuries. But what they wanted was a Dynamic Trio that would make it impossible for defenses to choose where to concentrate their coverage.

They haven't really had that since Cruz's breakout season when he caught 82 passes for 1,536 yards, Hakeem Nicks had 76-1,192 and Mario Manningham had a very effective 39-523 enroute to the Super Bowl XLVI championship. Now with Beckham, Cruz and Shepard, the Giants have the talent.

And that trio has the potential to be more dangerous than Cruz, Nicks and Manningham ever were.

"It's good to have weapons," said Giants quarterback Eli Manning. "(The) receivers have done a good job of making plays. Tight ends, running backs, everybody. We have a lot of guys that we can get involved in the passing game. We should have an answer depending on whatever the defense wants to do."

"We're hoping that we can create some problems," said offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. "And by that it's not as easy (for defenses to choose their scheme)."

That was clear on Sunday in the Giants' 16-13 win over the Saints when Cruz, Beckham and Shepard combined for 20 catches and 294 yards. The Saints clearly rolled their coverage towards Beckham and did a great job of keeping him in front of them and tackling him after every catch. The result was that while he did have eight catches, they only went for 86 yards - or just 10.8 yards per catch.

And that opened up the field for Cruz (4-91) and especially for Shepard (8-117). The lesson from that game for the rookie was that if defenses are going to concentrate on Beckham, it'll be up to him to make them pay.

"That is exactly what is going to have to happen and I'm just going to have to keep doing what I'm doing in one-on-one coverage," Shepard said. "Vic has to keep doing what he is doing and the same with the tight ends. We have to catch balls and get open."

Of course, against the Saints the Giants had far too many drops and fumbles, including several deep in Saints territory. Several drives were short-circuited by a lack of ball security, and with a little better handle the Giants might have had two or three more scores.

They hope to correct that on Sunday against the Redskins. And Sullivan said that it's been "a major point of emphasis this week." He also said "I think we believe, we certainly hope, (the drops) are more of an aberration." He knows his receivers are far too talented to make that a trend.

And if they can hold on to the football, it won't matter who covers whom on Sunday. The Giants' receiving trio might just be too talented to stop.

"Obviously we have confidence in our ability that we can make plays and go out there and do what we do against the opposition," Cruz said. "We just want to see what they give us and be able to attack off of that."

Tags: Eli Manning , Odell Beckham Jr. , Sterling Shepard , Victor Cruz

 (Tim Heitman)
(Tim Heitman)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Rookie safety Darian Thompson will not play Sunday in the Giants' game against the Washington Redskins due to a sprained foot, and there is some concern he could miss more than that.

The Giants called Thompson "week to week" after announcing his foot sprain after he missed practice on Thursday. They said he injured his foot during the final defensive series of the Giants' 16-13 win over the Saints on Sunday when another player rolled onto his leg, though he did return a few plays later.

The Giants say Thompson will be evaluated on a weekly basis. According to a league source familiar with his situation, he's scheduled for his next set of tests on Monday. No one has said whether this is the dreaded "Lisfranc", or mid-foot injury which can often result in surgery. But one source said the initial feeling is that it "doesn't sound bad."

Exactly what that means will likely become more clear on Monday.

For now, though, this is a big blow to the Giants' defense, considering how much defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo (and others) have been raving about the rookie safety since the summer began.

He's been praised not only for his ability, but for his knowledge of the defense and his vocal leadership on the field. Also, the Giants' safety corps has never been deep and now it's a mess with Mykkele Thompson (knee) placed on IR earlier this week. That basically leaves Nat Berhe to start opposite Landon Collins and no backups on the current roster.

The Giants can obviously add one, but more likely if they need an emergency safety on Sunday it would be veteran CB Leon Hall. There is still hope Thompson's absence won't be long-term, but there does seem to be some concern in the organization that it will be more than a one-week thing.

Tags: Darian Thompson , Landon Collins , Mykkele Thompson , Nat Berhe

GEICO SportsNite: OBJ-Norman 00:03:09
Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Redskins cornerback Josh Norman discuss their apparent rivalry.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Washington Redskins' game plan won't be any mystery, whether Josh Norman shadows Odell Beckham or not. They are coming for Beckham. They will trash-talk him and shove him and do everything they can to knock him off his game.

And Beckham knows it.

"I would do the same," he said. "It's mental warfare. It's the art of war, you know what I mean?"

What matters most, of course, is what Beckham does in response -- or perhaps in retaliation - when Norman and his teammates verbally and physically go after Beckham on Sunday at the Meadowlands when the 2-0 Giants play the 0-2 Redskins. Last December, against Norman, Beckham lost his head and his way, and ended up so out of control he was slapped with a one-game suspension.

It was embarrassing. He said back then he "dropped the ball on sportsmanship." He later added "I expect better from myself." He does. And so do the Giants.

And he knows he absolutely can't let anything like that happen ever again.

"Honestly there really is a bigger concern," Beckham said. "Division game. 2-0 start to the year. I'm really focused on going 3-0. Wherever I go, wherever I'm going to line up, whoever's going to be there, my job is to win. Honestly, my biggest concern is winning this game."

That's great, and it's a continuation of Beckham saying mostly the right things since the Giants 38-35 loss to the Panthers last December when he came absolutely unglued against Norman, dropped a huge pass and was flagged for three personal fouls. He hasn't been completely innocent since then. He engaged in a brief, Twitter spat with Norman in March. But for the most part, he's at least tried to show how much he's matured.

The proof, of course, will come on the field, and that is where things get complicated. Beckham is a passionate player. He doesn't shy away from trash talk. He doesn't back down from challenges. The key is this: Will he be able to stay in control without taking all the usual energy out of his own game?

"If you watch Russell Westbrook play basketball, he plays with a lot of emotion or passion - whatever you want to call it," Beckham said. "It's what's best for some players, it's what's not best for other players. So you use it. You just be smart. Just play smart."

Since that incident last December, Beckham has played "smart." However, maybe it's just a coincidence, but he certainly hasn't played as well. He's had four straight games with fewer than 100 yards receiving - the longest stretch of his short career. And he's had just one touchdown catch in those four games, which is astonishing for a player who had been averaging about one touchdown catch per game.

And so far this season, Beckham hasn't really resembled the top-tier receiver that he's always been. His 12 catches for 159 yards do put him on pace for a Pro Bowl-caliber season, but he also had that huge, fourth-quarter drop against the Saints on Sunday, and had that would-be touchdown catch deflected away from him by Saints cornerback Sterling Moore.

Beckham is expected to make those plays. He's expected to do better than the 10.8 yards per catch he averaged on Sunday. He's expected to be star, to make the big plays the Giants need to finally get their offense going.

And if he does it against Norman on Sunday against the Redskins … well, would there be any better revenge for Beckham than that?

