NINE GIANTS ADDED TO COVID LIST
Eight Giants players have tested positive since Monday: wide receivers Kadarius Toney and John Ross, linebackers Cam Brown and Oshane Ximines, and defensive backs Aaron Robinson, Adoree' Jackson and J.R. Reed, along with practice squad S Natrell Jamerson. In addition, safety Xavier McKinney is a high-risk close contact. All nine players have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Ross, Robinson, Brown, McKinney and Reed played Sunday in Los Angeles against the Chargers. Toney, Jackson and Ximines were inactive, while Jamerson was not elevated to the active roster.
Coach Joe Judge would not disclose which of the players are vaccinated. The NFL changed its COVID protocols this week, so all six players that tested positive, IF vaccinated, could potentially clear the protocols in time for Sunday's game.
As a close contact, if McKinney continues to test negative, he will be allowed to return to the Giants facility on Saturday and would be able to play on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys in MetLife Stadium.
All the affected players had been participating in meetings remotely since being added to the list. On Friday, the Giants decided to switch all meetings to a remote format out of an abundance of caution.
Sunday will be the 120th meeting between the Giants and Cowboys, dating back to 1960 when the first meeting resulted in a 31-31 tie. The Cowboys won the most recent matchup between the two division rivals, 44-20, in Week 5. Last season, the Giants got the best of Dallas in Week 17 when Daniel Jones threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns, Sterling Shepard finished with eight receptions for 112 yards and a score and Xavier McKinney sealed the win with a late interception of QB Andy Dalton. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Cowboys.
Out: QB Daniel Jones (Neck)
Doubtful: G Ben Bredeson (Ankle)
Questionable: DL Austin Johnson (Foot), WR Sterling Shepard (Calf), DL Leonard Williams (Triceps)
Out: OT Tyron Smith (Ankle)
Questionable: RB Tony Pollard (Foot)
Head coach Joe Judge announced Wednesday that Daniel Jones (neck) still has not been cleared for contact, and that the plan is for Mike Glennon to start (his third game in a row) against the Cowboys.
"Mike is going to start the game for us. This isn't being coy or anything," Judge said. "Every player who's at the game can play and we have plans for every player within a role of what they would do. Do we have anything bracketed out at this point in terms of is he going to play certain plays or anything? We do not. We do not, so we're getting Mike ready to play the game, but (third-string QB Jake [Fromm] will also be getting ready and prepare to play the game."
Dallas enters this game with mixed results in their pass defense. Their 250.8 passing yards allowed ranks 23rd, while their 18 passing touchdowns surrendered is tied for the sixth-best mark. Meanwhile the Cowboys' 20 interceptions is the most in the NFL, led by Trevon Diggs' league-high nine.
KEEP THE RUN GAME GOING
The Giants' 135 rushing yards vs. the Chargers was the highest rushing total they've had over the past four weeks, and just the third time they've topped 100 since Week 3. It was the team's third-highest rushing total of the season.
Saquon Barkley carried the ball 16 times for a season-high 64 yards, adding three receptions for 31 yards and a receiving touchdown. His 95 total yards from scrimmage was his second-highest yardage total this year. Booker gained 56 yards on just eight carries with another 28 yards coming on four receptions. The two combined to average 5.0 yards per carry against the Chargers.
The Cowboys' 110.2 rushing yards allowed per game ranks 15th, and they are tied for 16th with 12 rushing scores surrendered. The unit also comes in at No. 24 with 4.5 yards allowed per carry.
View photos from practice as the Giants prepare for their NFC East matchup against the Cowboys.
SLOWING DOWN PARSONS, LAWRENCE
Micah Parsons has taken the NFL by storm in recent weeks. After registering just 2.5 sacks in his first seven games, the rookie linebacker has become a force in the Dallas pass rush, picking up at least one sack in each of his last six games. During that span, Parsons has a total of 9.5 sacks 10 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits while forcing three fumbles. His 12 sacks on the year ranks seventh in the league.
"This guy coming out of college, we knew he was going to be an impact player," Judge said. "We had a lot of love for this guy in the building, a lot of respect for him. We knew he was going to be a good player. They're using him in different spots right now. (Cowboys Defensive Coordinator) Dan (Quinn) is doing a really good job of matching him up and letting him play with his pass rush skillset, playing coverage with speed. He's become a factor in a lot of different areas.
