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Larry Donnell and Giants TE's hoping for another primetime breakout

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Tight ends had a ball the last the time the Giants played the Redskins on a Thursday night.


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Larry Donnell caught three first-half touchdowns, Daniel Fells caught a fourth in the third quarter, and Big Blue rolled to a 45-14 victory in last season's matchup at FedEx Field.

All four of Eli Manning's passing touchdowns in that game -- he also ran for one -- came at close-range from inside the 10-yard line, an area the Giants have struggled through the first two weeks of 2015. In eight trips to the red zone, or "green" zone as coach Tom Coughlin calls it, the Giants have found the end zone just twice, which is tied with Cleveland for the worst rate in the NFL.

Furthermore, Manning lost a fumble last week when he was sacked at Atlanta's 11-yard line, preventing the Giants from tacking onto their 10-point lead late in the third quarter.  

That's when the Giants could have used Fells, who missed Week 2 with a foot injury after being a major part of the game plan in the opener against Dallas.

"I feel good," said Fells, who practiced fully on Tuesday. "I've basically had a week off, so I'm trying to get ready so we can play and go out there and win on Thursday."

Called the best blocking tight end on the team by Coughlin, Fells will also be a bonus for the offensive line, which may or may not shift depending on the status of left tackle Ereck Flowers. The rookie first-round pick did not practice today after leaving Sunday's game with an ankle injury.

"We always feel it's important to put drives together," Fells said. "The reason why we're out there is to score points. We're struggling a little bit in the green zone, and every time we have the ball in our hands, we feel

that we can score points. And now it's time for us to go out there and actually do it."

They will attempt to do so against a Washington team that ranks second in passing defense as well as No. 4 against the run. The Redskins are doing it from a combination of skill and scheme.   

"A little bit of both," Fells added. "They're got some really good players over there, but their scheme is also something that keeps you on your heels a little bit."

That was just one of the many topics surrounding the Giants in their quick turnaround before Thursday night's game. Here are three takeaways from the day:

1) CRUZ PROGRESSED, RAN ON GRASS FOR FIRST TIME

Aside from chasing his daughter around the house, Tuesday was the first time wide receiver Victor Cruz was able to run on the ground since he was shut down with a calf injury. Cruz, who has been running on an underwater treadmill, is looking to make his return after suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 6 of 2014.  

"It's pretty hard," Cruz said. "I've been patient for about 11 months now. It's been hard, man, but you know you've got to stay the course.

You're not going to do the team any good if you're out there at 60, 70 percent.You want to go out there 100 percent, being able to help this team win at the top of your ability, at the best of your ability, and that's what I want to do."

Tuesday may be a good sign for the near future.

"There's no pain in there anymore, so it's just a matter of getting the confidence back to running on it and cutting on it, things like that," Cruz said. "And then we'll go from there."

2) SLOT OPEN FOR RANDLE, DAVIS

The Giants today released wide receiver Preston Parker, who had five receptions for 43 yards on 12 targets through the first two games. That opens up more opportunities for players like rookie Geremy Davis, Dwayne Harris and even Rueben Randle, who is getting some more work inside at the slot position.

"I've been staying on the outside, so this game may present some opportunities for me to move to the slot," Randle said. "So I've been getting more reps in the slot this week. We'll see how it goes."

3) COUGHLIN: WE SHOULD BE BETTER THAN 0-2
You are what your record says you are, but that doesn't mean the Giants can't take anything away from the first two weeks. They took double-digit leads in the fourth quarter both times but just weren't able to finish.

"I really do think we should be better than 0-2, and I told them that right away on Monday afternoon," Coughlin said. "I told them I wasn't very pleased with the play as such, but I thought we could certainly be, even under these circumstances, be 2-0."

Cruz sees it as well from the sidelines.

"We're right there, man," he said. "The two games we lost were right there, we're knocking on the door, pretty much had them won. At the end, things happen, but we're right there. We've got to just come through and learn how to finish these games and finish the fourth quarter and win the fourth quarter, because that's where games are won and lost, the majority of this league is in the fourth quarter. We've just got to learn to close things out. It's still early in the season, so we'll see how it goes."

Playmakers on Washington's first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike

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