"From a mental standpoint, he's in a completely different place than he was a year ago," said Giants receiver Victor Cruz. "He understands how to conduct himself on the field. It's about the team game and winning."

"We've learned from the past. We've moved on from the past," Giants coach Ben McAdoo added. "I think last year was a one-time thing."

The Giants certainly hope so, and Beckham does, too. But it may not be so easy for him to keep his composure being shadowed all game by what McAdoo called "a premiere cover corner." After all, covering Beckham twice a year is surely a big reason why the Redskins gave Norman a five-year, $75 million contract. And Norman surely hasn't forgotten how he got under Beckham's skin last season and rendered him ineffective. Since then, the two have definitely developed a "hatred" for each other, as receiver DeSean Jackson - a friend to both of them - said on Wednesday, that will undoubtedly be … um … discussed on the field.

What everyone - Norman, the Giants, the officials, the world - will be watching is how Beckham responds, and whether he really is a "better" man.

"It's been a lot that's happened since then," Beckham said. "That was a lot at happened in that time period of my life. You take the good and the bad and you learn from it. That's how you grow, that's how you improve yourself as an individual, as a human being. You take the life lessons and you learn from it."

And what has he learned about Norman? "I expect him to play his game the way he's always splayed to get him in the position that he's in now," Beckham said. "He's obviously done a good job with that. So I expect him to play his game."

Beckham just needs to play his game too this time, no matter how much of a thorn Norman is in his side.

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr. , Washington Redskins , Ralph Vacchiano

 (Kevin Hoffman)
(Kevin Hoffman)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.--- Just three weeks ago, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said he'd be "disappointed" if even one of his players chose not to stand for the national anthem. That might still be true.

But now he says he won't stand in their way.

McAdoo made that clear on Wednesday, after a report surfaced that several Giants were considering taking a knee during the singing of the anthem on Sunday to join a protest of police brutality and racial injustice -- a protest that was started this summer by 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Several Giants players told SNY that an anthem protest was unlikely, but it was definitely discussed among some players, as the report in Newsday said.

And McAdoo made it clear to those players that they could protest in whatever way they choose.

"It's nothing to do with me allowing anything," the Giants coach said. "It's their freedom. It's their choice. That's part of the reason why I choose to stand."

McAdoo made it clear that he strongly believes the players should stand, and he made that strong point to them even before their preseason opener. He had his offensive coordinator, Mike Sullivan, who is an Army veteran address his players. He also had them listen to Lt. Col Greg Gadson, an Iraq war veteran and double amputee who has been around the team for years.

However, McAdoo seems to have softened his stance and he made it clear he believes that Kaepernick's cause and the concern of his players is just. And he believes they should use the "platform" of the NFL to give that cause a voice and support.

"There's a lot of serious and heavy issues," McAdoo said. "You know, they're at a conflict, I think, a lot of (the players). I had a conversation with a few guys. They're conflicted. They want to make a difference. The league is a platform to make a difference. And I encourage them to. And I'd like to be involved in it. Anything I can do to help.

"But still I feel that you can make a difference outside of the anthem. And we can do something together to make a difference. And it doesn't have to involve the national anthem. I still believe you just pay tribute to the people that sacrifice their lives so we can coach and play in this great game."

His players seemed to agree with that sentiment -- that they want to do something. They're just not sure sitting for the anthem is the right way to go.

"You've got to do it the right way," cornerback Janoris Jenkins said. "It's all about doing it the right way. And us, as a team, hasn't decided yet. But if we do (protest), we'll do it the right way."

Running back Rashad Jennings, the Giants' union rep, was one of the players who initiated the discussion on a protest in the wake of the latest police shootings in Tulsa and in Charlotte. Jennings felt so strongly about an increasing string of highly publicized, racially charged instances of police brutality that he scheduled a meeting with New York police commissioner Bill Bratton, though the meeting never happened because Bratton resigned. He is hopeful of getting a meeting with Bratton's replacement, James O'Neill.

"I think everybody should share some type of sympathy which leads to empathy over time for the same reoccurrences," Jennings said. "Every individual incident is different. There is not one in a lump sum, same, boxed-up situation. And obviously there are probably facts about this one that are going to come out that we all don't know yet.

"But there is enough that has happened to where you can't have a blind eye. And it takes people in privileged positions for people unprivileged or oppressed to even be heard, no matter what the situation is -- color, race, ethnicity, religion, whatever it is. So that is what you are seeing. People are doing it in their way."

As for protesting during the anthem, Jennings indicated he will be standing on Sunday, presumably with all of his teammates. And that's at least in part because by using the anthem as a vehicle, the real message behind the protests is getting lost.

"What I really feel is important is (that) people don't get so focused and fixated on making gestures during the national anthem to a point to where (the media is) writing the stories and missing the whole reason behind it," he said. "And it's becoming more thinking it's a lack of respect for the military, which everybody has the utmost respect for. And quite frankly that's why I stand. But the reason people are making the gestures is because Kaep was the first to sit and now take a knee for oppression and injustice. That's it."

Tags: Ralph Vacchiano

 (Brian Spurlock)
(Brian Spurlock)

The Giants have cut C Shane McDermott from the practice squad and signed OTs  Laurence Gibson and Michael Ola.

Gibson, 25, has spent time with the Cowboys, Chiefs, Falcons, and Bears but has yet to appear in a regular season game. He was selected in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Ola, 28, went undrafted out of Hampton in 2011.


New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) gets thrown to ground by Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman (24) during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Jim O'Connor)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) gets thrown to ground by Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman (24) during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Jim O'Connor)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - DeSean Jackson is friends with Odell Beckham and he's a teammate of Josh Norman, so he knows all about the "hatred" they have for each other.

Still, he's hopeful that the two of them play a "clean" game on Sunday - nothing like the ugly, penalty-marred slugfest they had nine months ago.

"Hopefully it's clean and it's all on the field and they compete," Jackson said on a conference call with the New York media on Wednesday. "Hopefully it doesn't get any more serious than that. It's the game we play. We're able to take care of our families and put on for our last names that are on the jersey. As long as they go out and compete, a little friendly competition and hopefully it's nothing too serious, I'm good with that."

Of course no one is sure what to expect of Beckham-Norman II when the Giants play the Redskins on Sunday at the Meadowlands. When they played last December, when Norman played for the Carolina Panthers, they went at it so hard that they combined for five personal fouls and Beckham was eventually hit with a one-game suspension. Since then their hatred has been on display with on-again, off-again trash talk through the media.

There are also reports that Norman, who got a five-year, $75 million contract from the Redskins after the Panthers got rid of him this offseason, has already been told he'll shadow Beckham all game long - meaning there'll be plenty of chances for history to repeat.

But will it?

