EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The New York Giants came into the season looking for their offensive line to give them a running game to back up Eli Manning and the Odell Beckham Jr.-led passing attack.
Three games into the season, the running game remains on hold.
While they are averaging 93.3 yards, the Giants have not gained 100 yards in any game this season. Rashad Jennings’ 52 yards against Dallas in the season opener was the best individual performance.
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Coach Tom Coughlin said there were two runs against Washington that were inches away from being major plays.
”We’re just one step away,” Jennings said. ”We need to make sure that we get that step this Sunday.”
It won’t be easy. The Giants (1-2) will be in Buffalo to face Bills (2-1). Rex Ryan’s defense is ranked No. 1 against the run, limiting opponents to an average of 74 yards.
The strength of the defense is the Bills’ line of ends Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes, and tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. The Bills have sunk a ton of money into the unit, with Dareus and Mario Williams making an average of $16 million annually. Hughes earns $9 million a year and Kyle Williams $7.4 million.
”Every single guy on that defensive starting front would be the best player on another line, you know what I mean?” Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh said. ”You have Pro Bowlers all the way across the board, so we’ve got to go out there and it’s going to be a great competition for us. You’ve got to go and look back on what teams did that were successful against them and try to do some of those things.”
The Patriots had the most success, scoring 40 points and gaining 507 yards. That was Tom Brady, though, and he threw 59 times for 451 yards and three touchdowns.
”You can see what they did and there are some things they did well,” Manning said of the Patriots’ scheme. ”They spread them out a bit, they went fast. They did a good job of getting completions and getting the ball out quickly, not taking sacks. We just have to see what is the best plan for us.”
The offensive line has done a good job of keeping Manning clean. He has been sacked three times and he has not thrown an interception.
Still, the Giants want to run the ball, if just to keep the Bills guessing.
Buffalo will try to confuse the Giants up front. New York heads into the game not knowing whether rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers, a first-round draft pick, will play. He has been bothered by an ankle injury for two weeks and there is a strong possibility Pugh will have to start at left tackle for the second straight game.
John Jerry replaced him at left guard in the win over Washington a week ago.
The key for the line will be not to get fooled by the Bills ”weird” fronts and blitz packages.
”They run that Jets defense,” right guard Geoff Schwartz said. ”They are going to show a lot of different pressures, they are going to try to get you on your heels, and get runs at the quarterback. It’s stuff we have to study and prepare for. It amplifies it being on the road. It is going to be loud and we have to be ready to go.”
Getting some big plays out of the running game would help Manning, especially with receiver Victor Cruz’s return put on hold again after he aggravated a calf injury.
”If a shark smells the blood in the water they are going to hunt,” center Weston Richburg said. ”We have to keep those instances that we give them something to a very minimum.”
NOTES: Cruz was ruled out for Sunday’s game. Defensive end Robert Ayers Jr., tight ends Daniel Fells and Jerome Cunningham, and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn did not practice Thursday. Rookie defensive end Owa Odighizuwa is over his foot injury and looks ready to play Sunday. … Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo got to know Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor in Baltimore the past two years and called him one of the finest athletes he has seen.
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