Seeing the Giants play the Eagles twice a season, we're pretty familiar with what they have at the key offensive positions. Here's an update on what their skill players have been up to lately, and check out Kulp's look at the defense here.
QB Eli Manning
The usually solid if unspectacular signal caller threw a career-high 25 interceptions last season, but also topped his best TD mark with 31. Reports are that he had a poor showing in the Giants limited camp, and his preseason was bad as well. Without Steve Smith (not that he won't be close by this weekend), Kevin Boss (gone to Oakland) and now Dominik Hixon (lost for the season) and Mario Manningham (out for week 3), Eli is somewhat lacking in familiar targets beyond Hakeem Nicks. Eli didn't have a particularly great game in either of the Giants' first two outings, although he hasn't been wholly terrible either. He threw for 268 yards in a loss to the Redskins, rushing for the only TD he was credited (oddly enough) and throwing one pick. He got off to a terrible start against the Rams in week 2, but leveled out and found a rhythm that helped the G-men sustain enough offense to get a W. Eli found Nicks on a short TD, then Hixon for a circus-like catch, both requiring great plays by his receivers. He threw one interception during his first quarter struggles, and the offense looked terrible out of the gate, which probably had the Eagles defense salivating as they watched Monday Night Football. Minus even more weapons than he started the season with and behind a line that's allowed seven sacks through two weeks, the Giants will hope Eli has more opportunities to hand off on Sunday.
WR Hakeem Nicks
The 6'1 receiver out of North Carolina is the best weapon in the Giants' arsenal, and one of the best in the league. Through two weeks, he has 11 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown, and his yards per game (80) is right on pace with last season. In four career games against the Eagles, Nicks has hauled in 20 catches for 291 yards and 2 TDs. That was before he was up against a defensive backfield that included Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in addition to Asante Samuel. He'll likely draw Nnamdi in most sets, as both usually line up on the quarterback's left.
WRs Mario Manningham and Dominik Hixon
Out with a concussion and torn ACL, respectively. The Giants' injury-plagued season from hell rolls on, and it's only September.
WRs Brandon Stokley and Victor Cruz, et al
The Giants recently signed the 35-year-old Stokley to be their slot man, after Cruz did nothing there in week 1. Stokley too was held without a catch in his first game with the team on Monday night. With Manningham out, the 6'1 Cruz will likely line up outside opposite Nicks, where the Giants hope he can replicate some of the success he had in the preseason, albeit then coming mostly in the slot. Michael Clayton was also signed this week, though it's hard to say what his role would be, if any. Devin Thomas and Jerrel Jernigan round out the corps of receivers pressed into service due to injuries to others. Jernigan could see some time opposite Nicks when Cruz isn't lined up out there.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw
With their receiving corps in shambles after Hicks and Eli looking inconsistent, in addition to the Eagles being built much better to stop the pass than the run, we'll likely see a healthy dose of Bradshaw and Jacobs at least early on. However, the two haven't been entirely successful getting yards on the ground. Bradshaw has just 103 yards rushing on 28 carries through two games. He's totaled 55 yards receiving, and five of his six catches came last week for 45 yards (interestingly, after he complained about the Kevin Gilbride's offense being too pass-heavy in week 1). The Eagles were effective in bottling up Bradshaw last season at 12 for 29 and 19 for 66, no TDs in two games, respectively.
RB Brandon Jacobs
Seen as the thunder to Bradshaw's lightning, Jacobs may be big at 6'4, 264 lbs, but he's not nearly as hard to bring down as he once was, nor as even some smaller backs. Still, he can be effective, as he showed last week when he punched in a 9-yard carry against the Rams and rushed for 50 yards on 16 totes (one more than Bradshaw got, a week after Bradshaw saw the majority). Both backs are getting carries, and it doesn't always break down that Jacobs gets the short and goal line stuff. Despite previously having success against the Birds, Jacobs too was a non-factor in their two meetings last season, totaling just 44 rushing yards and no scores.
TEs Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum
Ballard has seen the bulk of the TE action through two games, and that hasn't been much. He has three receptions for 72 yards so far this season, including a pair of catches for 59 yards in week 1. The more athletic Beckum hasn't played yet this year, dogged by some hamstring issues, but he practiced this week and appears ready to go. He's a sizable receiver and can be used as a goal line target. Neither guy is a Kevin Boss, nor a Tony Gonzalez, so the Birds might have a decent chance at stopping the tight end position this week. The Giants will still try to get them the ball though, if they can get them to draw anyone outside of the big 3, because their wideout options are so limited. Beckum in particular could be a target for Eli as he tries to find the soft spots in Juan Castillo's defense.
(Photo: The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE)