The Giants don’t know if Ezekiel Elliott will be on the field for the Sept. 10 opener in Dallas. Nor do they seem to care.
While the Cowboys’ running back takes his case to avoid a six-game suspension to court, the Giants are preparing for the team they will face, not the starting running back.
“We’re focused on our own team right now,” Ben McAdoo said on Friday. “Whoever rolls out there for Dallas, whoever they put on the field, we’ll be prepared for, we’ll have a plan for, and we’ll be ready to go.”
Elliott certainly had a dazzling rookie season, but the Giants managed to beat his team twice. In the teams’ two games in 2016, Elliott was held to 158 yards on 44 carries (3.6 average). In the 13 other regular-season games Elliott played, he averaged 5.3 yards per carry and the Cowboys were 13-0.
Even if Elliott is suspended, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said the scheme will be the same. He also said backup running backs Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden are no slouches.
“Those guys are still really good backs,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “They’re downhill backs, all three of them, and Zeke can make that one cut just [like] Alfred Morris and McFadden. McFadden still has a little speed left to him, so I think it’s still the same game plan.”
The Giants are not overlooking the Cowboys, with or without their dynamic second-year runner.
“They’re definitely the team to beat,” guard Justin Pugh said. “They won the division.”
He was, however, quick to add: “We did beat them twice.”
Pugh said he expects the game to be just like most of the Giants-Cowboys tilts.
“It’s going to be grimy, it’s going to be gritty, it’s going to be tough,” he said. “You’re going to feel like you were in a car accident after that game.”
Pugh did suggest he’d prefer it if Elliott were not on the field against the Giants, but he’d rather have that happen because of the Giants’ offense holding on to the ball and not by some NFL decree. Either way, the challenge then would be on the shoulders of Dallas’ other second-year star, quarterback Dak Prescott.
“Our job is to keep them off the field, whether [Elliott] is on their offense or not there,” Pugh said. “The goal is to go out there and not make it as close, get a lead, and let our defense get after their offense. Kind of make them one-dimensional, see if they can drop back and throw it.”
Notes & quotes: The Giants began the process of trimming their roster on Friday, waiving S Eric Pinkins, LBs Chris Casher and Steven Daniels, CBs Tay Glover-Wright, Tim Scott and Daniel Gray, WR C.J. Germany and OL Richard Levy. They also put S Duke Ihenacho on injured reserve. That left them with 80 players. The Giants must get to 53 by the 4 p.m. deadline on Saturday . . . McAdoo offered no hints regarding the competition for backup quarterback between Geno Smith and Josh Johnson. “I will say nothing about who we’re going to keep,” he said . . . McAdoo seemed almost willing to overlook the costly fumble by TE Will Tye early in Thursday night’s game against the Patriots. “You take the second play of the game out of the mix, he had a nice night,” McAdoo said.