New York Giants
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Banged-up Giants go against banged-up Redskins
Although the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins, who meet at FedExField Thanksgiving night, are very familiar with each other considering they play in the same division, don't be surprised if each team equips its players with a flip card to help the players figure out who is who on the opposite side of the ball.
Such has been the year for the Giants and the Redskins. Both teams have been hit hard by injuries, thus making it somewhat challenging for each other to get a good feel for what the other team likes to do.
But that's sort of where the similarities end. The Giants (2-8) are coming off an emotional overtime victory over the Chiefs, their second win in their last five games.
The Redskins (4-6), meanwhile have lost four of their last six games since returning from their Week 5 bye.
After being embarrassed in games against the Rams and the 49ers, the Giants finally seem to have had enough of the ineptness, and banded together to put forth their finest effort of the season last week, one they hope to build on.
"You know, we played good football," head coach Ben McAdoo said. "We learned that we were capable of doing that again and we played at a high level. We did it in all three phases. We were physical. We were heavy-handed. They enjoyed playing. Playing for each other. Playing with each other. It was great to see."
They also got a look at some of their younger players who delivered the goods in the absence of the veterans in front of them who were missing due to injury.
For example, offensive lineman Chad Wheeler, an undrafted rookie free agent out of USC, made his first start last week at right tackle against Justin Houston of the Chiefs and pretty much kept Houston quiet.
This week, with starting right guard D.J. Fluker's right foot in a walking boot due to a toe injury, the Giants will be starting Jon Halapio at right guard.
McAdoo, who always says there is no time to feel sorry for themselves when they are injured, said the key for the offensive line, which by the way will field its eighth different combination Thursday, has been winning the battle on the early downs.
"When you take a look, I believe it's the last four weeks we've been winning the down on first and second down at the clip," he said. "We want to win the down when we're running the football. I think it's exciting to see the progress we're making up front. We've had a lot of guys playing, a lot of guys being a part of it, a lot of different runners in there as well. But, it's exciting for us."
Washington's offensive line is also banged up, most notably left tackle Trent Williams, who is playing with a knee injury that ultimately could require surgery. But if Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon, who is dealing with a shoulder ailment, is licking his chops about facing a less than 100 percent Williams, he wasn't letting on.
"He's a very good player that knows how to adapt and even if he's hurt," Vernon said. "You won't be able to tell at all because that's how his playing style is, and I know he is going to show up and play regardless of what he has going on."
Washington will also be without receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. and running back Chris Thompson, both of whom were placed on injured reserve this week, and are also monitoring injuries to tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring), center Chase Roullier (hand), and linebacker Martell Spaight (ankle) just to name a few.
"We don't spend much time worried about that," McAdoo said when asked about the injuries on both teams. "We play with who we can play with. We're going to have 46. They're going to have 46. We'll be ready for who they throw out there and our 46 will be ready to go."
SERIES HISTORY: 169th regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 98-66-4. The Giants have split the season series with the Redskins the last two years. The Giants, who last played on Thanksgiving in 2009 (a 26-6 loss to the Broncos) are 7-4-3 in Thanksgiving games.