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5 players to watch in Giants vs. Falcons


As they say, it's not about the Xs and Os. It's the Jimmys and Joes.

Here are five players to watch in the New York Giants' Week 3 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons:

RB Saquon Barkley

After recording 11 touches on 29 snaps in Week 1, Barkley ran the ball 13 times and caught three passes on 58 plays in Washington. That all occurred in a five-day stretch after Barkley hadn't played in a game in nearly a year since suffering his knee injury. The Thursday night game, however, always provides an extended break on the backend, which was desirable for Barkley's acclimation.

"I think it's a positive for the team knowing that he can make explosive runs for us," coach Joe Judge said of Barkley, who had a 41-yard run against Washington. "I see him going out there every day, he practices hard, he plays with confidence. Obviously, there are some things coming off an injury like that that you've got to have certain stepping stones, but like I've said all along, when the medical team says he's greenlighted to go, we've got to go and start playing with him. He's done a good job preparing for us. he's done a good job in performance for us and we're going to keep on going with him."

LB Azeez Ojulari

The second-round pick is the first Giants player with at least one full sack in each of his first two career games. But it is another part of his game that encourages assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

"I've seen a young player who's made a few plays, and he wants more," Graham said. "The thing that's encouraging (to) me with Azeez for these young edge guys, is his ability to play the run. He's playing stout in the run game. You think about a young edge player, they're thinking about, 'Okay, I've got to get sacks. Everybody wants to know how many sacks I'm going to have.' He's playing stout in the run game, that's what's encouraging for me. Whether it's the challenge of last week dealing with those tackles and those tight ends from Washington, or Denver. Then you go into this week (and) now you're dealing with, again, big bodies out there. It's a challenge for him and I'm excited to see how it plays out, but he's been doing a good job. He's been working hard, and he knows he has to do better, but we all do. We all do. It's early in the season."

CB James Bradberry

Logan Ryan compared Bradberry's performance last week to Steph Curry hitting a three-pointer at the buzzer to win the game after having an off-night. The Pro Bowl cornerback intercepted Taylor Heinicke with 2:22 left in the game, which led to Graham Gano's go-ahead field goal at the two-minute warning. However, it would not be enough as Washington marched back down the field to win the game on a second-chance field goal. Bradberry and the secondary have a tall task in Week 3 with the likes of Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts.

QB Daniel Jones

Jones can become the fourth quarterback since 1970 with a rushing touchdown in each of his first three weeks of a season. Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, Charlie Frye, and Kyler Murray are the others. Currently, the third-year pro is one of 16 quarterbacks with at least 500 passing yards in the young season and the only one of them who also has more than 100 rushing yards.

WR Sterling Shepard

Shepard is currently tied with Amari Cooper (Cowboys), Cooper Kupp (Rams), and T.J. Hockenson (Lions) for the NFL lead in receptions (16). He needs six more catches to move ahead Chris Calloway for eighth place on the franchise's career list.

View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons.

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