When new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo met with the players for the first time on April 21, he warned them that the biggest challenge they faced in the implementation of the new offense would not be the playbook or the timing or the terminology. He said it would be "handling success.''
Five-and-a-half months later, the Giants finally have found some to handle. They've won two straight games, are running and passing the ball efficiently and have not been turning it over with their previous alarming regularity. And thus, the challenge begins.
"We can't be running around feeling great about ourselves,'' McAdoo said Thursday. "We need to make sure we keep our head down and keep working.''
McAdoo said he watches tape of the Giants "looking for ways to improve, not to pat ourselves on the back.'' So while the mood of those who analyze the team has gone from doubting to touting the offseason changes, McAdoo is trying to ignore the praise.
"We had two weeks in a row where we've done some things well offensively,'' he said. "Not everything, but we've done some things well. We've made progress. We have to continue to do that, we have to stack successes. Sunday is another opportunity to do that.''
Tom Quinn knows the easiest way to neutralize the most dangerous return man in NFL history is to simply keep the ball away from him. "You try,'' the special teams coordinator said of facing Devin Hester.
He also knows that's not always possible. If it were so simple, everyone would do it.
That Hester has returned six punts and nine kickoffs in four games shows just how difficult it can be to play keepaway. The Giants have allowed four touchdowns on punt returns since the start of the 2013 season (last year they allowed zero return yards to Hester, then with the Bears).
"We have to punt it where we want to with the hang time and location and the distance, and we have to cover and everyone's got to be in the right spot,'' Quinn said. "You've got to gang tackle. He is hard to get down, so it takes all 11 guys.''
WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) practiced for a second consecutive day, one of Tom Coughlin's stipulations before allowing the first-round pick to play in a game. "He's looked good. It's nice to have him out here,'' McAdoo said. "He would just be a nice guy to add to the mix.'' . . . Quinn suggested that WR Preston Parker will continue as the primary punt returner even with the potential return of Beckham . . . Falcons G Justin Blalock (back) missed a second straight practice. Blalock has never missed a game because of injury during his eight-year career and has made 102 consecutive starts in the regular season.