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Giants vs. Redskins Storylines: What to watch for

Posted Nov 21, 2017

Five storylines to follow as the Giants prep for Thanksgiving night against the Redskins: 


1. QUICK TURNAROUND

The New York Giants (2-8) and Washington Redskins (4-6), both coming off overtime games this past Sunday, will face each other on Thanksgiving at FedEx Field. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. ET (NBC) after the Lions host the Vikings and the Chargers play at Dallas in the early holiday games.

Last week, Big Blue defeated Kansas City, 12-9, on a 23-yard Aldrick Rosas field goal in overtime, which was set up by a spectacular catch from Roger Lewis. Washington, on the other hand, was on the wrong end of an overtime field goal against the Saints in a game the Redskins led, 31-16, with under six minutes to go in regulation. The Redskins have lost four of their last five games after a 3-2 start.

“I think it gives us an opportunity to stack two W’s in five days,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “That’s good. It’s tough for the guys to get ready to play. The players, you know, they poured their hearts out in the overtime game [on Sunday]. So, it’s a quick turnaround for the players. That’s always tough on them, but we don’t make the schedule. We just got to play it, so we’ll be ready to go.”

2. INJURY REPORT

The biggest challenge going from a Sunday overtime game to a Thursday night game is recovery. While the Giants held a walk-through on Monday and a light practice on Tuesday, here is the latest on the injury front: 

Did not practice: RG D.J. Fluker (toe), LB B.J. Goodson (ankle), LB Calvin Munson (quad), OL Justin Pugh (back), WR Sterling Shepard (illness).

Limited: RB Orleans Darkwa (hamstring), DT Damon Harrison (ankle), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (knee), LB Kelvin Sheppard (groin), DT Dalvin Tomlinson (ankle), DE Olivier Vernon (shoulder).

Meanwhile, the Redskins are holding only walk-throughs this week due to their injury problems.

“We’re pretty dinged up and we don’t have really enough guys to get 11-on-11 right now for look squad,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said today on a conference call with Giants reporters. “Most of our look squad guys are going to be playing, so we just got to get them ready to go and walk-through will slow it down and talk about some things and maybe I’ll do a little bit of running tomorrow. We’ll wait to see how we are.”


3. MORE O-LINE CHANGES?

With the Giants already down center Weston Richburg for the rest of the season, Pugh and Fluker appearing on the injury report could cause more changes on an offensive line that did not allow a sack last week and paved the way for another 100-yard rushing game. Undrafted rookie Chad Wheeler made his first career start in Week 11 against the Chiefs and played every snap at right tackle in place of Pugh.

“I think the best way to describe it is you didn’t notice him a whole heck of a lot,” McAdoo said of Wheeler's effort. “He was physical in the run game. I thought he did some good things in pass protection. Now, the challenge for Chad is there’s film of him now. So, when the opponent has film and they know who’s playing, they can go study the tape. So, Chad needs to study himself as well as the opponent this week and take steps to improve.”

Meanwhile, 10-year veteran John Greco, who has started 45 games at right guard, 24 at left guard and one at center, is an option at guard after signing with the team last week. So is Jon Halapio.

“[Greco] played a lot of football in his career,” McAdoo said. “He’s been around a long time, been in a lot of different systems. So we’re confident that John will be able to go and be able to step in for us.”

4. SULLY STICKING TO THE RUN

Last Sunday marked the fifth game since McAdoo handed over play calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan after the head coach called the plays for the first five weeks of the season. The transfer of the responsibility coincided with the loss of receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. Since then, the Giants have committed to the run, averaging 26 attempts for 106.2 yards in the five games since Sullivan started calling plays.

“I think our run game is coming,” McAdoo said. “It’s coming along. You’re seeing some physicality in the guys up front. I think the tight ends are making progress and they’re fitting in. We added a couple new pieces there as well as the offensive line. They’re working well together. I think the backs are making some progress, so the run game is probably the most encouraging thing.

“What you’re seeing – third down is a challenge for us right now. That’s an area where we spend a lot of time and we want to continue to improve and work to improve. But I think Sully has done a tremendous job there calling it. It’s not an easy chore. But we’re making some progress, especially in the run game. He sticks to the run, which I like.”

5. DEFENSIVE MOMENTUM

There were plenty of times in the victory over the Chiefs when Giants fans said to themselves, “That’s the defense we saw last season.” Safety Landon Collins, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and even defensive tackle Damon Harrison all grabbed interceptions while shutting down a top-five offense for 60 minutes plus overtime. Now they face a Washington offense led by Kirk Cousins, who is third in the league in passing yards behind Tom Brady and Russell Wilson. The Redskins rank ninth in total yards (359.4), seventh in passing (256.8), 18th in rushing (102.6) and 12th in scoring (23.8).