Before Thursday's practice, coach Pat Shurmur and players spoke to the media. Here is what you need to know from the pressers:
1. The Return of Evan Engram. Tight end Evan Engram is very optimistic that he will be back on the field Monday night in his hometown of Atlanta against the Falcons. Engram missed the past three games after sustaining a knee injury in the Week 3 win against the Houston Texans. So far this week, Engram has felt good in practice.
"There's no limitations," Engram said. "They're letting me loose at practice. I'm pushing through and I'm getting my confidence back in it and everything's good right now."
With Engram being out, Shurmur has had to adjust his play-calling slightly due to the versatility the tight end brings on offense.
"Him being out the first few weeks can affect you," Shurmur said. "He's got very good speed, he has some traits that a wide out might have, so that's another guy to throw the ball to. Again, it kind of plays into if you're going to stop one guy, the other guy's got to make plays. That's not to say that the guys that filled in for Evan didn't make plays, it's just good when he's out there."
2. Countdown for McIntosh begins. The three-week timetable that the Giants have to activate rookie defensive tackle RJ McIntosh from the Active/Non-Football Illness list began this week. The 2018 fifth-round draft choice out of the University of Miami didn't participate in spring drills or training camp, and was placed on the reserve/NFI list. McIntosh began practicing this week and hopes to return by the Nov. 6 deadline.
"He's going to practice," Shurmur said. "In theory, we started his clock, which can go for I think as much as three weeks before we can activate him. He hasn't had pads on – the last time he had pads on he was in college. Let's keep that in mind. It's important that he gets out there and gets a feel for things, gets banged around a little bit, and kind of goes through some of the season – it's not the same – that you would in a training camp. That's going to be moving forward in the next three weeks that we're trying to get out of it."
3. Taking on Atlanta's defense. The Giants will look to get on track offensively against a Falcons defense that ranks 30th in total yards allowed (417.2), 29th in passing yards allowed (295.8), and 31st in points per game allowed (32.0). The defense has also let up the most passing touchdowns in the NFL with 16, which bodes well for quarterback Eli Manning.
"They're a good scheme on defense," Manning said. "They don't bring tons of pressure, but they will a little bit. So, they try to mix it up. They try to mix up their zone, their man, to keep you off balance. We just got to have plays that are good versus both of them. They're mostly a single-high team (coverage). We'll be prepared for everything. Just try to have different ways of getting the ball down the field. Different ways just to get the ball out on time, and get completions, and just try to stay out of those third-and-longs."
4. It's bigger than football for Grant Haley. Cornerback Grant Haley has had quite the journey to the NFL. Originally an undrafted free agent out of Penn State, Haley showed flashes during Giants training camp in the summer. Ultimately he was cut, but was then added to the practice squad. Now after being called up just before the Giants go back to his hometown to play the Falcons, Haley is ready for the opportunity.
"You never know when your opportunity is going to come," Haley said. "We're in Week 7, and my opportunity is now. Every single day, go in and take notes like you're playing. That's the advice I was given. That's the advice I would give to other people. Just be ready for your opportunity, taking notes, stay focused, because you never know what can happen. It can happen on a Monday it can happen on a Friday. So, just be ready and be prepared."
Haley's story goes further than on the field battles. Haley's mother, Carla, has been battling a liver disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) for the past five or six years. Haley has been doing everything he could possibly do to get his mother the help she needs.
"She was able to be put on a donor list recently because she had a heart procedure done in January," Haley said. "She had an open heart surgery. So now, she's able to do her transplant. We've been working on that, finding different donors, having people tested and stuff. It's been important to me to reach out and use my social media presence to help in any way possible. She's been my biggest supporter and fought for me through everything I've been through. For me as a son, it's only right to do that same."
5. Turning the season around one game at a time. The Giants' season didn't start the way they envisioned as they sit at 1-5 and at the bottom of the NFC East. To Shurmur, the fight is still there with there is plenty of football left in the season.
"We got one," Shurmur said. "To get the next one, and the next one, and the next one, that's the goal. Teams fight through adversity and it's in the Giants DNA to pull this thing out. I've seen it, I've studied the history of it, and I like the locker room that we've assembled. I'm impressed with the guys that we have in the locker room, and I know they're going to fight. I watched the games just like you have and coached the games – these guys fight, and these guys have enthusiasm."
"We just haven't executed, and I'll keep saying that until we do. And when we win the game, you know what I'm going to say? We executed better but we still made a lot of mistakes. Just write that down for some day, because that's what you try to do until you play the perfect game. I haven't heard any coach take the podium and say their team played the perfect game. That's the goal, and you really don't worry about the results. You just try to eliminate those execution errors and then put it out there. It's a thrill of competition, not to dread. You just go play. That's what drives players and coaches to do what we do."