The Giants’ defense is about to get a heavy dose of tight ends.
Their second-half schedule is packed full of some of the best in the NFL at that position. Coming off a game against the 49ers’ George Kittle, they are preparing to face O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate of the Bucs on Sunday. Beyond that, they still have to go up against Zach Ertz of the Eagles, Eric Ebron of the Colts and Trey Burton of the Bears.
Only five tight ends in the NFL have caught at least five touchdown passes this season. In the next month and a half, the Giants will face four of them.
How will they stop them?
“One of the answers is Landon,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said of safety Landon Collins. “I love the matchup with him on great tight ends, I really do. That’s one thing he’s built to do.”
It’s an assignment Collins said he is ready to take on.
“I’m always excited for the opportunity to play against some of the best tight ends in the game and showcase my skills,” he said. “I’m always up for the challenge.”
It’s been a strange season for the star safety. He leads the team with 71 tackles but has not had a sack or an interception. Against the 49ers, the Giants used some three-safety looks with Michael Thomas back deep. That allowed Collins to roam the field a bit more and to cover Kittle, too.
“One thing I really love to do is get DBs on the field when we can,” Bettcher said. “The game has become so horizontal in terms of spacing of formations and splitting receivers out, tight ends out, tight ends really becoming fourth receivers, and the quality of the backs in terms of pass- catchers, not just runners, it allows you to create different matchups. For Landon in particular, we can do that. If we need to put him on the tight end that particular week, we can do that.”
In the weeks to come, there could be a lot of need for the Giants to do that.
Notes & quotes: The Giants designated running back Jonathan Stewart to return from injured reserve, and he practiced with the team Thursday for the first time since a foot injury sidelined him in Week 3. He has a three-week window to be added to the active 53-man roster . . . The Giants had all 53 players on their roster practice fully.