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Coughlin: Giants Have 15 Defensive Starters

Mr. P

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If you ask Tom Coughlin, the Giants have 15 defensive starters, but only 11 can play on the field at the same time. Therefore, the coach’s challenge is to figure out who to play — and when to play them.


The Giants unveiled at least five different defensive packages in Sunday’s victory over the Carolina Panthers, including a big base that included three defensive tackles and defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka at linebacker. Kiwanuka also played linebacker in a package behind the team’s starting four linemen. These variations were mixed with the Giants’ base defense, nickel formation and dime formation.


“It’s a coin toss as far as what’s going to happen week in and week out,” linebacker Michael Boley said. “We like to switch it up and keep things interesting.”


Boley is one of the players affected by the different defensive packages. He’s the team’s starting weak-side linebacker, although he’s on the sideline when Kiwanuka moves to linebacker.


The Giants had 13 plays with their big base and five plays with Kiwanuka playing linebacker behind the normal line. That meant Boley was on the sideline for 18 more plays than usual, although he still took 46 defensive snaps.


“Of course we all want to be on the field at the same time, but you can’t put everybody on the field at the same time,” Boley said. “But they put us in the right position, putting players in the game that are going to give us the best chance to win.”


Coughlin said the lineup could change “game to game.” Since last winter, the coaches have maintained it does not matter who starts. It was Kiwanuka at linebacker on Sunday in Boley’s place, and he could be in Osi Umenyiora’s spot another week.


“There’s 15 guys that start,” Coughlin said. “They’ve all done a good job trying to understand it.”


The challenge for the Giants will be what teams do to counteract the different packages. Sunday was the first time the Giants revealed the big base in games, and the Panthers only passed four times against the formation. Now that Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has seen the different formations on tape, he can audible when the Giants present a different defensive front or catch the team during no-huddle situations.


The Giants must also remain diligent with substitution patterns, which initially concerned Coughlin entering the game. He said the team did a “nice job” of communicating and substituting.


Notes: Tackle William Beatty will require surgery for a fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. There is not yet a timetable for his return. Beatty was in a boot after the game and believed his foot was stepped on, but did not know when the injury occurred.


Beatty was forced into action after tight end Kevin Boss suffered a concussion in the first quarter. Because the Giants only have two tight ends, Beatty needed to play the position in two-tight end sets.


Boss also suffered a concussion in the Giants’ Thanksgiving night game against the Denver Broncos last season and returned the following week. The previous injury might complicate his return from the current concussion, which occurred on a hit that Coughlin thought should have been penalized.


“If people are following the rules, the kid doesn’t get touched,’’ Coughlin said. “That was as blatant and obvious as anything you see. No call, no nothing.” ...


Linebacker Chase Blackburn suffered a sprained right MCL, which he also injured in training camp. He was out three weeks then, although he’s hoping to return sooner this time.



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