INDIANAPOLIS — The Giants had trouble getting their defense off the field last week. They were unable to contain Titans running back Derrick Henry and, as a result, the Titans controlled the ball for 35:21 while the Giants had it for only 24:39.
Now, they face the Colts on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, and no team in the NFL has been more difficult to get off the field. The Colts lead the league with a third-down conversion rate of 48 percent. Will the Giants’ defense be able to force the Colts into any punts? Finding ways to thwart quarterback Andrew Luck and running back Marlon Mack will be a challenge.
“They got a great quarterback,’’ safety Michael Thomas said of Luck, his former Stanford teammate. “He’s mobile, his arm is feeling well. He’s been hurt these past couple of years. Even when guys do scrap their first read, second read, and third read, he can extend the play with using his legs. He’s a very athletic quarterback. Got some good weapons. It’s going to be our job to stop it.”
If the Giants are going to get their running game going, they will have to deal with LB Darius Leonard. The rookie second-round pick from South Carolina State is having a huge season. He is second in the NFL among rookies in sacks (seven) and, despite missing one game, leads the league in total tackles with 148. This is fairly outrageous.
“I’m definitely looking forward to playing against him,’’ Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley said. “He’s a heck of a player. Does a really good job of getting the ball out so you know you got to be conscious of that when you’re running by him, does a great job getting tackles, got a great feel for the ball, just a great feel for being on the field and he’s a heck of a player and as a competitor.’’
Spencer Pulley is out with a calf injury, so John Greco will move in at center. Greco, an 11-year veteran, started four games at center earlier this season after Jon Halapio went down with a fractured ankle. In reserve, rookie Evan Brown will be in uniform for the second time this season.
Not having to deal with Odell Beckham Jr. makes a difference to a defense.
“Yeah, no doubt,’’ Colts coach Frank Reich said. “He’s a unique player, and any time you take someone of that ability, if he’s not there, that’s a big hole to fill. But what you learn in this business is, everybody is still replaceable. It’s a team game, and I know when we lose big pieces, you still believe, you still know that you can get the job done, you believe in your other players, so we know they’ve got plenty of weapons there. He’s certainly a great player and deserves that respect,… But they have plenty of really good players.’’
The Giants’ offense scored 33 points on the Redskins two weeks ago without Beckham and followed that up, again without Beckham, by getting shut out by the Titans.