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5 Things We Learned

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5 Things We Learned: Andrew Thomas 'sets the tone'


The Giants continued to ramp up preparations for the Cowboys on Thursday.

Prior to the team taking the practice field, coordinators Wink Martindale, Mike Kafka and Thomas McGaughey met with the media for their weekly press conferences.

Here are five things we learned from the Giants coordinators.

1. DeVito growing into starting role

Quarterback Tommy DeVito has appeared in each of the last two games for the Giants. He took over for the injured Tyrod Taylor during the Week 8 contest against the Jets, and did the same this past Sunday after Daniel Jones tore his ACL. While the offense leaned heavily on Saquon Barkley against the Jets, DeVito was called upon to throw the ball a lot more against the Raiders. After going in for Jones in the second quarter, the rookie completed 15 of 20 passes (75 percent) for 150 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and added 17 yards on the ground.

Coach Brian Daboll announced on Wednesday that DeVito will be the team's starting quarterback this weekend in Dallas. DeVito will become the first rookie free agent quarterback to start a regular-season game for the Giants in a non-strike season in the common draft era.

Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka told reporters that the 25-year-old rookie has shown a lot of growth since he first signed as a rookie free agent in May.

"Tommy's continued to grow every single day that he's been here from rookie camp," Kafka said. "Just learning the offense and understanding how to be a pro and doing all the little things, all the things that work into that. Whether it's studying, preparation, being in the huddle with the guys, being a leader and a teammate and then understanding what the NFL game is about and how much detail that goes into that. I think he's really honed in on that. Each week, you look his notes and it's just like getting better and better every single day, so that's probably the biggest thing...

"He approaches the position with confidence, and obviously when you're playing quarterback, you want to have that confidence, you want to have that demeanor when you walk into the huddle. I think he has that. It's something that looks like he's had his whole life. He's a confident kid, not just on the field but also off the field, too. He brings an energy with him that kind of permeates throughout the room."

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 10 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.

2. Wink: Dak is playing at 'the highest level'

The Cowboys have not struggled to put points on the board this season. Through their first eight games, Dallas ranks third in points scored, and perhaps the biggest factor in that has been the performance of quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott has completed a career-best 70.2 percent of his passes this season to go with 2,011 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. After a slow start to the year in which he was responsible for multiple touchdowns in just one of Dallas' first five games, Prescott has reached that mark in each of the last three games. He threw for a touchdown and added a score on the ground against the Chargers in Week 6, and over the last two games has totaled seven touchdowns with just one interception. During that three-game stretch, he has topped 270 passing yards in each outing while averaging 316.7 yards through the air.

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale did not shy away from praising the talented Cowboys quarterback's play this season.

"Well, got a great challenge this week," Martindale told the media. "Dak's playing at a high level, (Cowboys wide receiver) CeeDee's (Lamb) playing at a high level. They are really turning it on as an offense and really starting to click and when I say Dak's playing at the highest level, I think he's really back. He's healthy and he's distributing the ball well."

3. Thomas 'sets the tone' for the line

For the first time since Week 1, Andrew Thomas returned to the lineup for the Giants this past Sunday. The talented left tackle injured his hamstring early in the season opener, which forced him to miss the next seven games. His return to action led to yet another reshuffle of the O-line. From left to right, the starters were Thomas, LG Justin Pugh, C John Michael Schmitz, RG Ben Bredeson and RT Evan Neal, who also made his return after missing the previous two games.

Neal suffered an injury in his return and appears unlikely to suit up this weekend. However, Thomas got through the game without any setbacks. The All-Pro tackle is a tone-setter for the entire O-line, and with another week separating him from the hamstring injury, Thomas should see even better results against the Cowboys, according to his offensive coordinator.

"It was great to have him back out there, you saw it right away..." said Kafka. "I think he did a great job in the game. I think the more he's going to play, the better he's going to look. I think it's one of those things, he's a leader, he's a captain, he's back in the huddle. That whole offensive line now ramps up, it's a little bit more juice there, too. He certainly sets the tone and tempo for that group."

4. Injury updates; Jackson, Neal not practicing

As mentioned above, Neal hurt his other ankle in Week 9 and has yet to practice this week, putting his status for Sunday in doubt. If Neal is unable to go, Tyre Phillips will likely start at right tackle. Phillips filled in for Neal in Weeks 7 and 8, and again this past Sunday once Neal left the game. Against the Raiders, Phillips allowed one pressure on 13 pass block snaps.

Joining Neal as a non-participant in practice this week has been cornerback Adoree' Jackson. The veteran corner suffered a concussion in the Week 9 loss and is still working his way through the concussion protocol. Jackson is also listed on the injury report with the neck injury that sidelined him for the Week 7 contest against the Commanders.

Running back Deon Jackson is also in the concussion protocol and did not practice on Thursday. Meanwhile, Dexter Lawrence returned to practice after receiving a rest day to start the week, while offensive lineman Sean Harlow has returned from a personal day Wednesday.

However, guard Mark Glowinski did not practice Thursday due to personal reasons and his status for Sunday is unclear.

Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari was also on the practice field for the second consecutive day as a limited participant. Ojulari was designated to return to practice Wednesday, and Daboll said the team is hopeful the outside linebacker can suit up this weekend.

5. Latest on kicker situation

The Giants placed kicker Graham Gano on injured reserve last week due to a knee injury. In need of a new kicker, the Giants actually brought in two players to help fill the void left by Gano. Cade York was signed to the active roster from the Titans practice' squad, while Randy Bullock was signed to the Giants' practice squad.

The Giants decided to elevate Bullock for last week's game while making York inactive, a decision that special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey explained on Thursday.

"We just thought it was best for the team," said McGaughey. "You get a veteran guy, quick turnaround, done it before. It makes it really easy. He's done a good job. Both of them have done a good job since they've been here. We just went with Randy because it was just the best for us at that time…

"It was a quick turnaround. That's late in the week, you want to make sure the guy feels comfortable, just all the different mechanics and different nuances between the two different kickers, just being able to get that ironed out as quick as you can. You get a quick little session on Friday, he just kicked in the workout on Thursday, you get pregame on Sunday, and now you've got to play. So, we didn't have a lot of time to mull over who was going to do what. You've got to make a decision and go with it, because you've got to get the reps in."

Bullock has played in 139 regular-season games since entering the NFL in 2013. This is a stark difference from York, who has played in just 17 games as a rookie last year for the Browns. McGaughey hopes they can help develop York and help the 22-year-old kicker grow.

"He's here for us right now," the special teams coordinator said about the young kicker. "We've got to try and make the best out of his situation and try and get him better for the time that he's here. He's very talented. You're right. He has a very strong leg. He's very talented. He's done some really good things in his career, and that's why he's here. We've identified that. His whole goal is to work to get better every day. We've got to make sure that we're doing those little things to help him get better every day."

View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.


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