COVID'S EFFECT ON GAME
The Giants have been dealing with COVID cases over the last 10 days, with eight players being placed on reserve recently due to the virus. Coach Joe Judge announced that three players were cleared and would be re-joining the team on Thursday: wide receiver Kadarius Toney, defensive back J.R. Reed and linebacker Oshane Ximines. Additionally, linebacker Cam Brown and cornerback Aaron Robinson were activated off the COVID list on Saturday.
For the Eagles, four players currently reside on the COVID list. Backup tackle Andre Dillard and swing tackle Le'Raven Clark were both placed on the COVID list this week. Joining them on the list are defensive end Ryan Kerrigan and linebacker Shaun Bradley. Starting left guard Landon Dickerson was placed on the COVID list earlier this week, but was activated on Saturday. Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni also tested positive on Wednesday. After some uncertainty surrounded his potential return for Sunday's game, Sirianni was cleared on Saturday and will be on the sidelines for the matchup against the Giants. Passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo was ready to take over the head coach's duties on Sunday if needed.
"Hopefully, I'll be ready to go on Sunday," Sirianni told Eagles beat reporters from a hotel room during his virtual Wednesday press conference. "If not, we've been prepared for this. I'm very confident in what we did as far as getting ahead of everything last week, the last couple of weeks, as far as being separated, putting ourselves almost in protocol as it was with the extra precautions that we took. We'll see what the numbers say ... everything up until gameday will be very normal except that I'm not in the building. But I'll be running everything the same way because I'm the head coach. As far as Sunday goes, we'll play that by ear and see how it goes."
Sunday will mark the 178th all-time meeting between the division rivals, with Philadelphia holding a slight 88-87-2 lead over the Giants. The Giants picked up the victory over the Eagles in the first meeting between the two teams this season, earning the 13-7 win at MetLife Stadium. The victory made it two consecutive wins for the Giants over their NFC East rival, which snapped an eight-game win streak for Philly in the series. The Giants have not won at Lincoln Financial Field since 2013.
Out: OL Ben Bredeson (Ankle), RB Gary Brightwell (Neck), WR Collin Johnson (Hamstring)
Questionable: DL Austin Johnson (Foot), DB J.R. Reed (COVID Ramp Up), WR Kadarius Toney (Oblique/COVID Ramp Up), LB Oshane Ximines (COVID Ramp Up)
DANIEL JONES DONE FOR SEASON
After missing the previous three games due to a neck injury suffered during the Week 12 matchup against the Eagles, Daniel Jones was officially placed on injured reserve Monday, thus ending his third NFL season.
"Over the course of the past few weeks, Daniel has been examined by Dr. Frank Cammisa of Hospital for Special Surgery and Dr. Robert Watkins of the Marina Spine Center at Marina Del Rey Hospital," said Ronnie Barnes, the Giants' senior vice president of medical services. "Our medical team has continued to consult with Dr. Cammisa and Dr. Watkins regarding Daniel's condition and symptoms, and at this point, Daniel has not been cleared for contact. We felt the prudent decision was to place Daniel on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. With continued rest and treatment, we expect a full recovery."
Jones made 11 starts for the Giants this season. He finished with a career-best 64.3 completion percentage to go with 2,428 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also added 298 rushing yards on 62 attempts (4.8 avg.) and two touchdowns on the ground, in addition to one spectacular one-handed catch for 16 yards.
Despite the quarterback's season coming to an early end, Judge and Jones said the injury is not a long-term concern.
"I've been adamant in saying that with all the information we've been given from the doctors involved and the medical team that there is no, at this moment, concern for a long-term injury," Judge said. "This is more of a precautionary measure to make sure it's something that isn't aggravated or agitated before it's healed and it doesn't turn into something as chronic or long-term. … At this time, our concern is on Daniel's health. He's been doing a good job. He's out there moving very functionally, but ultimately this is about making sure that his neck has a full recovery before we put him out there before he's cleared for contact."
NEXT MAN UP AT QB
The Giants will have a decision to make in regards to who starts under center in the final three games. Since Jones' injury, Mike Glennon has made the past three starts at quarterback. In those contests, Glennon has completed 51 percent of his passes for 477 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions. The veteran also added a rushing touchdown.
Judge said Wednesday that a quarterback decision would not be made until later in the week. Jake Fromm saw his first NFL action late in last week's loss to the Cowboys. Fromm completed six of 12 passes for 82 yards, including a 36-yard pass down the sideline to Kenny Golladay.
KEEP ESTABLISHING THE RUN
The Giants have rushed for over 100 yards in back-to-back games. One week after Saquon Barkley and Devontae Booker combined for 120 yards on the ground in Los Angeles, the running back tandem totaled 124 rushing yards against the Cowboys, with Booker picking up 74 of the yards on eight carries.
