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Giants-Packers matchup of the day: Saturday

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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By Dan Arkush

Giants DEs Jean Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Dave Tollefson vs. Packers OTs Chad Clifton, Bryan Bulaga and Marshall Newhouse 

Perhaps the biggest key for the Giants this Sunday will be for their constantly rotating front four to put steady pressure on Aaron Rodgers without blitzing, which will allow more players to drop into into coverage. In the Week 13 loss to the Packers, the Giants had only two sacks operating against an undermanned Packers offensive line that was missing both Clifton at left tackle and Josh Sitton (knee) at right guard. But the Giants were missing Umenyiora, who has three sacks in the last two games since returning from an ankle injury.

In their last three games, the Giants have registered 13 sacks (12 by D-linemen). Don't be surprised if the Packers work out of the no-huddle more than a little in the hope of altering the Giants' D-line rotation pattern.

The one thing Green Bay's line must do is find a way to limit Pierre-Paul, a long-armed beast with a linebacker's speed who had six sacks in the last four regular-season games. Effective rushing the passer both outside and inside, in addition to being a superb run defender (eight tackles vs. Atlanta last Sunday), Pierre-Paul has a wicked one-arm bull rush that will no doubt test Clifton, who looked shaky in his first game back in the regular-season finale after missing nearly three months with hamstring and back injuries. It's quite possible that Newhouse will see just as much action on Sunday as Clifton, and both Packer left tackles also must worry about Umenyiora, who still has one of the better first steps in the game. In his last 23 games (including playoffs) Umenyiora had 20½ sacks and 11 forced fumbles.

Like Clifton, Bulaga has had injury issues, but he says he is fully recovered from the sprained kneecap suffered Dec. 18 that forced him to miss the last two games. Bulaga must be patient and smart against Tuck and Tollefson, each of whom had five sacks this season. Tuck has been displaying his old All-Pro form as of late. Tollefson, a former Packer draftee, is listed behind Tuck at left end on the Giants' depth chart, but he plays up and down the line and has been an underrated pressure applier all season.

 

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