From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
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Ernie is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.” He’ll be covering football throughout the season.
The bye week reaped all kinds of benefits for the Giants, not the least of which included a 33-20 Redskins loss to Carolina that left Tom Coughlin’s 4-2 squad alone at the top of the NFC East Monday.
Perhaps the most important plus, however, was the final clearance of the cobwebs that cluttered right guard Chris Snee’s head from the concussion he suffered two games ago against Seattle. While Justin Tuck’s (neck/groin) and Brandon Jacobs’ (knee) return to drills Monday morning after missing the Buffalo win provided much comfort for this battered outfit, Snee’s return could be the most pivotal of all.
Restoring normalcy on that right side of the line should not only help keep defenders off Eli Manning, but spark a running game that, despite Ahmad Bradshaw’s key 30-yard run in the Buffalo victory, continues to sputter.
Statistically, the Giants head into the preparation week for winless Miami ranked 30th in rushing offense, averaging just 90.2 yards per game. With the cold days of November and December quickly approaching, it will be imperative for the Giants to find some consistency in the ground game, at least at home.
And Snee can help there. The eighth-year veteran has started next to right tackle for 100 games, one less than McKenzie has started. And though Kevin Boothe did a good job against Buffalo, it wasn’t like having Snee in there. Even McKenzie had to cop to a discernable difference in the communication between he and Boothe and he and Snee.
“It wasn‘t weird, it was noticeable,” McKenzie said. “Some of the communication (Snee) and I have, the unspoken communication, wasn‘t the same. It was different.”
The fact that Snee had such a rough blocking game against Seattle should have been the tipoff that something wasn’t quite right. He had received a blow in the first quarter, but it wasn’t until a second one landed in the fourth that his world started spinning.
Even standing on the sidelines for the Buffalo game, the sunlight hurt his eyes and he eventually had to retreat to a private family suite upstairs.
The week off cleared out the remainder of the fuzzies, however. And now Snee appears ready to come back from his first career concussion, and just in time. With Jacobs appearing ready to resume action after sitting two games with a swollen left knee, the two-deep backfield and offensive line will once again be intact.
They’ll face the 20th-ranked run defense in the Dolphins, who have given up just three rushing touchdowns. Teams have been running against them, as their average of 28.8 defended runs per game ranks 10th in the league.
Those stats shouldn’t bother the Giants, however. In fact, they can’t. As the colder weather approaches, they have to get their running game in gear. Otherwise, that hold on the NFC East lead — only one game now — will dissipate in a flash.
Which returning Giants player will have the biggest impact down the stretch? Let Ernie know in the comments below…