The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.
As surprising as the Texans’ quick start is, not many are surprised about New York’s sluggish beginning given their uneven preseason.
Quarterback Eli Manning will have his hands full dealing with All-Pro defensive lineman J.J. Watt, but the Giants as a whole will have more to deal with than just one of the league’s premier defensive players.
Metro looks at three storylines to watch as the Giants face the Texans (1 p.m., CBS).
1. Conservative leaning
The Texans have utilized a ball-control rushing offense to help keep the turnover-prone Ryan Fitzpatrick under wraps, as he’s yet to throw an interception (345 passing yards, three touchdowns). Fitzpatrick has a strong arm and has historically liked to gamble in the past with risky passes down field. But under new head coach Bill O’Brien, known as an offensive guru during his time with the Patriots, the veteran journeyman has been a great game-manager. Houston will rely on the rejuvenated Arian Foster to carry the load on offense in order to have the rushing game dictate the tempo and keep Fitzpatrick in manageable down and distances.
2. Banged up Beason
The unit in charge of making Fitzpatrick look like his old self, the Big Blue defense, has taken its lumps so far. New York has yet to force a turnover this season — the only team in the weak NFC East not to do so — and now they’re battling injury issues to key players. Cornerback Walter Thurmond (pectoral), who signed a one-year contract this past offseason, is out for the year, while the linebacker unit has been hindered with the inaction of rookie Devon Kennard (hamstring), who has yet to take the field this season, and defensive co-captain Jon Beason (foot/ankle), whose Sunday status is still in the air. Beason, who saw a foot specialist on Friday, reaggravated his foot injury last week against the Cardinals. The injury sidelined him for all of training camp and preseason. If this is a problem the foot specialist can’t fix, the Giants will have a great void in the middle.
3. Washington’s army
The Texans defense has faced some limited offenses this season, beginning with the Redskins and last week against the Raiders. Sunday could be another walk in the park for Houston if the Giants offense continues its trend of not moving the chains and struggling to produce more than the 14 points per game it’s averaging. New York will be without Jerrel Jernigan (mid-foot sprain), who was technically a starter in the new-look offense’s three-wideout set. While he wasn’t considered amongst the league’s best, Jernigan manned the ever-important slot position in Ben McAdoo’s offense. Without the veteran, it’s up to unknowns Preston Parker, Corey Washington and Julian Talley to get some reps. Parker will be first in line to replace Jernigan, as the fourth-year journeyman has the most NFL experience of the trio. But that might not be too comforting for Giants fans, considering Parker was out of football altogether last season.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.