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Giants vs. Washington: 5 Players to watch in Week 6

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The Giants will welcome the Washington Football Team to MetLife Stadium on Sunday for their second consecutive NFC East matchup. The Giants swept the season series over Washington last season, as Daniel Jones picked up two of his wins as a rookie against this division foe. On Sept. 29, Jones threw for 225 yards and one touchdown and posted 33 rushing yards in his first MetLife Stadium start and the Giants allowed a season-low point total in a 24-3 victory. In his second start against Washington, Jones threw for 352 yards and five touchdowns in the Giants' 41-35 overtime win.

Washington enters this matchup just a game ahead of the Giants. Ron Rivera's squad defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the season opener before losing their next four outings. Last week, they fell to the Los Angeles Rams, 30-10.

Here are five players to watch in this Week 6 contest:

QB Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones has struggled to find the end zone this year. He threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns against a tough Steelers defense in Week 1. Since then, he has not topped 241 passing yards and has failed to throw a touchdown pass.

Jones has at least one turnover in every game, totaling eight on the year. However, there have been some positives in Jones' performance this season. He has at least 21 rushing yards in four of the five games, with two outings of at least 45 yards. On top of that, Jones has earned a 74.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, ranking 14th-among the league's quarterbacks.

Washington's defense has had a mixed performance this season. The unit ranks 7th in passing yards allowed, having surrendered 1,134 yards through the air (226.8 yards per game). In Week 5, the Rams' Jared Goff completed 70 percent of his passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns with a rushing score. Washington has given up nine passing touchdowns (ranks 18th in the NFL).

"I think we just need to give everybody an opportunity to learn the system, get comfortable with it and keep moving forward and making adjustments by game plans," Giants head coach Joe Judge said of Jones and the offense. "But Daniel's been coming to work hard every day. Look, he's been making a lot of progress. There's a lot of good football to learn from. He's doing a lot of things to help this team. I'm very pleased with his effort, his attitude, his leadership on the team. The guys respond to him."

TE Evan Engram

Engram has just 18 receptions for 147 yards so far this year, adding two rushes for nine yards and a rushing touchdown. The talented tight end has topped 35 receiving yards just once, catching six passes for 65 yards against the Chicago Bears in Week 2, and has yet to catch a touchdown pass.

Engram has found some success against Washington in the past. In four career battles, he has caught 15 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. Engram suited up for only one of last season's meetings and finished with four receptions for 54 yards.

Although Washington's pass defense has played well, the unit has had trouble limiting opposing tight ends. Rivera's defense has surrendered five touchdowns over three games to the position. In last week's loss to the Rams, Gerald Everett snagged four passes for 90 yards, while the unit gave up two touchdown catches to Mark Andrews the previous week.

"Evan has done a really nice job for us," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said this week. "There have been some really positive plays that he's made over the course of the first five games. Certainly, areas where he can get better and we can get better. Offensive football is a collaborative thing, it's everybody. The success you have running the ball, blocking them up front, protecting with your offensive line will impact all your skill players.

"At times we've done a really good job in our run game protecting in our run game and in our protections. Again, that will impact how we can get the skill guys involved. I think Evan has done a good job taking advantage of some opportunities we've given him and certainly we are trying to create more and more for him and for all our guys."

LT Andrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas has had to go up against some of the league's top edge rushers in his first few NFL games. This list includes Pittsburgh's Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt, Chicago's Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, San Francisco's Arik Armstead, the Rams' Michael Brockers and Dallas' DeMarcus Lawrence and Aldon Smith.

Thomas has struggled at times in pass protection, but the rookie left tackle has begun to show some signs of growth. In last week's loss to the Cowboys, the 21-year-old registered a run blocking grade of 70+, according to PFF. This played a big role in Devonta Freeman (60 yards) recording the team's highest individual rushing performance of the season.

Things are unlikely to get any easier for the left tackle this week, as Washington boasts yet another talented group of edge rushers. The No. 2 pick in this year's draft, Chase Young, has picked up 2.5 sacks, three tackles and a forced fumble in four games, while Montez Sweat has recorded 3.0 sacks, four tackles for loss and a forced fumble in five games. On top of the talented pair of young pass rushers, Washington's defense also has Ryan Kerrigan, who has 11.5 career sacks against the Giants.