"I don't think anything will happen," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said on his conference call. "I think both players know their importance to their teams."

Jackson, for his part, said he's talked to both players about their on-going feud, "but it's something I don't want to be the middle of," he said. "I have a relationship with Odell, and I look at him like a younger brother in this league that's come in and done some great things. And as far as Josh, I'm just really getting to know him this year. Their relationship is kind of rocky. When I talk to them, it's not about each other. It's about personal things.

"They've got their hatred toward each other, or whatever you want to call that," Jackson added. "It's going to be a good matchup to watch this week. Josh has been playing pretty good this year. He's not giving up touchdowns, every time he's guarded top receivers he's done a good job. I'm excited to see that matchup this week. Hopefully they go out and everything is clean, and they keep it on the field."

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr. , Washington Redskins

New York Giants defensive back Janoris Jenkins (20) in the second half at MetLife Stadium. (William Hauser)
New York Giants defensive back Janoris Jenkins (20) in the second half at MetLife Stadium. (William Hauser)

Giants CB Janoris Jenkins has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 2 of the NFL season, the NFL announced on Wednesday

Jenkins returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown in New York's victory over New Orleans on Sunday. 

This is Jenkins' first career Special Teams Player of the Week Award, who also won Defensive Player of the Week in Week 12 of the 2012 season with the Rams.

The Giants signed Jenkins to a five-year, $62 million deal this past offseason. 

Tags: Janoris Jenkins

 (Robert Deutsch)
(Robert Deutsch)

Giants RB Rashad Jennings plans to play through his hand injury, he said Tuesday, according to Tom Rock of Newsday.

Jennings, who had a cast on his left hand and wrist, admitted the injury was painful but said he has to deal with it.

"I plan on practicing tomorrow, going out there and running, going through the normal stuff," he said. "This is something I've got to deal with. The cost of playing football."

Head Coach Ben McAdoo said on Tuesday that while Jennings is expected to practice on Wednesday, he'll be limited.

Jennings, 31, injured his hand in the second half of Sunday's game against the Saints.

He had 13 rushes for 27 yards and two receptions for 13 yards Sunday. 

Tags: Rashad Jennings

New York Giants cornerback Michael Hunter (39) catches a pass before the preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta)
New York Giants cornerback Michael Hunter (39) catches a pass before the preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta)

The Giants will activate CB Michael Hunter from the team's practice squad, according to Dan Duggan of NJ.com

Hunter, an undrafted rookie from Oklahoma State, has been on the Giants' practice squad since getting released when the team made its final roster cuts at the end of the preseason.

To make room on the roster, S Mykkele Thompson is headed to the IR after suffering a knee injury during Sunday's victory over New Orleans. 

Thompson, who made his NFL debut on Sunday, missed all of his rookie season with an achilles injury, and was inactive for Week 1.

The Giants are also expected to sign OT Laurence Gibson to the team's practice squad, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan. Gibson worked out for New York on Sep. 6. 

 

 


Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Deontae Skinner (54) in action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 17-9. (Bill Streicher)
Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Deontae Skinner (54) in action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 17-9. (Bill Streicher)

The Giants have signed LB Deontae Skinner to the team's practice squad, replacing QB Logan Thomas, the team announced on Monday.

Skinner entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Patriots in 2014, appearing in seven games for New England and racking up 11 tackles and a sack. He also spent time on the Patriots' practice squad that season, before joining the Eagles' practice squad for the entire 2015 season.

Thomas was a fourth round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. In two seasons, Thomas has appeared in only one game, going 1-for-9 for 81 yards and a touchdown in Week 5 of the 2014 season for the Cardinals.

The Giants claimed Thomas off waivers on June 17. 


 (Vincent Carchietta)
(Vincent Carchietta)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The big story this week will undoubtedly be the much-anticipated Josh Norman-Odell Beckham, Jr. rematch, whether it will be as nasty as last time, whether any of them will talk trash, and whether Beckham will be able to control his emotions -- something he was unable to do when they faced off last year.

So what does Ben McAdoo think about that?

"We'll hit more on the next opponent on Wednesday," he said.

No, really.

"We're still on the Saints," McAdoo said. "We're cleaning up the Saints right now. We'll move on to Washington later on."

OK, so McAdoo is looking backwards not forwards -- at least this week, anyway. Whatever. Tune in Wednesday for more (hopefully) of Beckham-Norman. Until then, here are the rest of the highlights of McAdoo's conference call with the media on Monday:

  • RB Rashad Jennings "banged up his hand" in the second half. He is expected to practice on Wednesday, but he'll be limited. "We'll see how that goes," McAdoo said.
  • RT Marshall Newhouse (calf) will not practice at the start of the week, but McAdoo wouldn't rule him out later in the week. Bobby Hart and Will Beatty will get the chance to compete for playing time in Newhouse's spot if he can't go.
  • S Mykkele Thompson has a knee injury and will be out "a few weeks," McAdoo said.
  •  McAdoo said his defense has been "very aggressive attacking the receivers" and throwing off the rhythm of quarterbacks, even though the pass rush has generated only two sacks so far -- both from blitzing defensive backs. "We may not be getting the sacks," he said, "but we're getting the pressure on the quarterback." The coverage is also forcing quarterbacks to "hold it a tick longer" than they'd like. Because of that, McAdoo said "We feel the sacks will come."
Tags: Marshall Newhouse , Mykkele Thompson , Odell Beckham Jr. , Rashad Jennings , Ralph Vacchiano

 (Ed Mulholland)
(Ed Mulholland)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The last time the Giants started 2-0 was in 2009. They actually started 5-0 that season. Then they finished 8-8. So the lesson is that it's not how you start, it's how you finish.

But to the Giants, after too many years of misery, a 2-0 start sure feels pretty good.

Can they keep it going? It's hard to doubt them after the way they shut down the Saints on Sunday in a dramatic (and defensive) 16-13 victory. Then again, there are some stats that certainly make you wonder how they're getting it done. I'll get into those shortly in my 10 takeaways from the Giants' win over the Saints on Sunday afternoon:

1.) Of the three big contracts the Giants handed out in the offseason, the one that raised the most eyebrows was the five-year, $62.5 million deal given to CB Janoris Jenkins, but he sure looks like he's been worth it. He smothered Dallas' Dez Bryant in the opener and was just as good against the Saints' speedy receivers, with eight tackles and two passes defensed. He has tremendous closing speed, rarely gives a receiver room to make the catch, and when he gives a cushion he doesn't miss tackles. He looks like the best corner the Giants have had in years.

2.) Speaking of corners, Ben McAdoo insisted Sunday that rookie Eli Apple "is a starter for us." Well, he didn't actually start but he played 59 of 62 defensive snaps (95 percent) while Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie saw his playing time dip all the way to 63 percent (39 of 62). It seems that had more to do with the Giants' defensive scheme than anything else, and their desire to rotate Leon Hall and DRC as the slot corners in nickel schemes.

