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Game Preview: New coaches renew old rivalry


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Aaron Robinson hopes to distinguish himself with many accomplishments in his NFL career, but for now he'll have to settle for being the first Giants player in memory to appear on an injury report after undergoing an appendectomy.

The second-year cornerback has had an unusual two-week affliction, but he expects to be in the starting lineup tomorrow when the Giants host the Chicago Bears in MetLife Stadium in the first of their two Legacy games.

"Everything feels good," Robinson said. "I've been out there working with the trainers the last couple of days, the last couple of weeks. Everything feels fine. Just I'm out there trying not to think about it but also protect myself the best I can. I think I'll be ready to go."

Defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said, "He's had a good week. He's been into it. He was into it even when he was out. He would come and could barely move, and he was still in meetings taking notes, being locked in. That's what you love about the kid. He's always going to give you everything he's got. You never question that. We'll just see how it goes from here."

Robinson's ordeal began when he had what seemed to be a routine stomachache on Monday, Sept. 12, the day after he played 77 snaps (62 on defense, 15 on special teams) in the Giants' season-opening victory in Tennessee.

"I didn't think too much of it," Robinson said. "It carried over through the night into Tuesday, and then it was like, 'Something's not right.' I started poking at it, playing with it. The area where I was having the pain, I would poke at it – the right side – and it would kind of just feel iffy to me. It wasn't feeling right. And it carried over, and I was like, 'I got to hit up the trainers and ask them about it.'

"I ended up calling the trainers; they asked me some questions and told me, 'It's time to go to the ER.' So, right then and there, I was like, 'Oh man. What's going on?'"

Robinson, 24, was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center, where he learned his condition was more serious than an ordinary pain in the belly.

"They did their tests and told me I had a swollen appendix," he said. "They kept me overnight and told me if it didn't calm down, they were going to have to remove it. And that's what had to happen.

"It was definitely out of the blue. I'd never even heard of that (appendicitis) until that point. And I did some research, asked a million questions. And it was definitely surreal and shocking, to be honest."

The next day, doctors cut three small incisions in and near Robinson's stomach and removed his appendix. He went home that afternoon.

Robinson missed the Giants' first two home games, against Carolina and Dallas. Rookie Cor'Dale Flott started for him at right cornerback. Robinson is eager to return to the field tomorrow.

"It's been two weeks now," said Robinson. "I'm back out there for the first time competing with the team, and everything feels fine."

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

*The Giants and Bears are two of the NFL's storied franchises, with a rivalry that dates to 1925. They are now in similar situations. Both teams rebooted in the offseason, hiring new general managers and head coaches and largely overhauled their coaching staffs. Brian Daboll was one of 11 coaching candidates to interview for the Bears job in January, while Giants GM Joe Schoen was one of 14 candidates the Bears spoke to for their opening. Chicago general manager Ryan Poles interviewed for the Giants GM job. The Bear's first-year coach is Matt Eberflus, a friend of Daboll's since they coached together on the Cleveland Browns' staff in 2009-10.

The teams have young quarterbacks who were among the first 11 selections in their respective drafts, salary cap constraints, and an unsuccessful recent past that led to the hierarchy changes and required a cultural improvement.

Each team was lightly regarded prior to the season, but are among the 13 teams at 2-1. The winner will certainly be dubbed a surprising 3-1.

"I think you learn a lot about yourself when you play, when you coach, and we're a work in progress," Giants coach Brian Daboll said. "We're still working to improve in a lot of different areas. I think we've done some things well; we've done some things we can improve on, all of us. This is our fourth game, really the most important game obviously because it's the next one. And we try to take things from the past, the previous games, and make sure we tighten those things up whether they're good or they're not as good as you want them to be and use them when you're preparing for the team you're about to play."

"You want to win every game you can, so you definitely would rather be 3-1 than 2-2," running back Saquon Barkley said. "You don't go in any game with the mindset like, 'Okay, if we're 2-2 m, then what?' If that happens, then you prepare for that, but you go in with the mindset of trying to win a game, trying to do whatever you can to win a game. If you can get to 3-1 in the first quarter of a season, obviously not looking too far ahead, never satisfied, but I would say that's a pretty good start. We got to find a way to get to 3-1 against a very good team who's playing really well. So, we'll try to capitalize on that."

*The Giants' defense had neither a sack nor a takeaway in their 23-16 loss to Dallas Monday night. The unit has three sacks in three games.

"They'll come," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. "They (the Cowboys) were running toss sweeps on third-and-12. That's a pass rush down. So, they know that we can affect them and attack their protections. They'll come."

So, presumably, will the takeaways. The Giants have three, but only one by the defense. The other two were by the special teams.

"I think the takeaway part comes in bunches, I really do," Martindale said. "And the first thing's first, we got to tackle well. Then the turnovers come. But right now, I want us to tackle well. And then the turnovers will come."

*Chicago's offensive numbers are those of a throwback team. Of their 159 offensive plays, 104 have been runs (65.4%). The Bears average an NFC-best 186.7 rushing yards while also averaging 5.4 yards a carry. posting a 5.4 yards-per-rush average.

In three games, quarterback Justin Fields has 23 completions and 297 yards. To put that in perspective, 24 quarterbacks have at least 23 completions in a game and five quarterbacks have thrown for at least 297 yards in multiple starts this season. Chicago is the first team to complete 23 or fewer passes through three games since the 1982 New England Patriots.

"You have to keep bigger people on the field longer than you want to," Martindale said. "They're trying to catch us subbing. They're trying to do all the little tricks to throw you off balance, and you have to be prepared for that, which we will be."

*The Giants have scored 47 of their 56 points after halftime, while Chicago has scored 32 of 52 points in the final two quarters.

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.


First Legacy Game this Sunday; Giants bring back classic blue uniform

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