Big Blue Notebook: Pugh, Cruz Out; Giants Bracing for A.J. Green

The Giants (5-3) will host the 3-4-1 Cincinnati Bengals this Monday night in the second leg of their three-game homestand, attempting to extend their current winning streak to four games.

They will certainly be without LG Justin Pugh (knee) who is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. WR Victor Cruz (ankle) is doubtful and head coach Ben McAdoo said on Thursday that Cruz’ injury would be a “week-by-week” thing.

Other injuries include defensive end Kerry Wynn (concussion) who did not practice. Safety Andrew Adams (shoulder) and quarterback Ryan Nassib (right elbow) were limited.

As for the game, it won’t be an easy one for the Giants, they never are anymore, as they continue their quest to find their identity as a team. The Bengals have gotten off to a poor start this season is comparison to recent years, scoring just 20.9 points per game and playing the Redskins to a tie in London two weeks ago.

The Giants are not taking anything for granted these days and are preparing for the high-caliber offense the Bengals have been noted for. They have an All-Pro wide receiver in A.J. Green and and a Pro Bowl tight end in Tyler Effect, who is back and healthy after missing the first six games due to a back injury.

The Bengals have an excellent backfield one-two punch in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard and are led by QB Andy Dalton, who has a QBR of 98 despite being without Eifert and WRs Mohammad Sanu and Marvin Jones, Jr. who departed this past offseason in free agency.

Giants WR Odell Beckham, Jr.’s name is usually in the same breath as Green’s when it comes to the naming the best receivers in the NFL along with Atlanta’s Julio Jones and Antonio Brown of the Steelers. He spoke of Green’s attributes on Thursday.

“A.J. is one of the best, hands down. He was gifted with speed, size, hands, pretty much everything that you would think of in a receiver, he’s got it and then some,” OBJ told reporters. “He’s one of my favorite in the league. I’ve watched him for a long time. Even when he was at Georgia, I was at LSU. We watched those SEC guys pretty closely. Defense has a tough challenge ahead, for sure.”

McAdoo gave a more technical assessment of the 6’4”, 210 pound Green, a sixth-year veteran out of Georgia who has been named to the Pro Bowl five times in his career.

A.J. is very talented, covers a lot of ground, plays the game fast. Great ball skills, hand-eye coordination; I think all the great ones do. He’s made a lot of nice plays over the years. He’s a player that has tremendous length. A very big catch radius and can do it with two hands and one hand.

Green may be assigned to CB Janoris Jenkins, who will be giving away six inches to Green in the potential matchup. Jenkins has known Green since high school and then matched up in college while Jenkins was at Florida.

“Whatever job the coach gives me, I will do,” Jenkins said. “Like I told you all, I won’t get into all of that. I will do my assignment and do it to the best of my ability.”

Jenkins also faced Green as a member of the Rams last season. Green beat him for on of his two touchdowns int he game, which is nothing to be ashamed of by the way.

“One of them was on me. It was a blown coverage, but I don’t think the other one was.”

Eifert has been a beast when healthy. He has been especially effective in the red zone, catching 11 of his 13 TDs last season. The Giants have the stingiest defense in in the NFL in red zone situations this year, but have not covered tight ends particularly well.

“He’s a big target with some range,” said McAdoo. “He has sneaky speed, he can chew up some ground with his stride length. But, again, big targets that are smart and get football, in the red and green zone, are an advantage for the offense.”

The Giants will be short on safeties this week, should Adams continue to be limited. McAdoo did not rule out matching LB Keenan Robinson up with Eifert. Robinson has been excellent in pass coverage this season but a good tight end could still leave them vulnerable.

“I think when you play good tight ends, I think they cause problems,” said McAdoo. “My history coaching the position, it causes problems for people. They’re tough matchups for safeties because of the size and a tough matchup for linebackers because of the speed and the quickness. A lot of times, corners don’t have the strength to contain them. Especially when you go against great, great ones, it poses matchup problems.”

In roster news, the Giants placed safety Darien Thompson (foot) on IR and promoted OL Adam Gettis from the practice squad. When asked if safety Mykkele Thompson (knee) could be brought back from IR soon, McAdoo said, “anything is possible”.

RB Shane Vereen (triceps) could begin practicing in a few weeks. His return date is No. 27.

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