Panthers ground game just as dangerous to Giants as Newton
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara will have more to worry about Sunday than Carolina quarterback Cam Newton's arm.
Amukamara said the undefeated Panthers' running game will present just as big a challenge, even without their leading rusher, Jonathan Stewart.
The 5-foot-10, 235-pound Stewart had 989 yards and six touchdowns before a foot injury caused coach Ron Rivera to rule him out for Sunday. But the Panthers, who average 141.9 yards as the league's second-ranked rushing offense, will compensate with two other able backs in Mike Tolbert and Fozzy Whittaker.
And then there is Newton, a quarterback who is not afraid to pitch it to a wide receiver or take it himself. That is where Amukamara and fellow cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's days could get a lot busier.
''They use the wide receivers as pitch guys sometimes, and that's our responsibility to cover the pitch guy,'' Amukamara said. ''We expect them to run. They've been running great all year.
''But Cam's pretty deadly with the ball in his hands. He's like a 6-foot-5, 6-6 Adrian Peterson. He's fast, and he definitely does not run like a quarterback. So we need to keep our eye on him, also.''
Newton's prowess as a ball-carrier presents a danger to a run defense thinned on the inside by Jonathan Hankins' season-ending pectoral tear and on the outside by the concussion that will sideline defensive end George Selvie this week.
Barry Cofield came aboard Thursday to add his 6-3, 308-pound bulk to the middle, where he is expected to take a limited workload as he works his way back into the unit he helped lead to a Super Bowl championship in 2007.
Cofield left for Washington as a free agent in 2011. The Redskins released him Feb. 27 after he had hip and groin surgery, and he has yet to play this year.
Despite the five-year absence and the idle time, Cofield said he can offer immediate help as the league's 16th-ranked run defense tries to contain the Panthers.
''A lot of the base stuff is very similar,'' Cofield said. ''They're not going to throw me completely in the fire, but I'm sure I'll get burned a little bit. A lot of the stuff is stuff that's very familiar and a lot of it is just football, a 4-3 defense where I'm most comfortable.''
Coach Tom Coughlin expects an effective performance, as Cofield was in outstanding physical shape after nearly a year off.
Cofield spent the season working out at a gym he owns.
''Do I expect him to pick up the middle?'' Coughlin said. ''Yes.''
Note: LT Ereck Flowers, the Giants' first-round draft pick, was listed as questionable after being limited in practice the last two days but said he's definitely playing. Flowers left the Miami game in the fourth quarter after aggravating a sprained left ankle. … WR Dwayne Harris was also questionable after sitting out Thursday's practice with a sore shoulder. Odell Beckham Jr. could take his spot at kickoff and punt return, but Coughlin anticipated that Harris would play. . LB Devon Kennard (foot and hamstring), DT Markus Kuhn (knee), and DE George Selvie (concussion) are out.
- Carolina Panthers
- Devon Kennard
- Dwayne Harris
- Ereck Flowers
- George Selvie
- Jonathan Stewart
- Markus Kuhn
- New York Giants
- Odell Beckham Jr.
- Prince Amukamara