The Giants host the lowly Browns as they look to get back on track after a disappointing loss to the Eagles last week.
What to watch for …
1. Will the Giants pass rush finally break through?
The trio of Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck have only a combined 2.5 sacks so far this season.
Umenyiora said he’s hoping to get the NASCAR unit back on track, but it’s difficult to bring the pressure when the Giants have so many other issues on defense.
“There’s really no counter for it,” Umenyiora said of the way opposing offenses are focused on stopping the terrifying triumvirate. “Obviously we have some injuries in our secondary so you can’t commit too many people to a rush. But, if you don’t do that then you’re going to allow teams to have more time because they keep more people in to protect. … It’s a very difficult situation that we’re in.”
New York will need to figure it out, because Brandon Weeden has tossed for 300-plus yards in two of his first four games.
2. Injuries are crippling Giants’ roster
Wideout Hakeem Nicks (foot/knee) has been ruled out, and fellow wideout Ramses Barden (concussion) is likely out as well.
That thins out an already depleting corps. Domenik Hixon will be the starter opposite Victor Cruz, with second-year receiver Jerrel Jernigan or rookie Rueben Randle also getting reps. When that happens, Cruz will kick inside to the slot in three-wideout sets.
Defensively, it’s not much better for Big Blue, as the secondary has taken a beating. Starting cornerback Corey Webster missed practice on Thursday as a precaution to rest his ailing hamstring, but he’s also dealing with a broken hand. Antrel Rolle also has been limited in practice.
3. Can the Browns’ youth finally get a win?
Cleveland fields one of the league’s youngest rosters in the league, with 15 rookies and 11 second-year players.
They’re led by the 28-year-old rookie quarterback Weeden, but also have rookie Trent Richardson at running back. The third-overall pick, the 5-foot-9, 230-pound Richardson ranks second among rookies in receptions (15), second in yards from scrimmage (240), second in first downs (14) and fourth in rushing (222).
If Richardson gets going early and softens up the defense, play-action passing could be a huge advantage for the upstart Browns. The Giants could be primed for an aerial assault.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.