3.) Tom Coughlin always preached that no stat dictates who wins and loses NFL games as much as turnovers. He's probably right. And yet the Giants are 2-0 and haven't forced a turnover yet. In fact, they're second-to-last in the NFL with a turnover ratio of minus-4. That's probably more of an anomaly and likely not sustainable. Of course, this revamped Giants defense isn't likely to continue to get shut out in the turnover wars.

4.) The Giants' defense has given up only two touchdowns and an average of 308 total yards and 237 passing yards in the first two games. It makes them a Top 10 defense. But … the odd part about that? They only have two sacks, and both of them came yesterday from Leon Hall and Landon Collins -- two defensive backs. Considering all the money they spent on their defensive line, adding Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison and re-signing Jason Pierre-Paul, and getting Johnathan Hankins back healthy, the pass rush was supposed to be the best part of their defense. So far they've been outstanding against the run (yielding just 71 yards per game) but the pass rush from the front four has been sketchy. Presumably it will get much better soon enough.

5.) If there is one thing that should be clear by now, Ben McAdoo is a more aggressive coach than his predecessor. And that's why I had no problem with his decision to go for it on 4th and 2 from the Saints' 3 in a 0-0 game late in the first quarter. The conventional wisdom is to take the points, but at that point it was hard to presume the game wouldn't be a shootout. And really, the Giants had four plays from the 11 or closer. They should be able to score from there. And if it weren't for a Larry Donnell drop in the end zone, they would have.

6.) I had more of an issue with McAdoo's game-ending play selection. Not the kneel-downs that set up the field goal. I agree with him. Run the clock out and win the game, don't go for the touchdown and give Drew Brees the ball back. My issue came after he ran the ball on first and 10 from the Saints' 38 and New Orleans used its second timeout with 1:54 left. His next two plays were deep passes -- one an Odell Beckham, Jr. drop and the other the great catch Victor Cruz made at the 2. I know, it worked. But I would've rather them throw shorter, less risky passes to keep the clock moving and set up a field goal in the 30-40-yard range. Can't argue with success, but if Cruz hadn't made that catch, Josh Brown would've been looking at a 53-yarder with 1:32 to go and the Saints would've still had one timeout left.

7.) This game was a step back for the offensive line. Marshall Newhouse, before he got hurt, struggled with Saints defensive end Cam Jordan. And he and Ereck Flowers killed a third-quarter drive with back-to-back holding penalties (though the way they were playing on that drive, they kind of had to hold). The worst performance, though, came early in the fourth quarter when they had 1st and goal from the 1. Two Shane Vereen runs went nowhere because of awful blocking. Then Newhouse let Jordan in too close and he tipped away the third-down pass, forcing the Giants to settle for a field goal.

8.) There shouldn't be any more doubts that Victor Cruz is back. Yeah, I know, he fumbled at the end of that 40-yard catch. But on that catch, and the 34-yarder at the end of the game, he showed his old speed, moves and hands. Four catches and 91 yards in his second game in two years? Not bad. And he, Beckham (8-86) and rookie Sterling Shepard (8-117) combined for 20 catches for 294 yards. That's a pretty impressive trio, and considering Cruz's fumble and Beckham's lack of yards after the catch, this was hardly their finest game.

9.) On a day when the offense looked out of sync, his receivers dropped far too many passes, and the running game didn't do much, Eli Manning completed 32 of 41 passes for 368 yards. Yeah, it's safe to say he's not a quarterback in decline.

10.) The Giants' defense just looks so much faster than it has in years. They are much more effective blitzing, as shown by the sacks from Hall and Collins, and pressure from many others. And the speed was clear on special teams too, where Rodgers-Cromartie very nearly blocked three field goal attempts, and Jenkins scooped up the one that was blocked (by Hankins) and returned it for a touchdown. The guys in the back seven can fly.

Tags: Damon Harrison , Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie , Eli Apple , Eli Manning , Ereck Flowers , Janoris Jenkins , Jason Pierre-Paul , Johnathan Hankins , Landon Collins , Larry Donnell , Marshall Newhouse , Odell Beckham Jr. , Olivier Vernon , Shane Vereen , Sterling Shepard , Victor Cruz , Ralph Vacchiano

GEICO SportsNite: FNNY 00:03:36
The Football Night in New York crew discusses the Giants' gutsy 16-13 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - In the locker room last week, Victor Cruz was confident the Giants' rebuilt defense could hold the Saints to "somewhere under 17" points. Eye rolls quickly followed. When pressed, he said it was less of a realistic goal and more of a hope.

Maybe it should have been a guarantee.

Perhaps no one will doubt what this $200 million Giants defense can do now after what they did to the Saints on Sunday afternoon. They rushed the unflapple New Orleans offense with effective blitzes, smothered their uncoverable receivers with their secondary, and set up a wall along their defensive line to stifle any attempts at a run game.

In the end, they did something that has only happened to the Saints three times since the start of the 2010 season - they held them to fewer than 14 points points and 300 yards (288) in what turned into a dramatic 16-13 Giants win.

"The defense played phenomenal," Cruz said. "For them to battle like that with a Drew Brees-style offense is a big deal."

"And we made a bunch of mistakes out there," defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul added. "This defense is only going to get better and better."

That's a frightening thought, but it's easy to believe considering what has transpired in the first two games of the season.

The Giants have allowed only two touchdowns in two games and an average of 308 yards per game against them. A defense that finished dead last in 2015, yielding a ridiculous 420.3 yards per game, will likely be secure in the Top 10 in the rankings by the end of this weekend.

And they've done all that even though their pass rush from their defensive line - which was supposed to be the best part about this defense - hasn't materialized. The defense has so far only produced two sacks, and defensive backs - cornerback Leon Hall and safety Landon Collins - have them both.

So there's more to come.

"We're not too hyped up about how we're playing right now," Pierre-Paul said. "We've still got to grow. We've still got to develop chemistry with each other."

The chemistry actually looks pretty good, at least in the secondary. For two weeks now the Giants defensive backs have been like clamps on opposing receivers. A week ago, Dez Bryant was held to just one eight-yard catch, and on Sunday none of the Saints' vaunted receivers topped Brandin Cooks 68 yards. The secondary, led by Janoris Jenkins - who has shown everyone why the Giants thought he was worth a five-year, $62.5 million contract - has been masterful at keeping receivers in tight coverage and tackling them almost immediately after the catch. 

