Head coach Brian Daboll of the Giants walks on the sidelines...

Head coach Brian Daboll of the Giants walks on the sidelines during the first half against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Credit: Jim McIsaac

It was the standard coach evasion, even though Brian Daboll likes to do it with a smirk and a metaphorical wink.

What can you say about Odell Beckham Jr.’s visit with the Giants on the team’s off day Thursday?

“I’m worried about Washington right now,” he said Wednesday.

What are the key elements of his free agent visit, he was asked.

“Do you want to answer that?” Daboll said, turning to another reporter in the scrum.

Then: “I’m just getting ready to practice for Washington.”

There is no doubt that Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen are heavily involved in what’s reportedly a two-day visit for Beckham, but though Daboll turned sidestepping into an art form Wednesday, there was some value to his point. The Giants are riding a two-game losing streak, have dropped three of their last four and are playing a Commanders team Sunday that seems specifically suited to capitalizing on their weaknesses.

Regardless of where Beckham ends up — though it’s a good bet the Giants prefer it not be the rival Cowboys — he’s not going to lend a hand to the Giants' thin receiving corps against the Commanders. Nor will it mean anything to a run game that racked up fewer than 100 yards over their last two games, and is going up against a team with one of the better run defenses in the league.

“I think it’s a combination of trusting it, all of us — players and coaches trusting it — executing it, getting the right fundamentals and techniques,” offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said Wednesday. “That’ll just come with the work and that’s why we’re coming to practice today with a good mentality, a good attitude and I think we can clean up a lot of those things that we’ve been missing the last couple of weeks.”

It's certainly not helped that Daniel Jones rushed for only14 yards against the Cowboys and 50 yards against the Lions, allowing opposing defenses to hone in on Saquon Barkley, who’s been largely contained. Some of that should be alleviated with the return of tackle Evan Neal, whose run protection has been missed since Week 8, and the possible return of tight end Daniel Bellinger, who fractured his eye socket against the Jaguars.

“I think defenses have done a good job of defending” the QB run, Kafka said of Jones’ declining numbers. “When we look at the schemes of how we get DJ on the perimeter, some teams might play the defensive end just a little bit different so that they take away the QB run if that’s being effective. We got to be flexible and create complements off of those things.”

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, for his part, still believes the defense can dictate the tenor of the game. The Giants are 26th in the league with 1.8 sacks per game, but tied for fifth in QB pressures, and “I think that the sacks will come,” he said. He’s been especially heartened by rookie edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux, who had nine pressures against the Cowboys, though he’s still learning to finish (he has one sack this year).

“I just know that he’s on the rise, he’s on the come," Martindale said. "He’s much better than what I originally expected as far as all the other little stuff. I’m not saying that just him personally, I’m saying rookies, he’s much further ahead than most of the rookies in his class as far as how he prepares for the game and his knowledge of the game already and of the defense itself.”

That, along with the potential return of linebacker Azeez Ojulari and cornerback Cor’Dale Flott could give some dimension to a defense that hasn’t quite been able to contain teams like it did earlier in the year.

“We’re just going to have to get 11 hats to the football, and right now statistically, our run defense isn’t very good,” Martindale said. “We need to continue to work on fundamentals and technique and getting everybody to the football. When you start putting in all the other runs, the wide receiver sweeps and all the other plays off of it, I think run averages are up across the league, but I think we need to get better at it.”

And that needs to happen regardless of whether Beckham makes his return to the Giants. So sure, Daboll's evasion has some merit: being worried about Washington makes all the sense in the world.

Notes & quotes: Though the Giants didn’t practice, WR Darius Slayton was projected not to practice Thursday due to illness. Flott (concussion) was projected as a full participant. RB Gary Brightwell (illness) and WR Richie James (knee) were projected as limited participants after not practicing Wednesday.

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