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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie must frustrate DeSean Jackson

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie of the Giants celebrates his fourth-quarter

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie of the Giants celebrates his fourth-quarter interception against Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie understands there is one constant when it comes to covering DeSean Jackson. It's not his speed. It's not his quickness. It's not his moves.

It's his volume.

"He's going to say something,'' Rodgers-Cromartie said Tuesday. "I know he is . . . If you know anything about him, he is a talker.''

He may know that more than anyone else. The two have gone against each other only once in an NFL game, but they spent two seasons in daily head-to-head battle on the practice field with the Eagles. So each picked up some tricks about the other, figured out weaknesses and how to exploit them. Rodgers-Cromartie said he learned there's only one way to get Jackson to stop talking.

"You definitely don't want to hear that all day,'' he said. "You go out there and compete.''

The Giants haven't done a very good job in the past of shutting Jackson up, never mind shutting him down. His 2010 punt return to cap an epic comeback for the Eagles still sends shudders down Tom Coughlin's spine. Jackson has more catches against the Giants (50) than any other opponent, and the only team he has scored more touchdowns against was Washington, his current team. In 11 games against the Giants, Jackson has 11 receptions of 25 or more yards.

That's exactly why the Giants brought in Rodgers-Cromartie this offseason. To help against players like Jackson. He'll get that chance Thursday night.

That they are close friends who train together in the offseason seems to be beside the point.

"I have to act like I don't know him,'' Rodgers-Cromartie said. "That is the only hard part about it. When you have a good friend like that, you can't be too playful with him because you have a job to do.''

Pregame hugs? Postgame meals?

"No, no, no,'' he said. "That's my dog, but I can't. I told you, I have to act like I don't know him.''

Jackson feels the same. "We are good friends, but once gametime comes, we have to go at each other,'' he said. "I'm going to have to beat him on a touchdown, and I'm sure he's going to try to shut me down. It will be a good competitive nature and we will have fun out there.''

While the two will be locked on each other for the most part, it won't be a one-on-one battle. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, usually unwilling to tip any strategies, thought nothing of giving up one of the ways he plans to limit Jackson.

"We'll keep our safety a little bit deeper for that guy,'' he said. "You can announce that one.''

Beyond that?

"You have to hope he's having a bad day.''

Safety Quintin Demps looks to be in line to make his first start with the Giants, replacing Stevie Brown. Demps also was a teammate of Jackson's in Philadelphia. They were drafted in the same class and roommates on the road for two years.

"Everybody in the league knows DeSean is going deep,'' Demps said. "You have to play a little bit deeper with that dude. It's DeSean Jackson, now. All he does is run.''

With his feet and his mouth. The Giants want to stop both.

Last year, Rodgers-Cromartie allowed Jackson only two catches for 34 yards when the Broncos played the Eagles. He said he doesn't plan on bringing that up to Jackson on the field. But if Jackson starts barking early?

"Yeah,'' he said, "I'll have to.''

New York Sports