They have also become effective blitzers (see: Collins, Hall, and even some linebackers, too), which was something they didn't do well at all last season. And they are swarm tacklers who rarely seem to let even the most elusive players out of their grasp. If they're playing like that on the back end, and the Giants are stopping the run up front (yielding just 41 yards to the Saints, and 142 on the season), imagine how good they'll be when defensive ends Olivier Vernon and JPP join the fun.

It makes sense, of course, since they added Jenkins and Vernon and defensive tackle Damon Harrison and got defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and linebacker Jonathan Casillas back at full strength. Add in rookie safety Darian Thompson, rookie corner Eli Apple, and middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, and this defense bears little resemblance to last year's mess.

Even though that's a mess that the players leftover from last year won't soon forget.

"It is still relevant," Collins insisted. "We still have a point to prove. We still want to be in that top 10 and we won't ever forget what happened last year." 

Instead, they'll just improve on it, as they did against a Saints team that shredded them for 52 points, seven passing touchdowns and 608 yards from a year ago. To reduce that to 13 points, one passing touchdown 288 yards was a miracle.

Or maybe it's exactly what was supposed to happen when John Mara wrote all those offseason checks.    

"The defense did a phenomenal job - played lights out," receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. "They're a championship defense. We just have to come out and score more points for them."

Actually, they don't, which may be the best thing about the 2016 Giants. A year ago, they lit up the Saints for 49 points in one of the most dazzling offensive displays in the Eli Manning Era, yet it wasn't enough because the defense was a disaster. This time the offense fumbled three times, hurt itself with penalties, and failed in the red zone.

Then Jenkins opened the scoring by returning a blocked field goal for a touchdown. And after that -- for a nice change -- the Giants defense did the rest.


Brad Wing (9) was the holder on Josh Brown's winning field goal in Sunday's game. (Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) (Robert Deutsch)
Brad Wing (9) was the holder on Josh Brown's winning field goal in Sunday's game. (Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) (Robert Deutsch)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Down on the field at MetLife Stadium, it sounded like there were nothing but cheers as Josh Brown's game-winning, 23-yard field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired. Everything felt back to normal for him.

He was a football hero, once again.

Of course, he won't be one to everyone anymore, even some of those who cheered his kick on Sunday and celebrated the Giants' emotional 16-13 win over the Saints. There were surely more than a few conflicted fans feeling plenty of mixed emotions. That's the way it's going to be every time the 37-year-old Brown kicks a big field goal -- or any field goal, really -- for the Giants, for the rest of the time he's here.

It's just hard to separate the player from the man who was suspended for the Giants' opener after he was arrested for a domestic violence incident. It's hard to watch the kick and ignore the police report in which his ex-wife accuses him of being violent more than 20 times.

Brown seems to understand that, but he remains defiant that what he said back in August is still true -- that his domestic violence history was "just a moment" where, according to a police report, he grabbed his wife by the wrist. On Sunday he doubled down, saying, "It was a single moment. An act." He said he has no regrets about how he described it to the press or about anything he said. "Not one thing," he said. And Brown, who hadn't spoken to reporters since Aug. 18, declined to say much more than that.

"I have nothing to say about it -- literally nothing," he said. "My family and I have moved on. My concern is my children. That's it. Everything I said prior to the day my suspension came out is everything I'm going to say."

What Brown preferred to talk about was his "very emotional" game, in which he kicked three field goals including the game-winner, which he insisted "feels like any other game-winner."

But it's hard to just move on with Brown, since there are so many unanswered questions left from the 75-page police report from that "single moment" that included a damning interview with his ex-wife that police deemed credible. He hasn't given his side of the story and it doesn't seem like he will.

He prefers to stand by the facts that the charges were dropped and that the NFL hit him with a light suspension, well below the league's six-game baseline for first-time domestic violence offenders. And of course, a week after the police report was made public, Giants co-owner John Mara spoke out and made it clear that he had Brown's back.

"I was very happy about that," Brown said. "I appreciate everything that Mr. Mara says. He has quite a bit of knowledge about my situation and I appreciated the fact that the Giants stood beside me and behind me and I'll continue to do whatever I can to make sure that they never regret their decision."

From the sound of the stadium, Giants fans didn't regret it. Brown insisted he spoke to fans and signed autographs before the game and described his experience with them as "great." He insisted "I have not heard one negative comment" and hasn't read anything that has been written about him either.

And if there are those who think the Giants should have cut him? "I have no comment for them," Brown said. "Everybody has an opinion. They're allowed to have that." And they will. Some will cheer Brown as loudly as ever. Some may turn their backs. And others -- probably many -- won't really be sure exactly how to feel.

Newhouse out with calf strain

Giants RT Marshall Newhouse had what the Giants called a "strained calf" in the fourth quarter and was replaced by Bobby Hart. After the game, Newhouse had a boot on his right foot/ankle/calf and needed a cart ride out of the stadium. … RB Rashad Jennings had his left wrist and hand wrapped after the game. It wasn't immediately clear what happened, but he was briefly replaced in the second half by Orleans Darkwa.

Saints' Williams leaves on cart

There was a scary scene early when Saints CB P.J. Williams went low to make a tackle on Giants TE Larry Donnell and was kneed in the head by both Donnell and Saints LB Craig Robertson. Players frantically waved for the trainers after the play and Williams had to be lifted onto a stretcher before being carted off the field. The Saints only said he was being evaluated for a concussion. His agent, Deryk Gilmore, told ESPN that he was undergoing tests at the hospital but "can feel his extremities."

Ball security issues

The dazzling 34-yard catch by Victor Cruz that set up the Giants' game-winning field goal was preceded by a deep pass that Odell Beckham Jr. dropped. That wasn't unusual in this game. There were several drops by Manning's receivers, and both Victor Cruz and Shane Vereen fumbled in Saints territory. Cruz's fumble came at the end of a 40-yard catch. "We need to take care of the football better, no question," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said.

Manning: Big numbers, zero TDs

Eli Manning completed 32 of 41 passes for 368 yards and no touchdowns -- oddly more yards than the 350 he threw when he had six touchdown passes in the 52-49 loss to the Saints last year. And he got a big day from rookie Sterling Shephard (eight catches, 117 yards) who clearly took advantage of all the open space left with the Saints doing their best to surround Beckham (eight catches, 86 yards) every time he was thrown the ball.

Together, Shephard, Beckham and Cruz (four catches, 91 yards) combined for 20 catches for 294 yards. "I think the sky is the limit for us," Cruz said. "As long as we continue to understand what each other's best roles are and what our best attirbutes are, I think the sky is the limit. I think we can really do some things that probably have never been done before in a Giants uniform."

Tags: Bobby Hart , Eli Manning , Josh Brown , Marshall Newhouse , New Orleans Saints , Odell Beckham Jr. , Orleans Darkwa , Shane Vereen , Sterling Shepard , Victor Cruz , Ralph Vacchiano

GEICO SportsNite: Cruz on win 00:01:14
Ben McAdoo, Eli Manning and Victor Cruz discuss the Giants' 16-13 win over the New Orleans Saints in their home opener at Metlife Stadium.

