Banged-up of­fense isn’t Gi­ants’ only con­cern, de­fense too

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By Tom Cana­van

A dec­i­mated re­ceiver corps isn’t the New York Gi­ants’ only prob­lem. Throw in the de­fense, too.

It hasn’t been able the stop the run this sea­son. The unit has blown fourthquar­ter leads in the last three games, and this week Steve Spag­n­uolo’s group is deal­ing with the in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sion of vet­eran cor­ner­back Do­minique Rodgers-Cro­mar­tie for vi­o­lat­ing team rules.

In any given week that would be a lot to over­come. Hav­ing to find a way to do it in Den­ver on Sun­day night against the Bron­cos (3-1) is ask­ing a lot of a team reel­ing from a 0-5 start that has put sec­ond-year coach Ben McA­doo un­der pres­sure.

The task be­comes even more dif­fi­cult with the sta­tus of line­backer Jonathan Casil­las (neck) and de­fen­sive end Olivier Ver­non (an­kle) un­cer­tain for the week­end. Nei­ther prac­ticed ei­ther Wed­nes­day nor Thurs­day. Safety Lan­don Collins (an­kle) also missed the prac­tices, but he said he will play.

Some might won­der why even bother. Spag­n­uolo isn’t one of them.

“You can’t look at it that way,” Spag­n­uolo said. “We’d like to have ev­ery­one healthy and all the same guys for 16 or 20 games, what­ever it is. Yeah, but that’s not the re­al­ity in the league. We have to find a way.”

Eli Ap­ple will re­place Rodgers-Cro­mar­tie as the start­ing cor­ner­back and Ross Cock­rell, who has been play­ing well in a lim­ited role, will re­place DRC in the slot in more ob­vi­ous pass­ing sit­u­a­tions. Cor­ner­back Michael Hunter, who has been in­ac­tive the last two games, and Donte Deayon, pro­moted from the prac­tice squad this week, also may see ac­tion.

With all the problems, CB Janoris Jenk­ins said all the de­fense can do and play hard.

“Just stick to­gether,” he said. “We know ad­ver­sity is go­ing to hit from all types of an­gles. And just stay­ing fo­cused and just be­ing there for one an­other.”

Jenk­ins was ac­tu­ally the fo­cus of some con­tro­versy in the wan­ing sec­onds of Sun­day’s 27-22 loss to the Charg­ers. He walked off the field, say­ing he did not re­al­ize the Gi­ants had called is pre­pare their fi­nal time­out. He and McA­doo dis­cussed the is­sue Tues­day and straight­ened things out. There was no fine or team dis­ci­pline.

There has been penalty of crit­i­cism of McA­doo, who led the Gi­ants to an 11-5 record in his first sea­son and earned their first play­off berth since 2011. He has been short with the me­dia and he barely ad­dressed the Rodgers-Cro­mar­tie sus­pen­sion, leav­ing it to a team spokesman to ex­plain that the 31-year-old vet­eran was sus­pended for leav­ing the team fa­cil­ity be­fore prac­tice Wed­nes­day.

The team also said Rodgers-Cro­mar­tie left the bench in the sec­ond half Sun­day and re­turned, and that McA­doo told him Tues­day he would be in­ac­tive this week­end be­cause of that.

It has cre­ated the ap­pear­ance of a rift on a team strug­gling in a year when big things were ex­pected.

Ver­non didn’t want to ad­dress the Rodger­sCro­mar­tie sit­u­a­tion. He called DRC a great player and leader, but added some­one has to step up and re­place him.

“I know one thing, we’re the only guys go­ing out there on the field, so what­ever ev­ery­one else has to say, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter,” Ver­non said. “We’re just go­ing to play Gi­ants foot­ball and keep mov­ing for­ward.”

De­fen­sive tackle Da­mon Har­ri­son said no one on the de­fense is feel­ing down or has stopped work in pre­par­ing for the Bron­cos, whose rush­ing game is No. 3 in the league, av­er­ag­ing 143 yards.

“You can’t try to change your mind­set,” he said. “You just tweak some things you have done through­out the week and try to get a dif­fer­ent out­come. It’s al­ways been us against the world.”

SETH WENIG — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Los An­ge­les Charg­ers of­fense lines up against the New York Gi­ants de­fense dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NFL foot­ball game, Sun­day in East Ruther­ford, N.J.

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