Giants creating novel defensive alignments

Defensive linemen Fred Robbins, left, and Justin Tuck,

Defensive linemen Fred Robbins, left, and Justin Tuck, center, work out at training camp. (Credit: Steve Jacobs)

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ALBANY - Having Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora at opposite ends of the defensive line would be enough to give any offense a migraine. Imagine putting them side by side on the quarterback's blind side.

The Giants' coaches have imagined it, and they've been dreaming up plenty of other schemes and systems. On Sunday, the Giants unveiled a 5-1-5 look, with five defensive backs and Antonio Pierce at linebacker. Then, reading from left to right, as a quarterback would see them across the front, were Umenyiora, Tuck, Barry Cofield, Jay Alford and Mathias Kiwanuka.

That sound you hear is the collective gulp of every offensive lineman in the NFL.

"There's more to come," Tom Coughlin said. "Different alignments, different situations. Try to create some issues for people . . . That's just getting started."

Anyone who wondered how the Giants would be able to get all of their talented defensive linemen on the field might have just gotten the answer: Put 'em all out there. And that's not even the projected starters.

Coughlin said as injured players return to the field - defensive tackle Fred Robbins came off the physically unable to perform list yesterday -- the defense will take on more and more shapes and sizes.

"The guys who are not practicing [Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty] are part of that package, too," Coughlin said.

Five of the Giants' best defensive linemen against five of any other team's best offensive linemen. No chance for double teams on Tuck or Umenyiora. No time to adjust blocking packages on the fly. It's almost diabolical.

How many combinations can the Giants come up with? Plenty.

"It's like a calculus formula sometimes with all of these different groups out there," defensive line coach Mike Waufle said. "There is some science to it."

Waufle spent a good part of his offseason watching film of the 2008 season and trying to think about the personnel he would put on the field for each play and how those permutations would unfold. It was a little like fantasy football.

"Fantasy football doesn't have defensive linemen,'' Waufle said. "And I don't really like fantasy football because I really don't like quarterbacks, and they're all over fantasy football."

In this fantasy, it's the linemen who get to be all over the quarterbacks.

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