Before a stretch of four consecutive NFC East games, the New York Giants (7-2) host the Detroit Lions (3-6) on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Giants, who defeated the Texans in their first game out of the bye week, moved to second place in the divisional race after the Eagles (8-1) suffered their first loss of the season and the Cowboys (6-3) fell to the Packers.
The Lions, meanwhile, claimed consecutive NFC North wins over the Packers (4-6) and Bears (3-7), snapping a five-game losing streak in the process.
Coach Brian Daboll met with the media before Wednesday's practice as on-field preparations began. Here is everything you need to know:
🔹 The Giants have ties with Lions head coach Dan Campbell, whom they originally selected in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft. From Texas A&M, the former tight end appeared in 64 games over four seasons with the Giants, including four in the postseason and 35 overall starts before playing six more NFL seasons for the Cowboys and Lions.
That was long before Brian Daboll arrived in East Rutherford, but the two head coaches still go way back. Daboll, while serving as the offensive coordinator in Miami in 2011, interviewed Campbell for a job. Suffice it to say, he left an impression that is memorable to this day.
"When I was a coordinator for Tony Sparano – Tony said, 'Hey, I got this guy that I think would be good. Why don't we interview him? You take care of the interview.' So, I interviewed Dan, and it was a great interview," Daboll said. "He's slamming chairs on the ground and hitting walls and going through all these drills. You guys know him; he's a fantastic person, great family. It was an entertaining interview. [He] knew a lot. Obviously, he was very passionate, tough as nails you could tell. He was out of breath in half that interview with the stuff he was doing. Yeah, great guy."
Oh, and he got the gig.
"And he was there the next day at 5:30 power cleaning and squatting," Daboll said. "I wasn't there with him. I was watching him. He absolutely did. He's great. I loved working with him."
🔹 Daboll said Campbell is very tough and smart. "That's the way his team plays."
🔹 Tight end Daniel Bellinger is not ready to return as he still deals with a serious eye injury that he suffered in Week 7. Fellow rookie, Evan Neal, however, is ready to "start working" again. The right tackle and seventh overall pick suffered a knee injury during that same game in Jacksonville.
🔹 Daboll used the term "explosive" multiple times in talking about the Lions, who are fourth in the NFL with 42 plays of 20+ yards. Of those, 36 have been through the air, the third-most in the league. "[Quarterback Jared] Goff plays at a high level; he's a very accurate passer downfield, intermediate, off the play action. And then their two runners have taken it to the distance a few times. They're both a little bit different but both very good. They've scored 30 points four times. In six of their losses, four of them have been four points or less. The other one against the Cowboys it was 10-6 with 3:20 left. Explosive team. Good football team. We're going to need a good week of practice."
Daboll added, "Look, they create explosive plays. The other thing they're really good at is down in the red zone, finishing drives. It's a team effort every week of how you need to play a game. But they're an explosive team – no question about it. It kind of all works together with special teams, offense, defense. We're going to have to do a good job of trying to slow them down and make sure we're tackling and not giving up 50-yard runs that they break through, taking care of the deep part of the field and things like that on defense. Offensively, do our job in terms of executing and trying to go down and score points and then create field position in the kicking game – another good team. Dan has run a variety of fakes since he's been there: onside kicks, surprise onside kicks, fake punts. [Detroit special teams coordinator Dave] Fipp does a good job on special teams. We're going to have to play well."
🔹 Through 10 weeks, the Giants boast the second-ranked defense in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on just 38.2 percent of opponent trips (Denver is first at 28.6). What's the key? "Execution. They execute well. It's not very complicated in terms of if you do your job, you give yourself a chance to make a play or execute a particular (play). Whether it's offense, defense – whatever it may be – those guys do a good job each week of honing in on the game plan. Coaches do a good job of installing the game plan, and at the end of the day, the players got to make the plays down there. It's been important. They've done a good job of holding them out (of the end zone)."
🔹 Guard Shane Lemieux has "improved" from last week, when he returned to practice after missing the first half of the season with a toe injury. "So, we'll take it one day at a time here. I'm hopeful."
🔹 Daboll praised Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, the second overall pick this past April. "A good player; that's why he was selected high. He made a great play against Chicago, too, which led to an interception off of a screen pass to a tight end. He recognized it, and he kind of dropped back, made [Chicago quarterback Justin] Fields throw it over the top, [Detroit cornerback Jeff] Okudah picks it off, runs it back. Instinctive, can play a wide variety of spots. Can play inside some, does a good job on his field goal rush with his movement. A good football player."
🔹 Daboll was then asked about the Giants' own rookie edge rusher, Kayvon Thibodeaux. "I think [outside linebackers coach] Drew [Wilkins] does a really good job with him. He understands the importance of setting the edge and knockback and getting off blocks. We ask him to do a variety of things, [not] just setting the run, but dropping, rushing. I think he's made progress since he's been here."
🔹 Daboll was asked about being smart with Barkley in practice as the NFL rushing leader comes off a career-high 35 carries. "We make sure we give all the running backs reps in there so he's not taking every single rep. If we have to back off some, we back off some. Again, every player's a little bit different. You treat them fairly based on what they go through during the week of a game, too. He takes a lot of shots. Him and I have good conversations. If he needs something, I'm more than happy to give it to him."
🔹 On Tuesday, the team added veteran defensive lineman Vernon Butler, a former first-round pick, to the practice squad. "It's like the offensive line – you try to get as many of them in there as you can. I know Vernon; [general manager] Joe [Schoen] knows Vernon. He came in, had a little bit of a workout. So, I thought he would be a good addition to the practice squad."
🔹 Rookie safety Dane Belton will be limited to start the week, but "he'll be fine. He's just limited today."