The good news for the Giants' defense is that Eagles big-play wide receiver DeSean Jackson is questionable with a foot injury that limited him in practice all week. For a player whose speed is his greatest asset, that could be a major problem come Sunday.
The bad news, as Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell sees it is that Jackson's injury during the week might not slow him down on Sunday. "They told me when we played the Lions that Calvin Johnson had a shoulder and couldn't even raise his arm," Fewell said Friday with a rueful smile. "Next thing I know, he was running 87 yards downfield. So, I don't take those things into it. I say he's going to play and he's ready to roll. I've been burned that one other time, so, unless he doesn't show up, I say he's full speed."
The Giants certainly will put Jackson's foot to the test Sunday afternoon at New Meadowlands Stadium. Cornerback Terrell Thomas said the Giants are well aware of the Eagles' injury report. "We know about all the injuries, and we know about his history," Thomas said of Jackson. "We know he's going to fall to the ground every time somebody gets close.
"We're not out there trying to hurt anybody, but this is football. It's part of the game. If there's any advantage, we're going to use it. If he has a little ankle injury, then, we're going to try to tackle the ankle. Not deliberately try to hurt him, but it's a part of the game."
In other words, the Giants test Jackson to see whether he can play through whatever pain he might be feeling? "Exactly," Thomas said.
Naturally, they want to be physical with Jackson when they can jam him within five yards of the line of scrimmage. The danger is what happens if Jackson gets off the jam and no one is covering over the top of the cornerback. Fewell said the ideal is to have deep help except that it takes away from the run support against running back LeSean McCoy.
Asked how Jackson handles the jam at the line of scrimmage, Thomas said, "He's not too tough. There's more polished wide receivers at getting off the press. Obviously, his speed and quickness makes it a lot harder. If you miss your jam, you're in trouble. He has great speed. You have to take that into account and not lunge. You have to get a solid jam on him."
Although Jackson and wideout Jeremy Maclin both are threats to go the distance from anyplace on the field, Fewell said his attention is centered more on McCoy, whose 50-yard TD on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter a month ago in Philly was the backbreaker in a 27-17 Eagles win.
"In my opinion, [McCoy] is the guy," Fewell said. "The receivers get all the accolades, but if you look at the games and who damages you in the fourth quarter, against us, it was McCoy. Against Dallas, it was McCoy. He's the guy who inflicts pain on you and the other guys get the glory. So, he's a tough cat to handle now. He's just pounding away at you, and then, in the fourth quarter, he gets stronger. He's a very tough man to cover with 60 minutes of football."