Josh Brown kicked a 23-yard field goal with no time left to give the Giants a 16-13 victory over the Saints Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

It was Brown's third field goal of the day. He also made kicks of 48 and 19 yards.

Eli Manning was efficient (31-for-40, 334 yards), but did not throw a touchdown pass. The Giants got their only touchdown when Janoris Jenkins returned a blocked field goal 65 yards for a touchdown in the first half.


To read a full recap, stats, play-by-play and boxscore, go to SNY.TV.


New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo in the first half against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. (William Hauser)
New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo in the first half against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. (William Hauser)

THE GAME: The New Orleans Saints (0-1) at the Giants (1-0) at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, Sept. 18, 1 p.m. ET.

THE WEATHER: Wet. The current forecast calls for thunderstorms in the morning, and perhaps even more in the afternoon. Temperatures will be in the upper 70s or low 80s, with the typical "light" Meadowlands winds.

Active/Inactive:  ACTIVE/INACTIVES: Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) and Olivier Vernon (hand) are both active; QB Josh Johnson RB Paul Perkins; RB Bobby Rainey; OT Will Beatty; WR Roger Lewis; DT Montori Hughes; DT Robert Thomas. For the Saints, only FB Austin Johnson is inactive.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

It's good news, of course, that DE Jason Pierre-Paul is active, but it's possible he'll be limited a bit on Sunday afternoon. The Giants haven't said much about his shoulder injury, but it was bad enough for him to miss practice on Thursday (they didn't have an official practice on Friday, and they're not required to say who went through their walkthrough/practice on Saturday) and the Giants weren't 100 percent sure he was going to play earlier on Sunday morning.

They will certainly be monitoring him and if it bothers him at all they'll have no hesitation replacing him for a few plays here or there with either Kerry Wynn or Owa Odighizuwa. ... Of course, against the Saints none of this may matter. Few quarterbacks in the NFL get the ball out quicker than Drew Brees and his fast-paced, quick-throw offense is designed to negate the pass rush -- which it very often does.


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Vacc's three keys: Giants-Saints 00:02:55
SNY NFL insider Ralph Vacchiano discusses his three keys to a Giants victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

THE GAME: The New Orleans Saints (0-1) at the Giants (1-0) at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday at 1 p.m.

THE WEATHER:  It's a gray day at the Meadowlands with cloudy skies in the morning and maybe some light showers moving through during the pre-game. Those should be gone by close to kickoff and temperatures will be in the low-80s with at least a little sun peeking through. The light winds shouldn't be much of a factor, either.

WHAT IT MEANS: The Giants finally got some momentum to start the season and now they'd love to continue that in front of their home fans. They're still all about feeling good about themselves this early in the season, and beating the dangerous Saints at home would definitely help with that. Maybe more importantly, this game is a huge test for their $200 million defense. It played well against the Cowboys and their rookie quarterback. It will have to play much better to slow down the Saints.

PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Rashad Jennings. He appears to be the undisputed No. 1 back in the Giants' backfield, with Shane Vereen picking up the third-down and two-minute-drill duties. And as the NFL Network reported, and head coach Ben McAdoo was quick to jump on, Jennings leads the NFL in rushing yards (507) and rushes of 10 yards or more (15) since Week 14 of last year. That's right about when the Giants abandoned their four-RB committee approach last year.

Jennings was OK in Week 1, with 18 carries for 75 yards in Dallas, but you can probably expect a bigger workload for him on Sunday. Why? Because playing the Saints is like running a series of sprints, and while the Giants think they can keep up, they don't really want to do that. The better strategy is to slow the game down and keep the score manageable -- or at least more manageable than the 52-49 game the teams played last year. The best way to do that? Run the ball.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Odell Beckham, Jr. vs. the Saints cornerbacks. It's hard for even a veteran corner to hang with Beckham, but the Saints are likely to go with second-year pro P.J. Williams, who is coming off his first career start. It's either him or undrafted rookies Ken Crawley or De'Vante Harris, so their options are limited.

Beckham had eight catches for 130 yards and three touchdowns in the shootout at the Superdome last season, so New Orleans knows how dangerous he can be. The two corners who played in that game -- Delvin Breaux (broken leg last week) and Brandon Browner (now with Seattle) are gone. Beckham, by the way, had only four catches for 73 yards last week in Dallas. Dating back to last season, he's now had three straight games with less than 100 yards receiving. He's never had four.

ACTIVE/INACTIVES: Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) and Olivier Vernon (hand) are both active; QB Josh Johnson
RB Paul Perkins; RB Bobby Rainey; OT Will Beatty; WR Roger Lewis; DT Montori Hughes; DT Robert Thomas. For the Saints, only FB Austin Johnson is inactive.

INJURY REPORT: The Giants remain remarkably healthy, with the only potentially troublesome injury being the shoulder issue DE Jason Pierre-Paul, who is active after not practicing on Thursday and being officially declared "questionable". … For the Saints, the loss of CB Delvin Breaux (broken fibula) will hurt an already undermanned secondary. He'll likely be replaced by a pair of undrafted rookies, De'Vante Parker and Ken Crawley. LB Dannell Ellerbee (quad) will miss his second straight game, and that also won't help a Saints defense that did not look good in a Week 1 loss to Oakland.

THE PICK: I agree with Beckham that there's no way the Saints will score 52 on the Giants again. But holding them to 17 -- Victor Cruz's goal -- seems a bit unrealistic. In Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks, Drew Brees has arguably the best receiver tandem he's had in years, and they have a solid running back in Mark Ingram and a potentially dangerous tight end in Coby Fleener. Oh, if only they had a defense (they don't).

So yeah, this has all the earmarks of a shootout. And it's not that I don't think the Giants can stop them, it's that doing that tends to be close to impossible and the Saints' quick-throw offense is so fast it can neutralize the Giants' pass rush. Both teams will score a lot and, much like last year, this game may just come down to whomever has the ball last. It's a real toss-up, but I give the advantage to the New Orleans offense. Not by much, but by enough. … Saints 35, Giants 32.

MY RECORD: 1-0.

Tags: Jason Pierre-Paul , Odell Beckham Jr. , Rashad Jennings , Shane Vereen , Victor Cruz , Ralph Vacchiano

GEICO SportsNite: Giants Week 2 00:01:45
Ralph Vacchiano reports from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, as the Giants prepare to face the Saints in the home opener on Sunday.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Giants' game against the Saints last year was out of control on both sides, but it was a complete and total humiliation for the Giants' defense.

