The Giants head into Sunday night’s matchup against bitter NFC East rival Philadelphia short on depth but long in memory.
There’s obviously ill-feelings between two blood rivals whose stadiums are separated by 90 miles of the New Jersey Turnpike, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that when the topic of the Eagles comes up, all involved with Big Blue perk up their ears.
“We don’t forget anything [and] I’m sure they don’t, either,” said defensive end Justin Tuck. “They don’t forget the 12-sack game against [former Eagles’ quarterback Donovan] McNabb, because they’ve tried their best to block the crap out of us since then. And we don’t forget McNabb going to the sideline [and] picking up the phone, [or wideout DeSean] Jackson tossing the ball at [Giants’ defensive coordinator] Perry [Fewell]. … We’ll handle that on Sunday night.”
That’s about as inflammatory a statement as the public will hear from anyone within the walls of the Giants’ facilities, but make no mistake there is a fire burning within the players.
Tuck showed some of that fire when he scoffed at the notion that the Giants have anything to prove against the Eagles, particularly since the last time they met, Philadelphia knocked them off, 17-10.
“When people ask me questions about other teams and things of that nature, I always say this, ‘Go back to February and you see the last team that was standing,’” Tuck said. “Ask any of those guys where would they [have wanted] to be on that date [and] they would say where we were. I don’t think we have anything to prove.”
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Tuck might feel like he doesn’t have anything to prove, but it sounds like Eagles’ star running back LeSean McCoy is still carrying a chip on his shoulder due to the war of words with defensive end Osi Umenyiora. McCoy recently called Umenyiora a “ballerina in a Giants’ uniform” in an interview with ESPN’s E:60 show.
Umenyiora fired back, albeit dripping in sarcasm, sounding as if it was more difficult taking the high road than it would be a double-team.
“He is probably right,” Umenyiora said. “I might be a ballerina in a Giants’ uniform. I am lucky that I got the contract. I’m lucky to be playing 10 years in the league [and] won [two] Super Bowls. All that is pure luck. … I am happy for him. I’m happy that he got his contract, and I am happy that everything is working out for him in Philadelphia.”
The feisty McCoy wouldn’t let it go, however, as he noted he “doesn’t like Osi,” no matter what the defensive end says about him and added “this [contentious relationship] is real.”
McCoy also added that while he thinks Umenyiora is a “good player,” the pass-rush specialist may think he’s “better than what he really is. … I lied [about calling Umenyiora the Giants’ third-best defensive lineman last year]. He’s actually fourth now. Other than that, that is all I got to say about Osi.”
Naturally, head coach Tom Coughlin wanted nothing to do with the spat, simply saying “I have no idea about that” when asked his thoughts on the war of words.
The only thing Coughlin would discuss was his admiration for the running back’s on-field skills.
“He’s very difficult to defend [but] the quality of their offense [as a whole] is difficult to defend. It’s wide open,” Coughlin said. “He gets the draws and the screens, the zone runs, and he’s very good at the cutback run. But he’s got the speed to be able to run around you.”
Coughlin then quipped he hoped McCoy gets “zero touches” on Sunday night, before adding he’s looking forward to a game on the field and not the games via social networking.
“We’re just excited to be playing in the division,” said Coughlin. “They’re a very physical, very fast football team [and] a very explosive football team. And we have our work cut out for us.”
Big Blue notes
»The Giants listed a handful of names in Wednesday’s preliminary injury report of those who didn’t practice: cornerback Michael Coe (hamstring), right tackle David Diehl (knee), rookie cornerback Jayron Hosley (hamstring), wideout Hakeem Nicks (foot) and linebacker Keith Rivers (hamstring).
Safety Antrel Rolle (knee laceration) practiced on a limited basis.
Those who were banged up but still managed to fully practice included: running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), wideout Domenik Hixon (concussion), defensive end Adewale Ojomo (hamstring) and cornerback Corey Webster (hand — in a cast).
»Lawrence Tynes was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after his career-high five field goals last Thursday night in Carolina. Tynes, who also had three extra points, racked up 18 total points — half of the Giants’ 36 points in their 36-7 blowout victory. His 10 field goals this season is tied for the league lead with the Lions’ Jason Hanson, who is 10-for-11 on the season.
»Coughlin noted that Bradshaw will get the start but added that backups Andre Brown and rookie David Wilson will “also get touches.” Coughlin added there is no formula when determining who gets the bulk of the carries: “At this point in time it will be according to however we plan to use them. Naturally, we reserve the right [to change minds] — [meaning] ‘Who has the hot hand.’”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.