Eli and Peyton Manning share more than a surname. They also play with a similar set of targets.
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Eli focused on Broncos D
The Giants quarterback has a taller, bigger receiver in Hakeem Nicks on the outside and a smaller, quicker one that can play inside in Victor Cruz. Meanwhile, the Denver quarterback has Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker to fill those respective roles.
Terrell Thomas, the Giants' slot corner, is concerned with the latter.
Welker, a perennial Pro Bowl player standing at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, caught nine passes for 67 yards in his Broncos debut last week, including two of Peyton's seven touchdowns. Thomas sees firsthand Eli's version of him every day at practice with Cruz, which will prepare the defensive back for the matchup.
"Cruz is a mix because Cruz is small and compact and explosive at the same time," Thomas said of the 6-foot, 204-pound Cruz. "So going against all of our receivers, going against JJ [Jerrel Jernigan] -- he's a little short, quick guy -- both of them definitely give me the look I need to play the slot position against Welker."
One key for Thomas will be using his size at the line with Welker.
"Without a doubt, you've got to use your strengths," Thomas said. "His strength is being smaller, being quick. I've got to use my size, my long arms and my strength. So, if I can get my hands on him, disrupt his release, then I definitely want to do that."
Thomas, who led the Giants in total tackles in 2009 and 2010, knows how to be physical.
After missing the previous two seasons due to knee injuries, Thomas played in his first regular-season game in 980 days (since Jan. 2, 2011) at Dallas in Week 1 and notched seven tackles (six solo). He started at nickel corner and played well and hard enough for defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to not even consider holding him back in a game because of his knee.
"I don't think about it," Fewell said. "We don't think about it as a staff. When he made the roster and we put him on the field, we don't say we hope his knee holds up. We don't really think about that. We were pleasantly pleased with… I think he had 48 plays in the Dallas game and we were pleasantly pleased that his conditioning level was good and we thought he competed well in that football game and so we just think that he'll get better and better."