Think Eli Manning would love to get a prime-time win over the Rams on Monday?
After throwing an interception for a touchdown and having a generally rocky day in last week's opener against the Redskins, the quarterback could use a quick pick-me-up. And what better way to achieve that than to beat a former Giants assistant.
Steve Spagnuolo, you may remember, was the Giants' defensive coordinator before he took on the head coaching job in St. Louis. So Manning knows what he likes on defense. But Spags also knows what Manning likes on offense.
"It probably goes both ways a little bit," Manning said. "You obviously know, having gone against them for several preseasons, some of their looks. Each year they put in different stuff and have different wrinkles.
"I’m sure he’s game planning us like we’re game planning him and their defense. I don’t think one way or another. We just have to watch the film and have our tips. Go by that and hopefully be well prepared."
There is certainly a sense of urgency about avoiding an 0-2 start. The Giants are a battered team right now, with DE Justin Tuck and WR Hakeem Nicks the latest casualties on a growing injury list. Though both players indicated they're hoping to play Monday -- Nicks with a swollen knee he hyperextended on his 68-yard catch Sunday, and Tuck with a slow-healing stinger he suffered against the Jets in Preseason Week 3 -- neither can say for certain that they'll be out there.
And if Nicks has to sit, that will leave gritty Domenik Hixon as the only other experienced receiving option next to Mario Manningham. Victor Cruz, who dropped a perfect throw Sunday, would become the third receiver.
It could leave Manning in quite a bind, though the quarterback is reluctant to admit it.
"I don’t think it changes up that much (without Nicks)," Manning said. "You put the game plan together based on what the defense is doing and whoever is filling [Nicks’] spot is going to be very capable of making big plays and doing everything that [Nicks] does.
"It’s just part of football and we dealt with it last year with injuries to the receiver spot. I thought we dealt with it fine. We won some games with different guys playing receiver. We’ll be fine. We adjust and we have guys who can step in and do a good job for us."
On the defensive side, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford will be an enticing target as he comes back from a bruised thumb on his (right) throwing hand. Mathias Kiwanuka said he'd "take the fifth" on whether the defense would actually target Bradford for some extra abuse, but the second-year quarterback would serve himself well to steer clear of the linebacker.
Bradford did throw well in practice Wednesday, however.
Kiwanuka, though, will have fun playing against his old defensive boss, Spagnuolo.
"His influence will be there," Kiwi said. "We are focused on their offense. It will be an exciting game - not just Spags, but Fred Robbins, James Butler, there are a number of guys who were here who are now in St. Louis. It will be good to see those guys, but once we get out there, once that ball is kicked, they’re just the opponent."