"I think it's a fair fight every week for everyone in the NFL," Judge said of his rookie tackle's matchups. "You expect talent on both sides of the ball. He's seen really a level of elite pass rushers, that changes nothing this week. Look, (Chase) Young and (Montez) Sweat, these guys are really, really good coming off the edge. They're both explosively fast, they're both athletic and they do a great job instinctively of understanding when you're oversetting of coming underneath, and if you're staying too tight, of running by you with speed. They do a great job of getting to the quarterback, putting pressure on him and forcing bad throws that gives the DBs behind them opportunities.

"But in terms of Andrew, him and Cam (Fleming) both are going to have a tremendous challenge this week. They're preparing hard right now, and we have to get out on the grass and do it."

OLBs Kyler Fackrell/Markus Golden

The Giants' defense was dealt a tough blow last week as outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter, in the midst of a promising third NFL season, was lost for the remainder of the year with an Achilles injury. On top of that, second-year edge rusher Oshane Ximines was placed on IR ahead of last week's game, meaning he will miss at least the next two outings. This opens the door for Kyler Fackrell and Markus Golden to step into bigger roles.

Fackrell has played on 64 percent of the defensive snaps, picking up two sacks, six tackles for loss and a pass defended. Last week, he recorded a 46-yard interception return for a TD. Golden led the Giants in sacks last season with 10. This year, he has 0.5 sacks, three QB hits and one tackle for a loss after having played in just 38 percent of the defensive snaps.

Washington has struggled to protect the quarterback this season, regardless of who was under center. Through five weeks, Washington has surrendered 21 sacks, the second-most in the NFL (one behind Cincinnati). In last week's loss to the Rams, Rivera's offensive line gave up eight sacks.

"(They) sit by each other in their remote learning centers in our meeting rooms the way we're set up," outside linebackers coach/senior advisor Bret Bielema said about Fackrell and Golden. "Those two are kind of over there together. They have a rapport on the field. As veterans who were new to this scheme that was a little bit different, they both talked through that and worked through it. I think it's been a nice balancing act between those two and I think to find them out on the field for 50-plus plays together, which has really happened for nobody this far into the season, we really hadn't had two guys playing together for the majority of the game in any of our games to this point. They survived and advanced. Did enough things to make us competitive, but we didn't get a W and weren't able to close that thing out. Those two working with whoever else is in the lineup on Sunday will be a big part of our success moving forward."

CB James Bradberry

James Bradberry has been nothing short of spectacular since joining the Giants. The 27-year-old has registered an interception, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery, but has been amazing at getting between opposing receivers and the football. Heading into Week 6, Bradberry leads the NFL with nine pass breakups, two more than anybody else in the league.

The veteran has done a tremendous job of shutting down some of the league's top wide receivers, keeping JuJu Smith-Schuster, Allen Robinson, Amari Cooper, among others, in check. Bradberry's performance has earned him an 85.7 overall grade and an 87.3 coverage grade from PFF, both ranking second among the league's cornerbacks (trailing only Green Bay's Jaire Alexander). Last week's matchup against Cooper resulted in just one catch for eight yards.

Next up on the list of talented wide receivers is Washington's Terry McLaurin. McLaurin hauled in 58 passes last season for 919 yards and seven touchdowns, and has looked just as good this year. Through five games, the second-year pro has recorded 29 receptions for 413 yards and a touchdown. McLaurin has topped 80 yards in three of five games, while eclipsing the 115-yard plateau in two outings. When Washington faced off against Carolina last season, Bradberry, then a Panther, helped limit him to two receptions for eight yards.

"In terms of James and what he allows us to do, James is a perimeter corner that is held in high regard throughout the league," assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said this week. "People respect him because of his play. He allows us to, whether you want to isolate him on a particular receiver or it also might free up for us to helps guys in different places. That's how you have to kind of look at it. It goes into the game plan part…

"For James' unique set of skills, the ball skills are there, the way he breaks up passes. His reaction and his anticipation are there, that helps us in terms of when we're in our zone coverages. In man coverage, his ability to sink his hips and stay with his man and have good eye control. It makes it (so) you're not worried about this side of the field or that guy."

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