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Red Zone offense is team focus in return from bye week

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Bye week in the NFL is for reflection and rest.


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Before the Giants could get to the latter, they self-scouted the first 10 games that put the team at 5-5 and in the driver's seat of the NFC East race. In the research, the staff found that one of the areas that needs work is the red zone, or the "green" zone as Tom Coughlin calls it.

"Tremendous amount of time spent on it and a tremendous amount of thoughts based on it," the head coach said after Monday's practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. "Not only on the offensive side, but on the defensive side, as well. The way we research ourselves is to look at what we call 'worst to best' and that's where all our attention goes and that's where our time is spent.

"When the players return, they get the benefit of not only the visual by the tape but the numbers and all the things that go with it. But it's also for the coaches, not just for the players. Yeah, we jump hard into that."

Heading into the break, the Giants converted 44.4 percent of their red-zone trips into touchdowns, which is tied with the Broncos for 25th in the league. The ranking goes up to 15th when field goals are included as the Giants put up points 86.1 percent of the time.  

Quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan was asked last week about how to improve those numbers.

"That's a great, great question," he said.

He later added: "[The] bottom line is we've got to take a look at that and certainly those areas where Eli [Manning] feels most comfortable and where he's had the most number of practice reps and he can anticipate things and react and adjust. Because he adjusts so much in this offense, that's really where we're going to need to focus our efforts for the rest of the season."

Defensively, the Giants are 13th in red-zone touchdown efficiency at 53.1 percent. They are 24th in overall red-zone scoring efficiency at 84.4 percent.

Producing in the red zone was just one of the many topics as the Giants enter the home stretch of the season. Here are the main takeaways from the day:

NICKS JUMPS INTO PRACTICE

They have a new system, but the Giants hope they have the same old Hakeem Nicks. The wide receiver, who ranks ninth on the franchise's receptions and receiving yards lists, returned to the Giants over the bye week and hopes to jump back into action as soon as this Sunday in Washington.

"I came in last week and got a head start, but whatever they need me to do, I'm sure they'll sprinkle me in and get acclimated," Nicks said. "But whatever the coaches need me to do, whatever they need me here to be, that's what I will be."
While spending the summer with the Titans, Nicks has not played since the 2014 AFC Championship Game with the Colts. And now he's anxious for the opportunity to compete again.

"I'll be point blank with you, Hakeem was the best player out there for right now, for the circumstances," Coughlin said. "Matter of fact, he was someone who we figured was in the sights of other clubs. Certainly he's been a Giant before, it's a different system. But we know the player, we know the young man and, quite frankly, he was, in our opinion, the best player out there.

'VERY FRESH' PRINCE IS BACK

In addition to tight end Larry Donnell and linebackers Uani 'Unga and J.T. Thomas III, cornerback Prince Amukamara returned to practice on Monday before the team gets back in action on Sunday against the Redskins. Amukamara missed the last five games with a pectoral injury but said today that he is "100 percent" and his legs are "very fresh."

"I worked out this whole bye, so I feel like I didn't miss a beat," Amukamara said. "And I didn't feel out of wind today with this practice. It was good."

TWO OL SIT OUT; MOORE TOO

The Giants practiced without two of their starting offensive linemen today. Left guard Justin Pugh is going through the concussion protocol, and center Weston Richburg is dealing with an ankle that he injured in the Patriots game.

"I'd like to be back as soon as possible," Richburg said. "The sooner I get this thing moving, the better."

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Damontre Moore is "working his way through a hamstring," according to Coughlin.

Photos from Monday's Giants Practice

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