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Players to Watch

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Players to Watch: Rookie Daniel Bellinger on the rise

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The Giants will wrap up their three-game homestand on Sunday when they take on the Chicago Bears in Week 4.

The two teams are meeting for the fifth consecutive season, with Chicago having won the previous three games. The Giants are looking to rebound from Monday night's 23-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, while the Bears look for back-to-back wins after beating the Houston Texans at home, 23-20.

The Giants are hoping to get to 3-1 ahead of next week's trip overseas to take on the Green Bay Packers in London.

Here are five players to watch in Week 4:

QB Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones has been solid in the first three games of the season. The fourth-year quarterback has completed 64.1 percent of his passes with has three TD strikes and two interceptions. However, he has yet to top 200 passing yards in a game, throwing for a total of 560. Jones has also been sacked 13 times, tied for the third-most in the NFL. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he was pressured 24 times against the Cowboys, the most any quarterback has been pressured this season, the second-most over the past two seasons and the most by any Giants quarterback since the network began tracking the stat in 2009.

Jones used his running ability to help against the Cowboys' pass rush. The quarterback used his legs to scramble and help move the football on several occasions. He finished the game with 79 yards on nine carries (8.8 avg.), the third-highest rushing total of his career and the most he's gained on the ground since Week 2 of the 2021 season. Jones has 125 rushing yards on the season.

"Well, you never want your quarterback to take any hits. But I'd say Daniel has a unique skill set too in terms of his athleticism," Brian Daboll said Wednesday. "I think he's done a good job of taking care of himself when he does run with it. I would say there's not a lot of design runs in there, there was a couple; there's not a lot of design runs.

"There's a fair amount of scrambles, and he's got a couple of different choices (with) what he can do when he scrambles. One is, obviously, throw it down the field if people uncover. Two is try to throw it away, and three is to make yards. If he has an opportunity to make yards, you can tell a quarterback, 'Don't take this hit' or 'Do this'. And then they start thinking about things. I think Daniel's making good decisions, when to take off. He's tried to protect himself."

Chicago surrendered 245 yards and a touchdown against Texans quarterback Davis Mills last week after allowing Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to complete 19 of 25 passes for 234 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

View photos from practice as the New York Giants gear up for their Week 4 matchup against the Chicago Bears.

RB Saquon Barkley

The Giants' rushing attack heads into Week 4 averaging 169.3 rushing yards per game, the fourth-highest mark in the league. The team's 5.6 yards per attempt is the second-best in the NFL, trailing only Detroit (5.9), and the play of Saquon Barkley has played a significant role in that. Barkley ranks second in the league in rushing yards with 317 (Browns RB Nick Chubb leads with 341), while his 408 total yards from scrimmage is the most in the NFL.

On top of his success on the ground, Barkley has also played a crucial role in the passing game. The fifth-year running back has totaled 13 receptions, tied for the fifth-most among all running backs, for 91 yards. Against the Cowboys, he reeled in four passes for 45 yards, the second-highest receiving total on the team. Jones knows that Barkley's athleticism often provides the Giants with a mismatch, regardless of the defender guarding him.

"His skillset gives us those opportunities to get him in space and allow him to make plays, make guys miss," Jones said about Barkley's role in the passing game. "He's shown a lot of ability to do that, so we'll continue to work through it and use him in those situations as best as we can."

Chicago enters this matchup giving up 157.0 rushing yards per game this season, tied with Seattle for the second-most in the NFL. They are also allowing 4.8 yards per rushing attempt. Last week, rookie RB Dameon Pierce had 80 yards and a TD on 20 carries.

TE Daniel Bellinger

After going without a target in the season opener, tight end Daniel Bellinger caught his first NFL reception against the Panthers in Week 2 and took it 16 yards for a touchdown. He followed by catching four passes for 40 yards against the Cowboys. Heading into Week 4, his 70.1 overall PFF grade ranks No. 7 among tight ends and is the top mark among rookies at the position.

"Bell' has done a great job," said offensive coordinator Mike Kafka. "(Tight ends) Coach (Andy) Bischoff has done a great job with him since he's gotten in here. I think you're just seeing that type of growth from that kid. He's just putting in the work every single day and he's improving. He's improving a lot of things – run blocking, route running. You're seeing it at practice and you're seeing it show up in the game."

Following the season-ending injury to Sterling Shepard, the Giants will need other playmakers in the offense to step up. Bellinger has displayed strong hands since rookie minicamp in May and is faced with a big opportunity. The Bears allowed Texans tight end Pharaoh Brown and Jordan Akins to each catch three passes for 31 yards, with Akins also finding the end zone.

View rare photos of the all-time history between the New York Giants and Chicago Bears.

OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux

Kayvon Thibodeaux made his NFL debut on Monday night. The No. 5 overall pick played 37 defensive snaps, and coach Brian Daboll said the outside linebacker was on a pitch count in his first game back from a knee injury. Thibodeaux put together a solid performance in his limited action, picking up a 73.2 overall grade which ranked as the 11th-best mark among all rookies in Week 3. He registered one pressure, one tackle and a pass breakup. Thibodeaux's 73.2 overall grade is the highest among rookie edge rushers through three games. 

"I would say that you're not superman," Thibodeaux said on what he learned in his first game. "There are times where you want to be the reason we win, there are times where you want to be the guy and you've got to realize that the game isn't played like that. There are eleven people for a reason, it's a team sport for a reason. So just making sure that you contribute as much as you can and to the best of your ability given the circumstances."

Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush got rid of the ball on an average of 2.3 seconds after the snap, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale noted on Thursday, which was a factor in Thibodeaux and the whole the defense failing to register a sack. But as Martindale told the media, there is "nowhere to go up but" for both Thibodeaux and his fellow edge rusher Azeez Ojulari.

"He really hasn't practiced that much since the injury," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale told the media. "He's done a lot of rehabbing and all that stuff, but he hasn't done a lot of 11 on 11 work, with Kayvon. As you know, and I think Brian noted, they were on a pitch count. Zeez drew two holding calls, so that tells me that he's doing things right. I think it's nowhere to go but up with those two and I'm excited to see it…

"I think it's going to continue to get better. I saw it in practice last week, but the week prior when we didn't play him, that's when I think he told you guys he was going to play that week, you didn't see it. I think it's just going to continue to build as he goes." 

The Bears are allowing the second-most pressures per dropback, according to Pro Football Focus. Chicago also ranks 32nd in sacks allowed per dropback.

S Xavier McKinney

Xavier McKinney was the breakout player on the Giants defense last season, leading the team with five interceptions. The third-year safety is yet to record a turnover in 2022, but he has begun to make an impact on the defense. McKinney picked up a tackle for loss against the Cowboys, his first of the season, while adding a pass breakup to his final stats. He has pass breakups in two consecutive games and three on the season.

McKinney earned a solid 71.6 overall grade for his performance in Week 3. It was his highest-grade of the young season. He also received a team-high 82.9 tackling grade. McKinney allowed just one reception for 19 yards on three targets, good for a passer rating against of 56.3, on 30 coverage snaps.

The young safety is likely to spend some of Sunday's game covering Bears tight end Cole Kmet. After catching 60 passes for 612 yards last season, Kmet has only caught two passes for 40 yards this year, both of which came in the Bears' Week 3 win.

Once again, the New York Giants are bringing back their classic blue uniforms from the '80s and '90s this Sunday as part of two Legacy Games presented by Quest.