Giants' Andrew Thomas, the No. 4 pick, has played better...

Giants' Andrew Thomas, the No. 4 pick, has played better than Chase Young, the defensive end taken No. 2 by Washington. Credit: AP/Kamil Krzaczynski

Andrew Thomas and Chase Young are approaching Round Two of their heavyweight battle, which will continue as long as the two first-round draft picks remain division rivals. Even though their first meeting was just three weeks ago, the projection for this matchup is far different.

Thomas is coming off what most believe was the best game of his career against the Bucs.

"I’ve seen this guy take a step forward every week," Joe Judge said. "This guy has been playing with great effort every game."

After a sizzling start to his career with 2 1⁄2 sacks in his first two games, Young hasn’t registered any in the past three. He hasn’t even had a quarterback hit since Week 2. And despite fears that he would be a game-wrecker in that first clash with Thomas, who has struggled through most of his rookie season, Young had only three tackles.

That also was the game Thomas did not start, as he was benched early after missing a team meeting. It took away a bit of the luster from the clash between the No. 2 overall pick (Young) and the No. 4.

"He’s a great player," Thomas said Thursday. "Very athletic. Very good lateral quickness. He can move side to side pretty well."

Thomas said he knows he’ll be linked with Young for a while.

"You hear about it, but I don’t focus too much on it," he said.

He also said he knows he won’t be facing Young exclusively.

"Montez Sweat, [Ryan] Kerrigan, all those guys are really good," he said. "I can’t get too focused on one guy because I’m going to see multiple in a game."

This will be the first time Thomas gets to face an NFL opponent a second time in a season. That it is the second time in a month makes the opponents even more familiar. But Thomas said he isn’t going to rely on those recent memories.

"You go back in like you don’t know anything about the team," he said. "Looking at all their different pressures, looking at their fronts. You go back and watch the games they played since they played us and see if there’s any adjustments. See if there is anything they would do differently than the first time."

They might. Because even though it’s been just a few weeks, Thomas enters this game as a different player himself.

Notes & quotes: RB Devonta Freeman (ankle) was limited in practice, the first time he was a participant since his injury in Week 7. He could play Sunday. . . Linebacker Carter Coughlin’s first career sack came on Monday night against none other than Tom Brady. "The moment it happened, I was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that just happened,’ " Coughlin said. "There was a little blackout moment, but I only got to think like that for about three seconds and then it was back to, OK, we need to go win this game. But I didn’t say anything to him." . . . Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said he is excited to get Dante Pettis in the building next week, calling him "one of the best punt returners in the history of college football." The Giants claimed the wide receiver off waivers on Wednesday and he could become an impact player on special teams. At the University of Washington, he returned nine punts for touchdowns. In 2 1/2 seasons with the 49ers, though, Pettis had just 11 opportunities to return punts, had a long of 14 yards and averaged 3.7 yards per attempt. "Obviously, he’s had some success in the past," McGaughey said. "Hopefully, once he gets here, we’ll find out what his skill set is, what he can do. Find his strengths and try to play to that."

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