"You've got to know where he is on the field. They're moving him around, they're definitely doing a lot of things to help his skillset or use his skillset to help the defense. This guy is a phenomenal player."
In addition to Parsons, the Cowboys' pass rush recently got back its other dominant edge rusher in the form of DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence suffered a foot injury in the season opener, which forced him to miss the next 10 games. Since returning in Week 13, the veteran defensive end has one sack, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and two passes defended.
Los Angeles recorded two sacks and seven quarterback hits against the Giants' Mike Glennon last week.
CONVERTING ON THIRD DOWN
The Giants rank 23rd in the league with a 37.5 conversion percentage. In last week's loss to the Chargers, the offense put together one of its better performances, converting on seven of 14 attempts.
Dallas is holding opponents to a league-low 30.9 percent on third down. The numbers get even better over their last five games. Since Week 10, in which the Cowboys have gone 3-2, the defense has limited opponents to a mere 25 percent conversion rate.
GET PRESSURE ON DAK
Big Blue ranks 25th in the league with 25 sacks. Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence racked up a sack and three quarterback hits against the Chargers, which helped him earn an 80.3 overall grade, including a 74.4 pass rush grade. The Giants' other sack came from rookie linebacker Azeez Ojulari. Ojulari has a team-high 7.5 sacks, third among NFL rookies behind Parsons and Miami's Jaelan Phillips (8.5).
In last week's win over Washington, the Cowboys allowed four sacks of quarterback Dak Prescott. It was the second time in four weeks that Dallas allowed at least four sacks, as they allowed five sacks against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11. In between those two outings, the Cowboys surrendered just one sack of Prescott in each of their Week 12 (Las Vegas Raiders) and Week 13 (New Orleans Saints) games.
View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
CONTAINING COWBOYS' PLAYMAKERS
Ezekiel Elliott leads the Cowboys with 810 yards and eight touchdowns on 185 carries (4.4 avg.). Tony Pollard is averaging an impressive 5.6 yards on 107 carries, totaling 602 yards and two touchdowns. The pair of backs have also combined for 72 receptions for 504 yards and a score.
"Talking about their offense, obviously you start with the running game with these guys," Judge said. "They've got a very, very talented offensive line that gives them a lot of freedom to run the ball and a lot of freedom to sit back there and have good shots down the field with good protection. You've got to do a good job stopping the run.
"You have to eliminate explosive plays on this team. You have to do a good job tackling in space, whether it's the checkdowns, whether it's the deep shots down the field, whether it's the run game. You have to do a good job eliminating the yards after catch or the yards after contact with the run game.
In the pass game, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb leads the way with 64 receptions for 890 yards and six touchdowns. Lining up opposite Lamb is Amari Cooper, whose 675 receiving yards on 51 receptions rank second on the team, while his six receiving touchdowns is tied with Lamb for the team lead. Third receiver Michael Gallup has at least five catches in each of the last four games, with a minimum of eight targets each game during that span. Not to be forgotten is tight end Dalton Schultz, who ranks second on the team with 53 receptions, totaling 584 yards and four touchdowns.
The Giants allowed Austin Ekeler and Co. to combine for 135 yards on the ground last week. In the pass game, Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton and Josh Palmer combined for 14 receptions for 214 yards and two touchdowns.
WHO STEPS UP IN SECONDARY?
With Adoree' Jackson and Aaron Robinson testing positive for COVID-19, the Giants could be without two of their key cornerbacks against the Cowboys on Sunday. Jackson has missed the last two games with a quad injury, while Robinson served as his replacement in the starting lineup. If neither one is able to suit up this weekend, the starting role will likely fall into the hands of Jarren Williams.
Williams made his season debut just two weeks ago in Miami and has played a total of 48 defensive snaps spanning the two games. He also played in two games for the Giants last year as a rookie free agent. In last week's game in Los Angeles, Williams finished with four tackles (two solo), while earning a strong 79.4 tackling grade and solid 68.1 run defense grade from PFF.
"He's a young player," Judge said. "He's definitely still developing. Jarren plays with the right mentality. He's a physical player. He's got a good skill set in terms of speed, burst, and good short-area quickness. He's definitely still learning the craft."
"He just has that chip on his shoulder," said cornerback James Bradberry. "He's a small school guy (University at Albany). He's eager to get out there and make a play. I think this would be his second start (actually, his first). So, he's definitely ready to get out there and go play. I think just having that chip on his shoulder, that eagerness to go out there, that helps out a lot with just making plays, just calming those nerves."