Gi­ants' de­fense wary of Ben­gals re­ceiver Green

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Tom Cana­van

The Gi­ants de­fense will be wary of Ben­gals star re­ceiver A.J. Green for tonight's game at MetLife Sta­dium.

EAST RUTHER­FORD, N.J. >> Steve Spag­n­uolo spent a lot of time this past week talk­ing to vet­eran corner­back Leon Hall.

The New York Gi­ants de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor has been try­ing to find ways to limit the Cincinnati Ben­gals’ of­fense tonight at MetLife Sta­dium, and there is no bet­ter way than get­ting first­hand knowl­edge.

Be­fore sign­ing with the Gi­ants in train­ing camp, Hall spent the first nine sea­sons of his ca­reer with the Ben­gals. He knows quar­ter­back Andy Dal­ton and more im­por­tantly, he knows A.J. Green, the NFL’s lead­ing re­ceiver this sea­son with 59 catches.

One of the things Hall told Spag­n­uolo was that Green has a unique abil­ity to wait un­til the last sec­ond to stick his hands out and catch a ball, lim­it­ing the time a de­fen­sive back can use his hands to de­fend the pass.

“A.J. has great hands, he is a big­ger wide-out, with re­ally good quick­ness,” Spag­n­uolo said. “We have to find a way to slow him down. We can’t let him wreck the foot­ball game. That is a good foot­ball player, but we will have dif­fer­ent peo­ple on him and do dif­fer­ent things.”

The Ben­gals (3-4-1) aren’t as bad as their record looks. Their losses have been to Pitts­burgh, Den­ver, Dal­las, New Eng­land and the tie was against Wash­ing­ton in London in their most re­cent game on Oct. 30. They have had two weeks to pre­pare for the Gi­ants (5-3), who are seek­ing their first four-game win­ning streak since 2013.

The Gi­ants’ de­fense has led the way, but the Ben­gals pose a big chal­lenge be­cause they are a bal­anced at­tack. Jeremy Hill and Gio­vani Bernard lead a run­ning game that av­er­ages 120.3 yards, while Dal­ton has had a 100-plus quar­ter­back rat­ing in four of his past five starts.

Green is the big-play threat against a de­fense that gave up seven plays of 20 or more yards in a win against the Ea­gles last week­end.

“He’s a big prob­lem,” Hall said of Green. “There’s not a lot he can’t do. He can run the short routes, he’s ag­ile enough to run some big­ger routes and stuff like that. He can pretty much do it all. He goes up and gets it, he can run. He’s pretty strong at the point of at­tack on press cov­er­ages and stuff like that. Every­one

knows what he can do week in and week out. He’s done that for years now.”

The Gi­ants have had corner­back Janoris Jenk­ins go against the op­po­si­tion’s top re­ceiver a cou­ple of times this sea­son. He limited Dez Bryant of the Cow­boys to one re­cep­tion in the sea­son opener.

Jenk­ins and Green know each other from col­lege. Jenk­ins played at Florida, while Green was at Ge­or­gia.

“He’s fast, ath­letic and is very quick, that’s ev­ery­thing you want in a cor­ner,” Green said.

The two also faced each other last sea­son when Jenk­ins was still with the Rams. Green caught two touch­downs in that game.

“One of them was on me,” Jenk­ins said. “It was a blown cov­er­age, but I don’t think the other one was.”

Hall said the teams that have had the most suc­cess against Green mix things


“You can’t just keep rolling up to him be­cause he’ll fig­ure that out,” Hall said. “You can’t just play Cover 2 or Cover 1.

“You have to have a va­ri­ety. At the end of the day, it re­ally starts with the quar­ter­back. You want to keep him on his toes, keep him guess­ing and hes­i­tant to af­fect some of those throws.”

The Gi­ants’ pass rush has im­proved in re­cent

weeks, and they will need it to pre­vent Dal­ton from get­ting into a rhythm.

“Once he gets his tim­ing go­ing, it’s im­pres­sive to watch, es­pe­cially the past few years,” Hall said. “He’s had a lot of op­tions at wide re­ceiver and a cou­ple of threats out of the back­field. Ob­vi­ously tight end. Once he gets it go­ing and spreads the ball out, it’s pretty im­pres­sive.”

The Ben­gals can’t af­ford many more set­backs if they

want to get to the play­offs for a sixth straight sea­son.

“I don’t feel like we’re des­per­ate, but we know what we have to do,” Green said.

The Gi­ants, who are look­ing to get to the play­offs for the first time since 2011, will in­duct two-time Su­per Bowl-win­ning coach Tom Cough­lin, for­mer gen­eral man­ager Ernie Ac­corsi and de­fen­sive end Justin Tuck into their Ring of Honor in a half­time cer­e­mony.

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