They barely provided a speed bump to a New Orleans Saints offense that put up 608 yards in a 52-49 win, and had no answer for Drew Brees, who threw for seven touchdowns and 505 yards.

But this time, the Giants better have an answer. Because while that Saints game isn't the reason the Giants decided to spend $200 million overhauling their defense in the offseason, that game is still exactly the type of disaster that spending spree is supposed to prevent.

And the feeling in the Giants' locker room is that there is absolutely no way anything like that will ever happen again.

"The thing about that is that this year is a different defense," said Giants receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.. "I don't see 52 points being put up again. I would be shocked if 52 got put up."

Beckham is right that this defense bares almost no resemblance to the unit the Giants put out last season. They'll have Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul and Damon Harrison starting along their line instead of Kerry Wynn, Robert Ayers and Markus Kuhn. Janoris Jenkins will start at corner instead of Jayron Hosley, and first-rounder Eli Apple will rotate in, too. And promising rookie Darian Thompson will play safety, where the past-his-prime Brandon Meriweather was last year.

That means they've upgraded at five of 11 positions -- six if you count nickel cornerback. Last year in New Orleans Drew Brees could've set up a beach chair behind his offensive line and felt secure the Giants' pass rush wouldn't get anywhere near him, but this year he should have to get the ball out of his hands a little quicker. Last year his receivers were open all over the field, but this year they can expect more shadows and maybe a few shoves at the line of scrimmage.

It surely won't be enough to stop Brees and the Saints completely. It might not be enough "to keep them somewhere under 17," which Giants receiver Victor Cruz said was the goal. The Saints had 507 yards and Brees threw for 423 yards and four touchdowns in their 35-34, opening day loss to the Oakland Raiders. So he still can light up a scoreboard.

But at least this time the Giants' defense isn't heading into a completely unfair fight.

"Man, they've got some options," Jenkins said. "But I feel like we've got guys that can match up with them."

The players on the Giants' offense, who spent the summer going against the Giants' defense, definitely agree.

"Just from going up against them every single day, it's not easy to come out with seven points every single time," Beckham said. "It's going to be tough for teams to put up numbers like they did on this defense."

"I think our defense is exceptional," Cruz said. "I think they do a good job of getting after the quarterback and making things difficult for the other offense to be comfortable. So I think Odell is right."

And again, he better be, because the defense was good but far from great in the Giants' 20-19 opening day win over the Dallas Cowboys.

The defensive line did a good job against the run and containing Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, but the pass rush wasn't much of a factor. And while they technically got the stop they needed to win the game in the fourth quarter, they caught a huge break when Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams failed to get out of bounds on the final play and the clock ran out.

It was a good first start, but chances are they won't get any breaks like that against Brees, and he will tear them apart if the pass rush is nonexistent. So this is the game that will really show what kind of defense the Giants purchased. And it will show them if they really got their money's worth.

Tags: Damon Harrison , Darian Thompson , Eli Apple , Janoris Jenkins , Jason Pierre-Paul , Odell Beckham Jr. , Olivier Vernon , Victor Cruz , Ralph Vacchiano

 (Jason Getz)
(Jason Getz)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Here's a quick look at the Saints through my three-question interview with Nick Underhill, who covers the Saints for The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. You can follow him on Twitter at @nick_underhill, and read his coverage of the Saints at theadvocate.com.

The Giants host the Saints on Sunday at the Meadowlands...

1.) Nobody knows better than the Giants how dangerous Drew Brees can be, and from last week he seems as good as ever. Is there any reason to believe that he's slowing down at all at age 37?

Nick Underhill: It doesn't seem like it. Brees led the league in passing last season and connected on 68 percent of his attempts, and he looked like the same guy last week against the Oakland Raiders. The biggest question for his success depends on how well the offensive line can protect him. It was a major concern throughout the offseason, and the team just brought back Jahri Evans after failing to find an answer at right guard. The group held up well against the Raiders and kept Oakland's All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack off the board. If Brees stays healthy and his line keeps buying him time, there's no reason to think he won't finish the year around 5,000 yards again.

2.) Brandin Cooks was the fourth WR taken in the 2014 draft, which was a great draft for receivers. He gets overshadowed in that group sometimes -- one that includes Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry, Jordan Matthews. But is he as good as any of those guys?

NU: Not many players compare to Odell Beckham, but I doubt the Saints lose much sleep when looking at the guys taken after Cooks. He still could make some improvement after the catch, which is a stated goal of his, but he finished last year with 1,138 yards and nine touchdowns. He's developed into a more complete receiver over the last two seasons and is as much a threat underneath as he is taking the top off of a defense. That's a star-studded class of receivers, but Cooks is certainly holding his own.

3.) The defense has long been the Achilles heel of the Saints. Any reason to believe it will be any better this year?

NU: There was some hope during training camp. But now, with top cornerback Delvin Breaux suffering a broken fibula, and a lack of obvious options to take his place, it's difficult to know what to expect. The Saints have struggled to find a pass rush. Taking out the one player who might be able to buy those guys an extra tick to get after the quarterback is not ideal.

Tags: Ralph Vacchiano

Vacc's three keys: Giants-Saints 00:02:55
SNY NFL insider Ralph Vacchiano discusses his three keys to a Giants victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Giants are a feel-good story for the first time in a while thanks to their opening-day win in Dallas, and there's only one thing that could make them feel better: A win in their home opener, too.

They'll have their chance to go 2-0 for the first time since 2009 when they face the New Orleans Saints at the Meadowlands on Sunday - though it won't be easy because the Saints have one of the most dangerous offenses in the league. Drew Brees shows no sign of slowing down at age 37, and his current group of receivers look like the best he's had in years.

So can the Giants slow them down and keep their good feelings going? In the video above, I give you my three keys to how they can do exactly that.

Tags: Ralph Vacchiano

On the latest Giants Goal Line, SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano discusses Big Blue's victory over the Dallas Cowboys, and previews their Week 2 matchup with the New Orleans Saints. Plus, Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News calls in to talk about covering his first game as a Giants beat writer, and his impressions of AT&T Stadium down in Dallas.


New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) and New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) watch the action from the sideline during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Giants defeated the Patriots 17-9. (Ed Mulholland)
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) and New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) watch the action from the sideline during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Giants defeated the Patriots 17-9. (Ed Mulholland)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Odell Beckham insisted that the NFL tends to fine him for everything, including "smiling." Maybe that was an exaggeration.

But not by much.

Both Beckham and Victor Cruz were slapped with a fine of $12,154 each for what the league deemed a group celebration after Cruz's fourth-quarter, game-winning touchdown catch in Dallas last Sunday. After Cruz caught the three-yard touchdown, he began his signature salsa dance. As he did, Beckham knelt in front of him and seemingly pretended to take a picture.

