Mention DeMarco Murray to any Giants player or coach and you'll almost invariably get the same reaction. It's the nervous, embarrassed chuckle of a guy who just jumped out of the way of a speeding cab and landed safely on the sidewalk.
Dodged one there!
The Giants managed to dodge Murray for the most part last year. The flashy rookie running back for the Cowboys entered the Dec. 11 game against the Giants with 872 rushing yards on the season, including a team-record 253 against the Rams in Week 6. But he left the Giants game after only five carries for 25 yards with a broken ankle suffered when Dave Tollefson tackled him in the first quarter.
That put him on injured reserve for the rest of the season and meant that in two games against the Cowboys, the Giants had to try to stop him only five times. They never really saw much of his magic.
"I was close enough to the field," Tom Coughlin said of the limited time the Giants did have to worry about Murray last year. "Thank you for reminding me. I thought maybe the indigestion would go away."
"We saw enough of him," Justin Tuck added.
The Giants know they'll get the Full Murray Wednesday night. Now a second-year player and fully recovered from his ankle injury, Murray will be a key to the Cowboys' offense against the Giants. And stopping him will be a key for the Giants.
The defensive players talk about disrupting Tony Romo, trying to rattle him, but Tuck said the best way to do that is to take away the ground game.
"The biggest thing is probably stopping the run," Tuck said. "Make sure he doesn't have that as a crutch. Pin everything on him. He still can make you look real bad when it's all on him and he's throwing the football, but that gives us a fighting chance."
The odd thing is that no one seems to think the loss of Murray last year changed the Cowboys' offense. Felix Jones re-emerged as Dallas' featured back and even had 106 rushing yards against the Giants in that Dec. 11 game in which Murray was injured. In the regular-season finale for the division title, though, Jones managed only 30 yards on 11 carries against the Giants.
"I don't think they really changed too much because Felix was still the guy at the time," said Giants tight end Martellus Bennett, who was in the Cowboys' offensive meetings during that time. "One thing Jason Garrett is really good at is the way their offense runs, they can pretty much stick guys anywhere and make plays."
The Giants don't believe the Cowboys' offense got any worse, any less dangerous, without Murray, but they certainly believe it will be better with him. Tuck called him a "ping-pong back" who can cut from one gap to the next "in the blink of an eye."
"Having the running back back is definitely going to be a big positive for their team," Michael Boley said. "I expect them to be a better team than they were last year."
"He's the type of guy who runs right behind that tackle or guard and he finds a little crease and he slithers his way through for 4 or 5 yards," defensive tackle Linval Joseph said. "That's clutch."
It's something the Giants have seen before with backs such as LeSean McCoy and even their own rookie, David Wilson. But they've never seen it for an entire game from Murray. Until now.