EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Justin Houston of the Kansas City Chiefs leads the NFL with 7.5 sacks, three more than any other player in the league. Today, he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after posting a career-high 4.5 sacks with seven tackles, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in the Chiefs' 26-16 victory last week in Philadelphia. It was the second time in three weeks he won the award.
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Well, not solely. But as the Giants' right tackle, the rookie from Syracuse will largely be responsible for blocking Houston, the third-year pro who is the left outside linebacker in the Kansas City Chiefs' 3-4 scheme. The teams meet Sunday in Arrowhead Stadium.
"He's similar to the guy I went against last week (Carolina's Charles Johnson), very physical player,' Pugh said. "He's got a good motor, so it's a good challenge for me. I'm going out there and practicing. We've got some good guys playing defensive end here, so they definitely give me good looks.
The Chiefs lead the NFL with 15 sacks. Under new coordinator Bob Sutton, they have an unpredictable defense that uses numerous personnel groupings and looks to confuse opposing offenses.
Pugh said he will be ready.
"I think it was great in the preseason playing against the Jets who have a similar defense," said Pugh, who started each of the first three games. "When we played them we knew they probably gave us the most multiple look we were going to see all year. I remember them saying when we were down on the field, (Chris) Snee and some of the older guys, so that was definitely good to go back, maybe look at that film and go from there."
Last week, Eli Manning was sacked seven times in the Giants' loss at Carolina. On Sunday, the Giants might have to face the charging Chiefs with an offensive line missing some key components. Center David Baas (neck) and Snee (hip) did not practice today. But David Diehl practiced for the first time since undergoing thumb surgery on Aug. 21.
"We have to go out there and play, no matter who's out there, you have to go out there, execute and communicate," Pugh said. "I think that's going to be the biggest thing, communicating, whoever's out there just making sure we're on the same page. Obviously, getting Dave Diehl out there today was huge. He's a very verbal guy, it helps us out a lot out there."
Against the Chiefs, the Giants' O-line will take any help it can get.
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Terrell Thomas will cut back on his practice reps and could miss some days completely so his twice surgically-repaired right knee isn't overtaxed.
"Looking forward to the season, not looking ahead, but just being smart with my knee and me being out there, you just want to be smart and kind of save yourself when you can," Thomas said. "It's a part of the recovery process. It held strong. I practiced today. I felt good. I've just been a little bit precautious taking care of the knee. Got to be smart; getting ahead of the pain more than anything."
Coach Tom Coughlin today said Thomas "needs to be managed and probably one day a week or at some point in time we'll have to cut the reps back for him so he has decent recovery time." The coach said no specific incident prompted Thomas' new practice schedule. "The accumulation has gotten to him a little bit," Coughlin said.
Thomas and Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis are the only NFL players to return to the field after under three surgeries to repair torn ACLs. Thomas is mindful the schedule is condensed after the Kansas City game. The Giants return home to face Philadelphia before traveling to Chicago for a Thursday night game. Davis did not play in Carolina's Thursday night game last year, coincidentally against the Giants.
Thomas wants to play every game, which will likely require cutting back at practice.
"It's new to me," Thomas said. "I love to practice. I love to work on my craft and fix the things that I need to work on that I didn't fix in the game. But whatever the coaches tell me to do I'm going to do."
- Five Giants did not practice today. In addition to Baas and Snee, the others were cornerback Corey Webster (hip), linebacker Jacquian Williams (knee) and tight end Adrien Robinson (foot).
Coughlin said he does not know if Baas and Snee will be able to play on Sunday.
"It's a day-to-day thing," Coughlin said. "Let's find out. Today they're out, they're not going to practice."
Coughlin said Webster "feels better" and Williams should practice tomorrow.
Regarding Diehl, Coughlin said, "We're just trying to see how far we can go with him. It's his first day back from a very long time away from the game."
Diehl was one of four players who were limited in practice, Thomas (knee), linebacker Spencer Paysinger (hip) and safety Cooper Taylor (shoulder).