Giants not thankful for short week

Coughlin prepares for first Thanksgiving Day trek. The team filed a grievance with the league office, citing an "unfair competitive balance."

Despite having a short week and accelerated schedule, the Giants are about as fresh and healthy as they have been in weeks.

The team filed a grievance with league offices because of the short week and inconvenient travel, citing an “unfair competitive balance," but no one within the locker room is thinking about the negatives of playing a Thanksgiving night game.

This week presents all kinds of unusual challenges for Big Blue. They are taking their longest flight on their shortest week of the season, face an unfamiliar opponent, and have to deal with Denver’s high altitude.

None of that matters to the key players, however, as unflappable quarterback Eli Manning said both teams “are dealing with it.”

“It’s not a problem for us,” agreed defensive end Justin Tuck. “The Broncos are going through the same thing.”

Tuck did admit it was a little weird coming to practice, Monday, because that’s a day most teams take off, especially after a win. He said although he’s never played on Thanksgiving, he’s “hoping to eat quarterbacks” instead of turkey.

The Giants hope to feast on a gimpy Kyle Orton, who’s nursing an ankle injury. If they take away Denver’s sturdy running game, it’ll make the already immobile Orton an even bigger sitting target.

New York has had its share of troubles getting to the quarterback and with Denver’s quick-drop, short-passing game, the defense has stressed the fundamentals even more this week.

“If we get the right blitz or right read, we can get to the quarterback,” said defensive lineman Mathias Kiwanuka.

Kiwanuka said the Broncos’ quirky passing game could be a problem for pass rushers but said if they stick to the fundamentals of their scheme, they can disrupt Orton, even if they never touch him.

“You have to get your hands up but that’s not your main focus,” said Kiwanuka of a tactic defenders use when they can’t get to the passer. “You have to get into your pass rush as best you can but getting hands up is your last resort. It’ll make it a little tougher getting to him, though, because of their lateral passing game and quick screens.”

One guy who may fit into the equation as a difference maker will be versatile linebacker Chase Blackburn, who will be filling in for injured middle linebacker Antonio Pierce. Blackburn, who normally plays the weakside, will be responsible in making all the correct calls on defense, getting guys in the right position, and chasing down the elusive running back tandem of rookie Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter. The duo has combined for 1,000 yards and 4.5 yards per carry. Moreno leads all rookie rushers with 600 yards.

Despite being inserted into the lineup at the last minute, Blackburn stepped in nicely versus Atlanta, registering seven tackles. He said his time as backup middle linebacker made the transition seamless and that having an albeit abbreviated week as a starter will make him even more prepared.

“It’s pretty normal now,” Blackburn said. “I study all the positions every week anyway. I have been a middle linebacker my entire life, so it’s not a big deal to move back from the weak side to the middle.”

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