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Offense looks to build on fourth quarter rally


The Giants offense is hoping to return to the explosive unit that was seen in the fourth quarter last Sunday:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.– Continuity is sometimes rare in the NFL, but the Giants' offense hopes to carry over what it did in the fourth quarter last Sunday in Philadelphia all way to Tampa Bay.

After 45 scoreless minutes, the Giants erupted for 24 points in the final quarter. That was 11 more points than they had scored in the season's first 11 quarters combined. It wasn't enough to prevent a last-second 27-24 defeat. But the quarter's first four possessions were easily the offense's most impressive of the young season. Can the Giants continue that productivity against the Buccaneers?

"We certainly hope so," offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said today. "Anytime you can score 24 points in a quarter, if we can average that for four quarters, that's a little different game. No doubt. That would be very good to build upon that. We just have to do a better job of finishing drives. It starts with being able to protect the football and getting into some of that rhythm and consistency, and all of the things we keep talking about."

There's no arguing with Sullivan – 24 points for four quarters would be 96, which certainly would be a different game. But the Giants will fly to Florida with more modest goals, like improving their rushing attack, avoiding turnovers, and continuing the high level of play they exhibited in the fourth quarter in Philly – and even before that, according to Sullivan.

"If you're looking at those first three quarters, we actually did have some movement, we actually did have some consistency," he said. "There are no moral victories whatsoever. We did not win the game, we did not do enough. Let me be clear about that. But early on, you look at the interceptions that happened early in the series and then others this year where we did have some consistency, we did put ourselves in position to put points on the board. So I wouldn't necessarily say those first three quarters we didn't have rhythm. It certainly didn't feel like those first two games. It was just more of a matter of having to be in too big of a hurry with our tempo calls, and hurrying ourselves with a penalty or having the turnovers.

"That was a unique game, given that opponent and how we felt we could best matchup, but certainly I think the big thing we draw from that, that we have talked about is, we're having a rough season, a difficult season offensively and we are down 14-0 and we had some setbacks. Yet, that group had the grit, and the resolve, and the determination to keep playing and keep believing in one another. … Again, we came up short, we did not do enough to win, period. But the competitiveness and the character that we showed is certainly something we hope to build upon."

*Tuesday night, team president John Mara and linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas were the Giants' representatives at a meeting at NFL headquarters in Manhattan to discuss last weekend's player protests during the national anthem and what might occur in the future. Approximately 20-25 players, owners and league officials, including commissioner Roger Goodell, attended the meeting.

Last night, a group of Giants players met with Mara. Casillas said Mara asked the players to stand during the national anthem, but said he would understand if they chose not to. "You can't ask for more than that," Casillas said.

Last Sunday in Philadelphia, Landon Collins, Damon Harrison, and Olivier Vernon dropped to one knee while the anthem was sung before the Giants-Eagles game. Similar protests – including three instances in which entire teams stayed in their respective locker rooms until after the anthem was played – took place around the league.

"We basically talked about the anthem," Casillas said of the NFL meeting, "the kneeling that happened this past weekend and how we did show solidarity basically against (President) Trump's statement and what we're going to do moving forward. There was nothing ironed out. There was just a whole bunch of opinions being thrown out. I liked it, because you got to see the opinions from the owners, and you got to see some of the opinions from the players as well."

Casillas would like fans to look beyond the protests and focus more on what the players do in their communities.

"I don't think kneeling is conducive for us as players, for the league, because it's been totally misconstrued," he said. "And it hasn't just happened this past weekend, it's been going on since Kaepernick did it last August. So maybe we've got to figure something else out, another way to maybe get across the reason why the protest happened from the beginning, which is because of social injustices that have been happening to minorities since the beginning of time."

"The talks that I've had, it's like, alright, maybe we shouldn't focus on the flag and the kneeling. But focus on actually what this shield represents, what the NFL shield represents. There is at least 90% of guys in this locker room that have done community service work, food drives and give to whatever – charities, foundations. About 90% of the guys do stuff like that on a consistent basis. And that really doesn't get that much light. We all have hearts and we all try to show it. Some people are bad, some people are good. But at the end of the day, the majority of us, we always try to do the right thing and we're always trying to support the right cause."

*Guard Brett Jones (hip) was the only newcomer among the five Giants who did not practice today. "Brett's feeling some tightness in his lower body and we are just evaluating and seeing where he is right now," coach Ben McAdoo said.

The other players who didn't practice were defensive end Olivier Vernon (ankle), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (ankle/wrist), and running backs Orleans Darkwa (back) and Shane Vereen (calf).

Vernon said his ankle is "coming along great." Asked if he is optimistic about playing Sunday, he said, "I always try to stay positive. So just trying to take it day by day." Vernon has never missed a game in his six NFL seasons, playing in 84 in a row (including one postseason game). He has started 52 consecutive games for the Miami Dolphins and the Giants.

Tackle Bobby Hart (ankle), who didn't practice yesterday, worked on a limited basis today. Linebacker B.J. Goodson (shin) was also limited.

View the best images from Wednesday's pracitce

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