EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The Washington Redskins could not have picked a better time to play the New York Giants.
The NFC East-leading Redskins (4-2) have won two straight, are coming off a big win over Dallas, and now face a team that’s seen its management trade cornerback Eli Apple and defensive tackle Damon Harrison — two starters — for late-round draft picks in the week leading to Tuesday’s NFL trading deadline.
It’s clearly a housecleaning as the Giants (1-6) struggle through a second straight dismal season.
How the Giants react remains to be seen.
The bottom line is the Redskins should be licking their chops heading into Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium. New York has lost four in a row and won four times in 23 games over the last two seasons.
Washington left tackle Trent Williams is wary, insisting the so-called easy game might be a distraction.
“You’re going through so much that football is your sanctuary,” Williams said of the Giants. “Football is where you kind of go to let off frustration. We can go in there and look at them from an outside perspective and say, ‘All right, they’re going through a lot. They should easily lay down and let us win this game.’
“In reality, no matter what they’re going through, playing on Sunday can fix everything. When your building is on fire and you win, it kind of puts it off for a second.”
The Giants were adamant in saying they will show up Sunday.
“We’re not throwing in the towel at all,” said B.W. Webb, who will probably replace Apple. “That’s disrespectful to us players. We don’t go into any game thinking we are just going to throw it away. We fight every week for our families, our kids and each other. It’s disrespectful when we hear that, that someone says we are tanking or something like that.”
Some things to watch on Sunday:
ALL DAY, NOT EVERY DAY
Adrian Peterson still is producing at age 33, with four games of at least 95 yards rushing, and 10th in the NFL with 438 yards despite dealing with shoulder and knee injuries. With a career total of 12,714 entering Sunday, the guy nicknamed “AD” — as in “All Day” — needs only 26 to surpass Tony Dorsett and move into ninth in league history.
In a nod to Peterson’s age and health, coach Jay Gruden is giving his starting running back Wednesdays off. “The crazy thing is, I don’t like it. I’d rather be out there, practicing with those guys. But (I’m) being smart: I’ve been around for a long time. I think I’ve paid my dues,” Peterson said.
The trades of Apple to the Saints and Harrison to the Lions create opportunities for Webb and tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. Webb has been the Giants’ nickel back. He probably will start at cornerback, like he did when Apple missed a game in Houston with a groin injury. Coincidently, the Giants won. Tomlinson has been in the rotation at tackle. He probably will start with rookie B.J. Hill.
With Harrison gone, the Skins are sure to test them with Peterson.
Just like everyone else who watches football, Peterson has been impressed by Giants rookie RB Saquon Barkley. “From what I’ve seen so far, he shows some God-given ability. Great patience. His lower-body strength and balance is amazing. He flows,” Peterson said. “I always sit back and watch young guys when they come in, and he’s one of those guys that really excites me.”
The Giants thought they solved their offensive line problems signing left tackle Nate Solder and guard Pat Omameh as free agents and drafting guard Will Hernandez in the second round. Despite having Barkley in the backfield, the Giants rank 30th in rushing and Eli Manning has been sacked 24 times. Solder and Hernandez have struggled on the left side the past two weeks. Expect the Redskins to probe there.
Giants coach Pat Shurmur expects to use the same combination as last week, with Spencer Pulley starting at center and John Greco at right guard. Chad Wheeler is the right tackle.
Safety D.J. Swearinger has nicknamed defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne “the Alabama Wall,” and that duo — first-round draft picks the past two years after starring for the Crimson Tide — is a big part of Washington’s sudden ability to stop the run. The Redskins are giving up 87.3 yards on the ground each game, third in the NFL.
One key: Washington is one of two clubs (Minnesota is the other) not to allow a 20-yard run this season. Last season, Washington owned the worst run defense in the NFL, allowing 134.1 yards per game.
AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.
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