EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Giants left tackle Will Beatty today made his job sound very simple.
"Here's the thing about offensive linemen," Beatty said. "I know where Eli (Manning) is going to be on every play. All I have to do is stay between the defender and him and my job is golden."
His job will be somewhat more difficult this week because the defender he will try to keep away from Manning is St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, a former first-round draft choice, 2013 Pro Bowler and a player regarded throughout the NFL as one of the best at his position.
But Quinn is not a solo act. The Rams have one of the NFL's most formidable defensive lines. In addition to Quinn, it includes left end Chris Long, the No. 2 overall selection of the 2008 NFL Draft; tackle Aaron Donald, a first-round choice this year who is getting some Rookie of the Year support; and Michael Brockers, a good all-around player. Backups William Hayes, Kendall Langford, Alex Carrington and Eugene Sims are also productive.
"They've got an awesome D-line and all four guys can stop the run and rush the passer," said right guard John Jerry. "So we've definitely got our work cut out for us this week."
"They play hard," said right tackle Justin Pugh. "Obviously, 94 (Quinn) and 91 (Long) have been around a while. They've made plays since they've come into the league. You've got to definitely respect those guys and we've got to go out there and match their intensity and match their toughness."
Manning doesn't seem overly concerned that Quinn and Co. will be chasing him on Sunday, when the teams collide in the Edward Jones Dome.
"Everybody is going to have guys that are good players," he said. "I'll let the offensive line worry about those guys and getting them blocked up. I am going to worry about my reads and what the defensive backs are doing and try to get completions, but understand it is not a game where (I will) be able to hold it for too long back there."
This is not the first time this season Beatty has faced one of the NFL's finest defensive ends. On Sept. 21, his assignment was to block Houston's J.J. Watt, who has played so well he's the rare defensive player included in conversations about potential NFL MVPs. Watt had seven tackles (five solo), including a sack, and a pass defensed, but he was not the disruptive force he has been in so many other games.
"That was my first real test of a guy that's coming off a great year," Beatty said. "He alone can destroy a team's rhythm and momentum and you've seen it done. He plays with a lot of energy, plays hard, is agile and can move a lot."
Quinn has10.5 sacks this season – all in the last nine games – and 40.0 in the least three years. Beatty said Quinn has many of the same attributes as Watt.
"If you don't go in a game knowing that you're going up against this guy, he will make you look bad," Beatty said. "They're a little different. I can't tell you too much. They're two different players. It's that desire. You're watching them go until the end. You're watching them chase down a play. You think he's out of it and then he comes back into the screen. It's the guys that do it play after play. It's the guys that keep coming after you, no matter what the circumstances are, that are these great players, because they're not giving up. When you slip, they capitalize on it. I'm going to test him, because that's my mentality."
Long suffered a foot and ankle injury in the season opener and missed 10 games. He returned to face Oakland on Nov. 30, and in the three games since he's been back, the Rams have not allowed a touchdown.
"He's a great player," said right tackle Justin Pugh, who will be lined up opposite Long. "He was a second overall pick when he came out, so he's definitely a guy that can make plays. I've got to go out there and play tough and give Eli time and open up holes for the running backs."
Long was equally complimentary when asked about Pugh.
Know your opponent for the Giants Week 16 matchup vs. the St. Louis Rams
"He has done a nice job over there," Long said. "He is a guy that will stay after you. He's a tenacious dude. For a young guy, he has picked it up pretty well. He's got a good group around him. It helps having a guy like Eli Manning and Will Beatty on the other side. … He is learning and he's got the tools necessary to be a good right tackle in the league."
Donald is a rugged run-stopper who is also second on the team with 8.0 sacks.
"In today's NFL, you've got a lot of rookies coming in and dominating," Jerry said. "A lot of other positions get all the hype about rookies coming in and doing stuff, but it's amazing to see a young guy come in, in the interior of a defensive line with what he's able to do. He's very quick, very strong, long arms. I'm definitely going to have to pay attention to that guy and definitely have to know where he's lined up."
It's a cliché to say the offensive line must play well for the Giants to have a chance to win. But it is very true this week.
"If you lose the line of scrimmage, you basically lose the game," Jerry said. "It's definitely one of those games where we don't want to sit back there and throw the ball all game, because we know rushing the passer is what they do the best. So we've got to try to take that away from them."
"Obviously, they present their obstacles," Pugh said. "But I think this week is going to be a huge test for us. If the offensive line plays well, we should be all right."