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Players to Watch: Dexter Lawrence 'in a good spot'


The Giants are heading overseas for a matchup against the Green Bay Packers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

The trip will be the franchise's third international game since they took part in the first one in 2007, when they defeated the Miami Dolphins, 13-10, at Wembley Stadium. They returned to London nine years later and beat the Los Angeles Rams, 17-10.

The Giants and Packers (both 3-1) are coming off wins, as Big Blue defeated the Chicago Bears, 20-12, last week while the Packers beat the Patriots in overtime, 27-24. The combined winning percentage of .750 between the Giants and Packers is the highest in an international game in Week 4 or later.

Here are five players to watch in the Week 5 matchup:

RB Saquon Barkley

Simply put, Saquon Barkley has been outstanding to start the season. The 25-year-old leads the NFL with 463 rushing yards on 84 carries, good for an average of 5.5 yards per carry and 115.8 yards per game. He has added 15 receptions for 107 yards, helping him also lead the league in total yards from scrimmage with 570 (74 yards more than the next player). Barkley is the only player in the league with three games of 125+ scrimmage yards this season. His 463 yards on the ground through four games has also set a new franchise record, besting Tiki Barber's mark of 455 yards in 2004. Entering Week 5, the talented back has more rushing yards alone than 21 teams across the league.

The Giants enter this matchup with the No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL with an average of 192.5 rushing yards per game. This is the franchise's highest rushing yard average through four games since 1956 (207.3 yards per game). Meanwhile, the Packers rank in the bottom-third of the league in rushing yards allowed per game (126.8) and per attempt (5.0). Three of four opponents have topped 125 yards on the ground against Green Bay, including two games of 165+ rushing yards. In his only career game against the Packers, Barkley finished with 115 total yards from scrimmage with an average of 4.4 yards per carry.

View photos from practice as the Giants gear up for their Week 5 matchup against the Packers in London.

TE Daniel Bellinger

Daniel Bellinger has quietly put together a solid start to his career. After going without a target in his NFL debut, the rookie tight end has had three consecutive performances in which he's made an impact. His only reception in Week 2 went for 16 yards and a touchdown. He then reeled in four receptions for 40 yards against the Cowboys, both of which ranked second on the team, before he caught three passes for 23 yards last week, which were the highest among the pass-catchers.

Bellinger has earned a 72.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus this season, which ranks eighth among the league's tight ends and No. 1 in the rookie class. He has a tough matchup this week though, as the Packers head into Week 5 having shut down tight ends this season. In the first four games, opposing tight ends have combined for just 13 receptions for 114 yards. The highest tight end output against Green Bay came in Week 3, when Cameron Brate caught five receptions for 52 yards.

"I think those guys have made steady improvements," Daboll said Monday about Bellinger, Tanner Hudson and Chris Myarick. "I think Coach (Andy) Bischoff has done a really good job with those guys. They're smart. They're tough. They're dependable... These guys have been working their tails off since they're been here. I think they're earning the trust of the coaches to put them out on the field more."

DL Dexter Lawrence

Dexter Lawrence is coming off perhaps the best game of his young NFL career. Going up against the Bears, Lawrence registered two sacks, three quarterback hits, five total tackles and eight total pressures. This performance earned him an outstanding 92.7 overall grade, including an elite 93.8 pass rush grade. With fellow defensive lineman Leonard Williams out for Week 4 with a knee injury, Lawrence played an impressive 58 total snaps, coming off the field for only four plays.

Serving as a team captain for the first time, Lawrence has looked strong all season. His 90.0 overall grade on the year ranks third at his position, while his 90.8 pass rush mark is the highest. The 24-year-old lineman already has seven quarterback hits in 2022, only four short of his career-high of 11 from last year. He is also already halfway to his career-best mark of four sacks set in 2020, while also picking up his third career forced fumble.

"I'd always say first and foremost, you give credit to the player. Much like Saquon I would say, since I've been here, he has bought into what we're doing," Daboll said this week about Lawrence. "He's been great in the building. He's been great outside the building. He's a leader for us. He's a talented player. And I think that Coach (Andre) Patterson, Coach (Bryan) Cox, Wink (Martindale), they've done a great job with him and trying to use his strengths as his strengths. But I give most of the credit to Dexter; I think he's in a good spot. I've seen improvement from him since we've been here. But he's a talented player. I'm glad he's on our team."

"The biggest thing is you need to have a center piece of your defense and he wears that badge with pride," Martindale said about Lawrence. "We move him around more than what people really realize, and he's done a really nice job. The biggest thing about Dex is he's so selfless. He's just as excited for someone else to have success as he is himself. When guys start playing that way, when they start playing for each other like he has, you'll see good things come from him."

Lawrence will likely see some action against Packers guard Jon Runyan on Sunday. Runyan has been one of the top pass blocking guards in the NFL this season. He ranks sixth at the position with an 81.2 grade on 121 pass block snaps, as he has not surrendered a single sack or pressure through four games.

View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.

ILB Jaylon Smith

Jaylon Smith made his 2022 Giants debut at MetLife Stadium last week and immediately made his presence felt. After being signed to the active roster prior to the game, Smith played on 50 percent of the team's defensive snaps. The veteran linebacker totaled six tackles (five solo) and one tackle for loss on those 31 snaps. He earned an 83.8 overall grade for his performance, which ranks fifth among all linebackers for the season, and also picked up 80.8 tackling and 78.0 coverage grades (the coverage grade ranks ninth among LBs).

"He's very detailed," Tae Crowder said Monday about the veteran linebacker. "He came in with great energy. Being at home, you can see that he obviously wanted to get back into football. Just the energy he brings, coming back and wanting to be great and wanting to do things right. It showed at the game."

Smith will be tasked with helping the defense limit Green Bay's talented running back duo. The Packers enter this matchup averaging 145.0 rushing yards per game, the seventh-best mark in the NFL. Aaron Jones leads the team with 327 rushing yards on 48 carries (6.8 avg.), while AJ Dillon is not far behind with 211 yards on 57 carries. Both backs have scored a touchdown on the ground, while they have also combined for 21 receptions for 150 yards. Jones ranks fifth among running backs with a 79.0 overall grade.

CB Fabian Moreau

The Giants signed Fabian Moreau to the practice squad a month ago. After elevating the veteran in Weeks 2 and 3, the Giants signed Moreau to the active roster last week due to his strong play. In three games, the 28-year-old cornerback has allowed just four receptions for 56 yards on eight total targets. His play has earned him a 76.8 overall grade and 77.5 coverage grade, both of which rank 11th among all cornerbacks.

Aaron Robinson (knee) was placed on injured reserve earlier this week while Cor'Dale Flott (calf) has yet to practice since suffering an injury in Week 3. This has led to a bigger role for Moreau on the outside opposite Adoree' Jackson, and the two will have to bring their A-game this week against Aaron Rodgers. The back-to-back reigning MVP has had three consecutive games with 230+ passing yards and two touchdowns. While the Packers no longer have stud wide receiver Devante Adams, the duo of Romeo Dubbs (19 receptions for 184 yards and two TDs) and Allen Lazard (12 receptions for 174 yards and two TDs) presents a challenge for the Giants secondary.

View photos from the New York Giants' first three regular-season trips to Europe.