Five new questions facing the Giants
Here’s a look at five questions facing the Giants (5-3) as they put their 28-23 victory over the Eagles in the rear-view mirror and prepare for Monday Night Football against the Bengals (3-4-1):
1. What is the status of Justin Pugh?
LG Justin Pugh has been the most consistent offensive lineman this season, emerging as a bonafide Pro Bowl candidate after making the transition from RT. He lasted just 14 snaps in the season’s biggest win Sunday before getting rolled up on and hurting his knee.
Pugh was scheduled for an MRI and expected to receive further evaluation Monday morning, and the obvious hope is that there is no structural damage. As of now, those tests are being conducted and the Giants will await word, keeping their fingers crossed that Pugh lucked out.
Seldom-used reserve Brett Jones played 50 snaps in place of Pugh and performed admirably. He did not allow a single QB pressure, according to Pro Football Focus. If Pugh is forced to the sideline for an extended period, the Giants will have to decide whether to keep Jones in the lineup or they could move Bobby Hart from RT to LG with Marshall Newhouse stepping back in at RT.
2. What is the status of Victor Cruz?
Every indication to this point is that Cruz dodged a bullet. A source told The Record after Sunday’s game that Cruz was diagnosed with a low ankle sprain. X-rays were negative and he was left the stadium without the need for crutches or a protective boot. He was expected to undergo further evaluation Monday to rule out structural damage, and the former Pro Bowl wide receiver from Paterson will likely be sore this week. But there’s a chance, as teammate Odell Beckham Jr. indicated Sunday, that Cruz could be available for the Giants’ Monday night game against the Bengals.
Before the injury, Cruz’s snap count was lessened with the emergence of undrafted rookie WR Roger Lewis Jr. and the presence of veteran Dwayne Harris as a blocker. The move was not necessarily a knock on Cruz’s performance, but rather the Giants wanting – and needing – to shake things up personnel-wise and spark the position as a whole. They’d become too predictable, and as evidenced by the production – Lewis and Sterling Shepard caught touchdowns and Cruz’s 46-yard catch set up the second of two scoring receptions for Beckham – the tweak worked.
3. Is Paul Perkins ready for more?
If you watched the way Perkins ran with poise and vision in the fourth quarter, you know the answer is undoubtedly affirmative. Of course, as we’ve been saying, Rashad Jennings still has value in the backfield due to his skill in pass protection. And the likelihood remains that Shane Vereen, out until late November after surgery to repair a triceps injury, will be brought back to the active roster from injured reserve. But Perkins is more comfortable than ever in this offense and has a great feel for the screen game, which should mean more chances for the fifth-round rookie from UCLA going forward.
4. Will Odell Beckham Jr. keep his recent strong play up?
With two touchdowns Sunday, Beckham became the first player since the 1970 merger to have at least 30 in 35 career games. There was no drama after his two scores, either, and the Giants are counting on Beckham to lead them offensively. With Ben McAdoo mixing in Lewis and using Shepard more on the outside, Beckham should see different coverages from defenses and take advantage.
5. How much better can the Giants be defensively?
Jonathan Casillas believes there is plenty of room to grow.
Landon Collins leads the Giants in tackles (69), sacks (3) and interceptions (3). He is the only player in the NFL to top all three categories for his team. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon were productive up front against the Eagles. Janoris Jenkins and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie are playing at a high level.
Toss in tackles Damon Harrison and Johnathan Hankins and the presence of linebackers Keenan Robinson and Casillas, not to mention Devon Kennard carving his niche in the pass rush, and the Giants are hitting their stride defensively with even more room to grow.