After three consecutive weeks of facing NFC West teams, the New York Giants will gear up for back-to-back road games against the co-leaders of the AFC East. First up is a trip to Miami, where the 3-1 Dolphins have the most total yards (2,044) through the first four games of a season in NFL history. Then it is onto Buffalo, where the Bills improved to 3-1 with a 48-20 victory over said Dolphins last week.
Coach Brian Daboll set the table for the short week and met with the media late Wednesday morning before the Giants began on-field preparations for the Dolphins. Here's what you need to know:
🔹Already playing without All-Pro left tackle Andrew Thomas for three weeks, the offensive line could have more shuffling to do. Rookie center John Michael Schmitz (shoulder) and guard Shane Lemieux (groin) were injured Monday night. All three of them did not participate in Wednesday's practice.
🔹Running back Saquon Barkley was limited Wednesday but managed to do some team reps for first time since suffering an ankle injury late in Week 2.
🔹Tight end Daniel Bellinger injured his knee on the same play that Schmitz did and was limited to start the week. Daboll acknowledged how it affected fellow tight end Darren Waller's usage. "Well, it depends on the personnel you are using, so some of the stuff you have Bellinger do when Waller's outside, now you have to put Waller where Bellinger is, and he has to do some of those roles and then you have to use another receiver, if you will, where Waller would be. "
🔹Right guard Marcus McKethan (knee) and right tackle Evan Neal (hand/ankle) were also limited. "I think they'll be ready to play," Daboll said.
🔹Daboll doesn't believe Schmitz's injury is a "long-term" issue. Daboll didn't completely shut the door on the second-round pick for this week, but he's not ready as of Wednesday.
🔹The Giants signed Justin Pugh to their practice squad on Tuesday, reuniting the offensive lineman with the team that selected him 19th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. Pugh worked off to the side in his first practice to get him acclimated. Is there a chance he plays on Sunday? "Probably not," Daboll said. Pugh, 33, has started 119 regular-season games at every offensive line position other than center – 73 at left guard, 38 at right tackle, seven at right guard, and one at left tackle. His two postseason starts, one apiece with the Giants and Cardinals, were both at left guard.
🔹Daboll is "leaning towards no" for Thomas this week, but they're not ready to make that determination yet.
🔹Ben Bredeson, who slid over from guard to center after Schmitz went down, is a "smart guy, knows all our calls, had a bunch of reps (at center) in the summer."
🔹Rookie cornerback Tre Hawkins III had no defensive snaps on Monday night after playing the majority in his first three games, including a start in the season opener. "It was based on who we were playing in terms of how we were matching the corners and part of the game plan. We're talking about that this week of how we want to deploy our guys, and that's probably going to be a week-to-week discussion."
🔹Running back Gary Brightwell (ankle), outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari (hamstring), and wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (knee) were limited.
🔹Ojulari didn't have any setbacks. "We're just going to limit him today."
🔹Robinson, meanwhile, played 48 snaps in his second game back from a torn ACL. "He had more reps, so we're giving him a limited snap count today."
🔹Rookie running back Eric Gray will resume his punt return duties. The fifth-round pick muffed Seattle's first punt on Monday night. Giants teammate Nick McCloud recovered the ball, but Gray was replaced for the rest of the game by veteran cornerback Adoree' Jackson. "He's caught the ball well," Daboll said when asked about Gray. "He had the one (catch) interference against San Francisco, the interference with the kick. Done a good job out here at practice. Again, some of that was their punter. He's got some unique punts, too. Saw the first one and thought that was the right thing to do for the team."
🔹Veteran wide receiver Sterling Shepard has played just 31 snaps since he re-signed with the team this offseason. They have amounted to just two catches for 10 yards. That could all change soon. "We have a bunch of personnel groups with different receivers in them. You can see there is a lot of different guys out there. Shep has them, too. They weren't called, so I'd anticipate seeing him a little bit more. How many? I don't know what that is, but I'd anticipate seeing him a little bit more."
🔹In 2017, Daboll returned to collegiate coaching for the first time in 18 years when he became the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Alabama, which finished 13-1 and earned its 17th national championship. Daboll coached future NFL quarterbacks Jalen Hurts, Mac Jones, and this week's upcoming opponent, Tua Tagovailoa. "I'm not surprised (by his success). Not surprised. I have a lot of respect for Tua and how he plays that position, some of the stuff he went through early on in his career. He's got great anticipation, he's accurate, he's a leader, and I am not surprised at all with the success he has had. He's bounced back from some tough things injury-wise, but he's a heck of a quarterback."
What does Daboll remember early on about him?
"That he's very accurate, that he's very instinctive, he's a great young man. Loves the game of football, has good leadership about him. You can see the players really respect him and how he handles himself. Again, he's very, very accurate. He throws on time, he's a heck of a player and he's a great person, too."
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