Giants inside linebacker Alec Ogletree had no choice but to stand there and watch the Minnesota Vikings undress the Giants defense to the tune of 28 points and 490 yards of offense last week.
"You like to think you could’ve helped, but you never know," he said Tuesday "Things like that could’ve happened if I was out there, and it wouldn’t make me feel any better."
This week, Ogletree, who suffered a hamstring strain in the Week 3 win over the Bucs that cost him two games, is on track to return in time for the Giants Week 6 game Thursday night against the Patriots after being able to take his full practice reps on Tuesday.
"Yeah, that’s the goal right now, to go out and play," Ogletree said. "We’ll see what the coaches say and the trainers and everybody says about it, but as for right now, I was able to practice today and get better today."
Not only did the Giants miss Ogletree's leadership on the field, but they also missed his pass-rushing ability.
According to Pro Football Focus, Ogletree leads all Giants off-ball linebackers with five pressures and is tied with rookie Ryan Connelly (now on injured reserve) for the position lead in sacks (1).
The Giants defense can use all the healthy bodies it can get, especially against Tom Brady of the Patriots, who proves to be human when under duress.
Brady has completed 31.9% of his pass attempts when pressured, putting him last among 13 quarterbacks who have taken at least 190 dropbacks.
Brady has also been sacked seven times this season, all a result of pressure by the opponent's front seven. Last week against Washington, the Patriots offensive line allowed nine hits and four sacks (both season highs) against Brady.
Ogletree said it won't be easy to fool Brady into making a mistake.
"He’s a guy who’s seen everything you could throw at him. He’s obviously done it longer than most anybody on our team, and for us, it’s just about executing, and they do a good job of doing that—executing, not making mistakes," he said.
"We have to do the same, not make mistakes, be where we need to be, have great eyes, and play well."
Despite the defense's struggles last week, Ogletree is confident that he and his teammates will step up this week against their biggest challenge to date.
"We’ve got a good opportunity to go against a top team in the league and one of the best quarterbacks in the league, so we’re looking forward to the challenge," he said.
"It’s up to us to go up there and do our part, and we’ll worry about the results at the end."