Establishing the run early against the Eagles on Sunday should benefit the offense, regardless of who's under center. While Philadelphia enters this matchup allowing the 10th-fewest rushing yards per game, limiting each of their last three opponents to 70 yards or fewer on the ground (including the Giants in Week 12), the defense has been susceptible to rushing touchdowns. Philadelphia's run defense has allowed its opponent to rush for over 100 yards eight times this year.
ANDREW THOMAS' GROWTH
One of the biggest bright spots in the Giants' offense this season has been the performance of second-year left tackle Andrew Thomas.
"I'm doing everything I can as far as a rehab standpoint with the trainers and doing everything I can just to be my best on Sundays," Thomas said this week of battling some nagging injuries. "For the rest of the season, just trying to continue to build every week. There are things that I go back and watch and things I want to correct, so just doing the best I can in practice to correct those things."
Thomas has been the Giants' most consistent offensive linemen this season. Through last Sunday's games, he was one of two Giants to be selected to PFF's Team of the Week following his performance against the Cowboys. Thomas received an 83.7 overall grade against Dallas' talented pass rush, including an 88.9 pass block grade, one of the highest pass block grades of the week, and a 76.0 run block grade. His 81.9 pass block grade for the season ranks ninth among NFL offensive tackles.
JAYLON SMITH STEPPING UP ON D
With all of the roster turnover recently due to injuries and COVID-19, new linebacker Jaylon Smith stepped into a big role on defense last week. Smith was signed to the practice squad last Friday and to the active roster the following day. He played 17 snaps against Dallas and registered four tackles (three solo). PFF gave the veteran a 73.7 overall grade for his performance, one of the highest on the defense, including a 79.4 coverage grade. He was signed to the active roster this week.
"Just the conversations you have with him, he knows football, so that's a positive there," said assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. "He's been on good teams, been around good coaches. It's been really good to have him right now. He's trying to improve, trying to learn the system, but you saw the pace out there, the physicality. He had a good play when he scraped over the top on a stretch run, just natural linebacker instincts, stuff that he can just do naturally."
"I'm a pro. I'm a pro's pro, a guy that's always going to be prepared and ready for the opportunity, so that's really what it was," Smith said Thursday. "I've been playing this game since I was seven years old, so getting in here learning the system. The coaches are doing a great job at giving me the basics and allowing me to go out and just play my game."
View photos from practice as the Giants prepare for their NFC East matchup against the Eagles.
HURTS LEADS NO. 1 RUSH ATTACK
The Eagles enter this contest with the league's No. 1 run game, averaging an incredible 165.6 rushing yards per game and tied with the Colts with a league-high 21 rushing scores. Their rushing attack is led by dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts' 130 rushing attempts is tied with Miles Sanders for the most on the team, while the quarterback leads Philadelphia with 733 yards, 5.6 yards per carry and 10 rushing scores. His 28 runs of 10+ yards this season rank fourth in the NFL.
Since Week 8, the Eagles are averaging 214.4 rushing yards per game on the ground. They have rushed for at least 175 yards in every one of those contests, a new franchise record and the first time any team has accomplished this feat since the 1985 Chicago Bears. In their Week 15 win over Washington, the Eagles ran the ball 41 times for 238 yards (5.8 avg.) and two touchdowns. While Miles Sanders led the way with 131 yards, Hurts scored both touchdowns.
"Obviously this is one of the top rushing teams," Judge said on Wednesday. "You go back through the statistics – since the 1985 Bears, really no one has run the ball more consistently through a stretch or effectively as a team. That's something that comes with note. That's their running backs, that's their quarterback. They've done a very good job of extending plays and capitalizing on opportunities."
CONTANING SMITH, GOEDERT
While the run game might be the Eagles' strength, their passing attack cannot be overlooked. Hurts has thrown for 2,731 yards, 14 touchdowns with just nine interceptions this season. While the young quarterback has done a good job of spreading the ball around this year, it is clear he has two favorite targets, starting with rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith. Smith leads Philadelphia with 53 receptions for 741 yards and four touchdowns while playing in all 14 games.
The other key weapon in Philadelphia's aerial attack is tight end Dallas Goedert. The talented tight end ranks right behind Smith in both receptions (48) and receiving yards (731), while his four receiving touchdowns is tied with the rookie receiver for the most on the team. Goedert has finished with over 100 yards in each of the last two games, totaling 13 receptions for 240 yards and two touchdowns during that span. His 88.3 overall grade from PFF ranks third among all tight ends, while his 90.4 receiving grade trails only San Francisco's George Kittlte (92.7)
"You talk about Goedert, this guy is really coming into his own, being effective as a player and definitely a weapon in this league," Judge said on Wednesday. "Smitty (Eagles Wide Receiver DeVonta Smith) being a young player, I said last time, you knew what this guy was going to be coming out. He's obviously one of the top players in the league. They use him in a lot of good ways, they create opportunities versus man-to-man with him, moving him in different places, really creating some game plan opportunities. You watch him play in the backfield, he gets isolated against linebackers at different times, so they're very creative in how they use their pieces and they're very effective with them."
View rare photos of the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.