EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** The Giants' game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys in MetLife Stadium could be the first of the season to be significantly affected by the weather. Temperatures are expected to dip into the low 30s, with winds perhaps 25 miles per hour.
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Five Players to Watch on Sunday It is in that kind of weather in which the Giants have often thrived, both at home and on the road.
"I like the idea of us competing and whatever the weather is, we have to play in it," coach Tom Coughlin said today. "That's the way our approach has always been. Do the best we can and hopefully we're a team that is more familiar with some of the weather situations that occur. Normally it's after Thanksgiving, but it will be this weekend in this part of the world. The run game, the physical aspect of the game does come to the front when the weather is like that."
Andre Brown, who has become the Giants' number one running back the last two weeks, is counting on it.
"I've never played in the snow so that would be fun," said Brown, though snow isn't in the forecast. "The weather's not going to, I guess it will affect us throwing, but I just know that I'm going to go out there prepared and ready to go. No matter if it's cold or hot or warm, I'm just going to be ready to go. Hopefully, Dallas won't like it being cold. Us being used to the cold weather could be an advantage, but it is what it is."
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride was asked if he must alter his game plan or have contingencies in case the conditions preclude him from doing everything he'd like.
"You do," Gilbride said. "To the best of your ability, you'd like to say, 'Hey, this is what we think has the best chance of being successful, schematically or personnel wise.' But there's no question. You're throwing it into the teeth of the wind and the wind is blowing sideways, you have to pick your spots. Sometimes I've been in games where one half of the game you're going one way, you take a certain approach, you turn around, you come the other way, you can open it up and do a lot more things. It really depends upon the severity of the wind and what selection of routes that you're choosing. Probably going to be judicious in the amount of deep balls you're going to throw."
The wind will also likely affect the kicking game.
"That's good," special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said when apprised of the forecast. "We've got to step back up and prove ourselves that we can play in that."
The punt team struggled to do that two weeks ago in far more forgiving conditions in the Giants' victory over Oakland, when the temperature was 49 degrees and the winds blew at 14 miles-per-hour. Steve Weatherford's four punts traveled an average of just 30.5 yards. His first punt was a 51-yarder, but the next three went 36, 27 and a seven-yarder that was deflected.
"I hope he learned his lesson," Quinn said. "I think he has. He'll be ready. He's just got to deal with it."
Weatherford said there's no secret to punting well in the wind.
"Just do what we've done," Weatherford said. "When it's super windy like that, you just want to hit a good punt and you want to hit something that they can cover. You don't try to, when it's really windy like that, get too cute and try to hit balls out of bounds. I think that's maybe something the last time we played. I was trying to do too much instead of just trying to hit a clean ball."
Weatherford is not exactly obsessing about the Sunday's conditions. He said he doesn't look at forecasts and usually isn't aware of them unless coach Tom Coughlin includes it in his Saturday night address to the team.
"I've got to play in it regardless of if I know three days before," Weatherford said. "It's not going to change my preparation for the game or change the way that I approach it. So no, it doesn't change anything for me."
Kicker Josh Brown will also feel the effects of the wind. This is his first season with the Giants, so he is still learning how the wind swirls in MetLife.
"Usually, it's blowing into our tunnel," Brown said. But he also admitted "usually" is a relative term.
"It changes every 10 minutes," he said. "So far, we haven't really had to deal with a tremendous amount. We've had one game a couple weeks ago where it was heavy. But in this stadium the wind is pretty definite in a certain direction, so you either have one way where you're really, really good or one way where you're bad. Last game we had a definite wind across the field that actually switched once or twice. It usually switches for about five minutes and then turns around. The thing I've learned right now is to stick with what we know through history and I've learned that through coach Quinn and through Steve and those guys. Stick with what you know and eventually, even though there is a swirl, it will come back to that consistent breeze."
Despite that unpredictability, Brown said the wind is not as big a factor here as it is in many other stadiums.
"In this stadium the ball doesn't get pushed left or right a tremendous amount," Brown said. "If you make good contact, you're going to be fine."
QUICK HITS >>
- Cornerback Corey Webster has been declared out of the game Sunday because of groin and ankle injuries. Webster will miss his third consecutive game and seven of the last nine contests.
Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (abdomen) and running back Brandon Jacobs (knee) were limited in practice and are listed as questionable.
Four other players were limited, but are probable for the game: defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder), fullback John Conner (hip) and cornerbacks Terrell Thomas (knee) and Trumaine McBride (hip).
Three Dallas linebackers have been declared out of the game: Sean Lee (the team's leading tackler and interceptor) and Justin Durant, both with hamstring injuries, and DeVonte Holloman (neck).
- Eli Manning's four touchdown passes in the season opener increased his career total against Dallas to 36. He's also thrown 36 touchdown passes against Philadelphia, his highest total against any opponent. The 36 touchdown passes are also the most thrown by any opposing player in history against the Cowboys. Jim Hart, who played 18 of his 19-year career with the Cardinals, is second with 35 touchdown passes against Dallas.
- The Giants, FedEx and New York Cares will host their 18th annual Coat Drive this Sunday, when the Giants host the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. Fans are encouraged to bring new or gently worn coats to any of the FedEx trucks or volunteers located at each stadium entrance.
All coats collected during the drive will be donated to New York Cares, a non-profit organization that meets pressing community needs by mobilizing caring New Yorkers in volunteer service. The coats will then be distributed to men, women and children at homeless shelters, community organizations, centers for battered women and agencies serving senior citizens across the metropolitan area.