Well, the bye week was fun, but now it's back to the grind for Joe Judge's Giants, who have a small handful of challenges to work through in the coming week while getting ready for their trip to face the Cincinnati Bengals.
COVID-19 concerns, a coaching change at the offensive line, and some injury-related decisions are all part of this week's top storylines as the Giants get back to work.
The bye week is in the books, and it's back to work. But with the COVID-19 virus having once again reared its ugly head in the Giants locker room, Judge, who by now should be a master at adjusting on the fly, will have to once again shuffle the team’s schedule for the coming week to comply with the new and stricter protocols implemented as of Saturday.
And speaking of changes, Judge and his staff spent the downtime self-scouting the program from top to bottom to find ways to be more efficient.
Any changes they do make will probably be behind the scenes, but everything Judge has done so far, he’s had a reason for doing, and before the bye, it was starting to add up to a better quality of football.
2. Eyes on the O-Line
Monday will mark the first day many members of the offensive line will meet Dave DeGuglielmo, their new position coach.
While the introductions should be uneventful, the real question will be how much Guglielmo’s teaching methods vary from Marc Colombo’s, and how might that affect the younger players who finally seemed to get what they were being taught since the summer down?
3. COVID Considerations
When last we left the Giants, they had six players—kicker Graham Gano, punter Riley Dixon, long snapper Casey Kreiter, tackle Matt Peart, tight end Kaden Smith and receiver Dante Pettis—on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Of those, only Kreiter and Dixon are believed to have been close contacts, whereas the rest tested positive for the virus.
While a speedy recovery is hoped for all those affected, the Giants probably would feel a lot better if Gano, aka Mr. Automatic, is making a lightning-fast recovery so he might be ready for Sunday’s game against the Bengals.
“There’s an opportunity for that, but there are some other things that go into that as well,” Judge said of Gano’s chances of being ready for the Bengals game.
“Are there any setbacks in that time window? Where does the physician clear him? There’s a ramp-up period. He’s sitting in a hotel room for a couple weeks. Is it fair to him to put him on the field and ask him to go ahead and do his job? These are all things we have to account for.”
4. Designated to Return
The 21-day window for inside linebacker Tae Crowder’s return from injured reserve started on November 11, so as of Monday, he’s 13 days into that window. The expectation is that so long as there are no setbacks, Crowder will be activated this week.
Meanwhile, all eyes will be on whether the Giants decide to start the clock on outside linebacker Oshane Ximines and safety Xavier McKinney.
Ximines has been on injured reserve with a shoulder injury since October 9, while McKinney has been on IR since the start of the season with a broken foot.
“We’re going to have to evaluate these guys next week and see where they are going into Cincinnati. We’re optimistic we should see the majority of those guys if not all of them at some point down this stretch,” Judge said last week.
“We just have to see how close they are to game action for us.”
5. Starting Over
Post bye records? Winning streaks?
Judge doesn’t want to hear about any of that stuff when the team gets back to work because, as far as he’s concerned, it’s a new day, a new week, and a new challenge on the horizon for a team he views as being 0-0.
“I don’t really believe (momentum) exists, to be honest with you,” he said.
“Nothing that we did against Philadelphia or Washington is going to help us against Cincinnati. We have to learn from what we did wrong and make corrections, but we have to come back on Monday and have a good, strong practice.”
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