The main storyline for Sunday’s matchup between the Giants and Broncos will undoubtedly be the “Manning Bowl,” but for the players in blue and white, all they’re concerned about is not falling to 0-2.
Peyton Manning vs. Eli Manning is a fun national story, but for Big Blue and their backers, they have their own concerns — namely slowing down a Broncos (0-1) team that ran up 49 points on the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens last week.
“I love the opportunity. I love going up against the best of the best and we all know what Peyton brings to the table, a Hall of Fame quarterback. You’re not going to find a quarterback that understands defenses more than Peyton. He’s just that kind of guy [who] understands formations, understands it all,” said safety Antrel Rolle. “There’s not going to be much you can throw at him to really throw him off and confuse him, but it’s not going to stop us from trying. … We have to be on top of our game.”
Rolle was gracious when talking about Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ offense, but he also added that any team — and any offense — can be beat.
“You definitely have to get him out of rhythm. Peyton is a rhythm quarterback. He loves the game to be played to his tempo. He loves the speed of the game and how the game is playing. But once you get him out of his comfort zone, he’s like any other quarterback. He doesn’t like to be hit; he doesn’t like to be sacked,” Rolle said. “Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning — definitely one of the best quarterbacks to play this game. He’s a Hall of Fame quarterback, but I don’t see all of that come Sunday. I definitely take my hat off to Peyton. Seven touchdowns in a game, that’s nothing less than miraculous. But at the same time, he wasn’t going up against the Giants and we’re going at him. … No one on the defense is going to fear Peyton, because we’re going to go after him as we do any other quarterback. It’s a great way for us to go out there and test ourselves.”
The real test will be how well the defense can adjust to Peyton Manning’s frenetic pace. New York beefed up its interior defensive front this offseason in hopes of stopping the run and controlling the line of scrimmage. But the Broncos are primarily a hurry-up, passing offense, meaning all the new girth the Giants added could actually be a detriment if they get winded early.
“I expect their tempo to be very precise, so you have to be assignment-sound and prepared more than any other game. I’ve been working on [conditioning],” defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins said. “You have to be smart and know when you can and cannot rotate. And if you can’t, you just make sure you’re in shape and ready to go because you might be out there for an extended amount of time. … Peyton is smart as heck. He’ll notice things [like fatigue], so you can’t give nothing away to him. You have to be ready for everything at all times.”
Rolle and Jenkins are confident that they’ll personally be ready for Peyton Manning. Here’s hoping for Big Blue’s sake that the rest of the nine defensive starters follow suit.
Big Blue notes …
»Center David Baas, who returned to practice on Wednesday, was again a limited participant in Thursday’s session and is hoping to be available to play on Sunday. The practice sessions were the first time Baas was allowed to work since suffering a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in a preseason game against Indianapolis on Aug. 18.
»Rookie defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder) practiced on Thursday. His status for the game, however, is still “day-to-day,” according to the player.
»Cornerback Prince Amukamara (concussion) did not practice.
»Linebacker Dan Connor (neck) remained on the sidelines during practice, as he’s still recovering from the stinger he suffered in Dallas. Without Connor, the Giants have only four healthy linebackers — Mark Herzlich, who replaced Connor in the middle of the defense, Spencer Paysinger, Keith Rivers and Jacquian Williams.
»Running back Da’Rel Scott (knee) returned to practice.
»The Giants-Broncos game will be the first in NFL history in which the opposing starting quarterbacks threw for least 400 yards in the previous week. On kickoff weekend, Peyton threw for 462 yards and tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes (five in the second half), and three nights later, Eli passed for 450 yards and four scores.
»Jenkins feels that by playing the Broncos so early in the season, it’ll help the Giants prepare for other quirky offenses within their own division, like the Eagles’ up-tempo spread attack and Washington’s read-option offense.
“Any time you can get to play against an offense like that [in Denver] it gives you more experience,” Jenkins said. “We’ll be facing a couple of teams like that up-tempo offense, hurry-up offense [and] read-option. The more you can see it, the more you can face it and be prepared for it.”
»Rolle said as the secondary’s quarterback, he’s going to appreciate the cat-and-mouse game with Manning — specifically when the Broncos’ signal caller goes through the theatrics at the line of scrimmage:
“I wouldn’t know [if Manning is making fake audibles] until we actually go in there and get a feel for the game,” Rolle said. “But either it could be dummy calls, or maybe not. Who’s to say? But we’re just going in … we’re not going to worry about too many of the calls — the dummy calls. We’re just going to go in there and trust ourselves as a defense.”
»Defensive tackle Linval Joseph was fined $15,000 for his low hit on Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo last week. Joseph said he will appeal because he deemed he was pushed by a Cowboys lineman into Romo’s legs.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.