NFL Wire News

Giants face Redskins in NFC East basement battle


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The stakes of the New York Giants’ division matchup with Washington Redskins on Sunday — a Giants win will ensure they finish third in the NFC East — aren’t exactly what coach Tom Coughlin or the players envisioned they would be playing for at the start of the season.

However, if anyone is expecting Coughlin and his players to treat this game like a preseason game, they might want to think again, because that is not the approach Coughlin wants his team to take.

“With us having two of the final three games in the division (the Giants play Philadelphia on Dec. 28), I don’t think we have to worry about that focus,” left tackle Will Beatty said. “No matter what your record is, you want to beat your division rival.”

The Giants were eliminated from postseason by Thanksgiving last season but managed to finish on an upbeat note, winning three of their final five games. One of those came against Washington.

This year, Coughlin has been preaching the same message to his team about staying together, focusing and preparing regardless of what is on the line at the end of the season.

As part of his weekly message, Coughlin continues to remind players that they are playing not just for the team but also for the name on the back of their jerseys and their NFL futures.

The message seems to have been well received in the locker room.

“Absolutely, it’s important to win in general,” linebacker Jameel McClain said when asked how important it is to end the season on a positive note. “I want to put on a good performance and the team wants to put on a good performance. So winning out, if that’s the case, the players deserve it for their hard work and the coaches deserve it for their game-planning. So winning out is definitely a goal.”

Right tackle Justin Pugh agreed.

“At the end of the day, we’re all professionals and you have to go out there and execute,” he said.

“I still have to go out there and protect (quarterback) Eli Manning. We all take pride and make sure we protect our guys and put good film out there; because, at the end of the day, it’s still a job.”

Some teams, when they have nothing to play for, go into a protective shell where they simply play out the string, trying not to suffer any serious injuries.

Then there are teams like the Giants, whose coach makes every team sound like the defending Super Bowl champion.

“With us beating (Washington) the first time, we know they’re going to have something ready for us,” Beatty said. “We’ve seen them beat Dallas in Dallas. So even though things haven’t gone their way, you know that they have a good team. So you have two teams with their backs against the wall and really nothing to play for other than that division respect.”

NOTES: QB Eli Manning (back) was limited on Wednesday. Manning absorbed a hard hit in last week’s win against the Titans. He received extra postgame treatment and is not expected to miss Sunday’s game. … Among those not practicing Wednesday were LB Jameel McClain (knee) and LB Jon Beason, who is recovering from surgery on his toe and was wearing a protective boot on his right foot. Beason said he would probably be in the boot for about another three weeks. … LB Mark Herzlich (concussion) was limited. … LB Devon Kennard was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 14, the first Giants rookie to receive the honor. Kennard finished with six tackles, third on the team. He also finished with two sacks, his second straight game with multiple sacks, and forced fumble that was returned for a touchdown by teammate Markus Kuhn in the Giants’ 36-7 win over the Titans.

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