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It's Hakeem Nicks vs. Eagles' CBs

Hakeem Nicks, 88, of the New York Giants

Hakeem Nicks, 88, of the New York Giants celebrates a first quarter touchdown against the St. Louis Rams. (Sept. 19, 2011) Credit: Jim McIsaac

It almost seems unfair. The Eagles have cornerbacks Nnamdhi Asomugha and Asante Samuel, and Giants quarterback Eli Manning has only wide receiver Hakeem Nicks as a proven target after Mario Manningham was listed as doubtful with a concussion and Dominik Hixon was lost for the season with a knee injury.

Other than Nicks, the Giants' receiving corps consists of second-year man Victor Cruz, veteran slot receiver Brandon Stokley, who was added just last week, rookie Jerrel Jernigan and journeymen Devin Thomas and Michael Clayton. As a practical matter, Nicks has to take on more responsibility for the success of the passing game, but he's trying not to put that pressure on himself Sunday in Philadelphia.

"That's not how I'm looking at it," Nicks said Friday. "I'm just going to stick to the gameplan and play the game. We practiced accordingly as if those guys were going to be up [playing]. Those guys had a good week of practice, Victor Cruz and Devin Thomas."

It figures Nicks will draw double coverage from the Eagles, but he's hoping they stick to their usual defensive gameplan. "They've got two different styles," Nicks said of the Eagles' corners. "Asante likes to play off the ball. He's a savvy vet who likes to stick his nose in there and watch the quarterback. He likes to play the receiver through the quarterback. Nnamdhi is different. He likes to play up in your face and get his hands on you early. When it's Namdhi, I expect more single coverage."

Even if it's only to loosen up the defense for the running game, Manning has to be able to get the ball to Nicks and his other receivers if the Giants hope to have a shot of winning. And Manning doesn't figure to have a lot of time to let pass routes develop against a pass rush led by defensive end Jason Babin and tackle Cullen Jenkins, both of whom have three sacks in two games.
 

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