The Giants have faced two of the most prolific tight ends currently in the NFL this season. Sunday in Atlanta will make it three.
After already taking on Dallas’ Jason Witten twice and then Jimmy Graham last week against New Orleans, the Giants now plan for the godfather of modern tight ends, Tony Gonzalez. Through 14 weeks, the three of them are the most targeted players at the position.
On pace for his most productive season as a Falcon, Gonzalez fits the mold of the Giants’ most recent competition in Graham. Rather, Graham fits the mold of Gonzalez, who’s been at it since 1997 with 12 Pro Bowls and every major record held by a tight end.
Tom Coughlin was asked about their similarities after Thursday’s practice.
“Both are outstanding players, outstanding targets,” the head coach said. “Of course the one guy, Tony Gonzalez, has been doing it for a very long time at a very high level. He continues that to this day.”
On a team with wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, the 36-year-old Gonzalez leads the Falcons with 81 catches and seven touchdowns and has accounted for 831 yards.
Last week, the Giants had a tune-up going against Graham, whom they kept out of the end zone on five catches for 56 yards. Graham was targeted 10 times in the game and saw a variety of looks from the Giants defense, as is often the game plan against dynamic tight ends.
The most notable was from first-year safety
Last week’s success will factor into this week’s scheme, but defensive coordinator Perry Fewell knows Gonzalez’s mastery is one of a kind.
“I don’t think there are similarities because Tony, in my opinion, is a Hall of Famer,” Fewell said. “He’s been doing it a long time. He knows all the tricks of the trade. You can see, he has those veteran moves down that you can’t practice. He’ll be a challenge in himself to contain.”