No flags were thrown at the time, but the multi-player staged presentation was apparently too much for the killjoy league.

Technically the decision is the right one according to the NFL's new sportsmanship rules, which outlaw any non-spontaneous, choreographed celebrations and any group celebrations. But, as always, the decisions seem highly subjective. And of course, the NFL leaves them unexplained.

The good news? At least Beckham and Cruz weren't fined for wearing 9/11-themed cleats, commemorating the 15th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, an NFL source confirmed.

Tags: Dallas Cowboys , Odell Beckham Jr. , Victor Cruz

The Giants face the Saints on Sunday in Week 2. Here's the injury situation...

  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul is questionable for Sunday's game. He was held out of practice on Thursday due to a sore shoulder but said he would play Sunday. Head coach Ben McAdoo was non-committal Friday about Pierre-Paul's availability. 
  • DE Olivier Vernon (hand) was limited on Friday but is not on the injury report. 
  • DT Robert Thomas is out on Sunday.
Tags: Jason Pierre-Paul , Olivier Vernon

 (Derick E. Hingle)
(Derick E. Hingle)

John Fennelly, SNY.TV Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | | Archive Posts

When one thinks of the New Orleans Saints, they think of Drew Brees filling the air with footballs in their practically unstoppable passing attack. After Brees, few can name five players from the rest of their roster -- perhaps one of the reasons why they've finished 7-9 three of the four past seasons.

Sean Payton is in his 11th season as the head coach (he missed the 2012 season after getting suspended by the league over the BountyGate scandal) and just signed a five-year extension this past March. Payton is 87-58 in the regular season and 6-4 in the postseason, including a victory in Super Bowl XLIV.

Under Payton, the Saints have a 51-30 (.630) home record and are 42-37 (.532) on the road. He is one win shy of passing Jim Mora (93) for the most victories by a head coach in team history.

Payton and Brees have turned the Saints into an offensive powerhouse. Since they joined forces in 2006, the team has averaged 27.4 points per game (4,414 points) in 161 regular season games, second in the NFL to New England over that period. Since 2006, they've scored 20 or more points in 126 contests (78.3 percent) and 30 or more points in 69 (42.9 percent).

The offense: It's Brees or bust for New Orleans. Last week, in their home opener against Oakland, Brees completed 66.7 percent of his passes (28-of-42) for 423 yards with four TDs and 0 INT while racking up a 131.3 QBR. That's a continuation from last season, when the Saints passed the ball 63.7 percent of the time.

The wide receivers are coming into their own. In last week's loss to Oakland, Willie Snead caught all nine of his targets for 172 yards and a TD while Brandin Cooks had six catches for 143 yards and two TDs. One of Cooks' TD catches was a franchise-record 98-yarder.

Their running game, spearheaded by the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower. They gained 1,491 yards on the ground (3.8 YPC) with 16 TDs in 2015. In the season opener, Travaris Cadet had a TD reception.

The defense: The Saints have a defense? Yes, they do, but they haven't been very good the past few seasons. If you remember, they won Super Bowl XLIV by holding Peyton Manning and the Colts to 17 points. In recent years, the Saints have been down at the bottom of the defensive rankings in the NFL. Only the Giants were worse last year.

They have begun their second season under DC Dennis Allen again at the bottom after allowing the Raiders 486 yards of total offense and then failing to protect a 34-27 lead late in the fourth quarter. Oakland drove the ball downfield to win the game in the final seconds on 10-yard TD pass from Derek Carr to Seth Roberts, which was followed by a 2-point conversion pass to Michael Crabtree. The Saints did not have a sack or interception in the game.

Players to watch (yes, there are some): DE Cameron Jordan (10 sacks in 2015) has a sack in three of the past five games on the road. LB James Laurinaitis (formerly of the Rams) is aiming for his third straight game against the Giants with nine or more tackles. Free agent pickup LB Craig Robertson (Cleveland) racked up 11 tackles last week in his Saints debut. Safety Kenny Vaccaro had six tackles with a pass defensed in Week 1 against Oakland. Veteran safety Jarius Byrd had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in New Orleans' 52-49 win over the Giants last November.

Special teams: Wil Lutz, a UDFA out of Georgia State, beat out veteran Connor Barth for the PK job in training camp. He went 2-for-4 last week in his NFL debut, hitting from 20 and 42 yards and missing from 50 and 61 yards out. The 61-yard attempt was last-ditch effort at the end of the game that went wide left.

The punter is the steady Thomas Morstead, who is entering his eighth season with the Saints. Backup RB Marcus Murphy is the primary KR and PR.

What's new: Not much. The Saints have been treading water in the NFL Draft the past several seasons. This year's first round pick, much-needed DT Sheldon Rankins out of Louisville, broke his leg in camp and will miss the 2016 season. Last year's top pick, Stanford OT Andrus Peat, has not fulfilled the promise of being a bonafide LT in the NFL. He has struggled at both RT and RG and Payton has since moved him to LG. Last year, no New Orleans player was selected to the Pro Bowl. Jordan was a late replacement on Team Rice after the Patriots' Chandler Jones decided to stay home.

Injuries: CB Delvin Breaux broke his leg in the season opener and will miss at least six weeks. TE Josh Hill (ankle) is out for two-to-three weeks.

Tags: John Fennelly

New York Giants running back Nikita Whitlock (49) works out prior to the game at Raymond James Stadium. (Kim Klement)
New York Giants running back Nikita Whitlock (49) works out prior to the game at Raymond James Stadium. (Kim Klement)

Ralph Vacchiano, NFL Insider | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Giants fullback Nikita Whitlock's season was already over. Now it's a good bet his Giants career is over too.

Whitlock was hit with a 10-game suspension by the NFL on Thursday for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances. It's his second PED-related suspension, following the four-game ban he served back in 2014.

Whitlock is already on injured reserve and out for the season with a foot injury. Since he's a two-time offender who is facing a two-year ban should he fail another test, and since his contract is up at the end of this season, it's hard to imagine the Giants will invite him back in 2017.

Whitlock was due to make $525,000 this season if he remained on IR and didn't reach an injury settlement with the Giants. The suspension will cost him $308,823 of that salary.

The 25-year-old Whitlock was signed to the Giants practice squad late in the 2014 season and beat out Henry Hynoski for the fullback job the next summer. He became a bit of a sensation playing both fullback and defensive tackle in the 14 games before he injured his knee. This summer he only appeared at fullback before what the Giants called a sprained foot landed him on IR.

Whitlock is the second Giants player to be suspended this season. Kicker Josh Brown was hit with a one-game ban for violating the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy when he was arrested for a domestic violence incident in May, 2015. Brown served the suspension on opening day and he has since been activated and will kick for the Giants in their home opener on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

Tags: Nikita Whitlock
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