"We are working him. It depends on how he feels," DC Perry Fewell told reporters Friday. "Sometimes he is really good, when I say good he has been good back to back practices so we will see tomorrow if he tightens up, stiffens up, what have you. That is how we kind of approach it – it is a day-to-day kind of assessment with him."
Should Cromartie not be able to play, or is severely limited, the Giants will have to hope that Prince Amukamara, Zach Bowman and Jayron Hosley can keep up with the speedy and productive Colts wideouts. Their backup corners right now are Chandler Fenner and the newly-signed Mike Harris.
The Colts are a pass-centric offense, thawing the ball 61% of the time (63% over the past three games and 68% on the road) and when that happens, they open themselves up to turnovers. QB Andrew Luck may have an NFL-high 22 TD passes, but he's also got 9 INTs this year. The Giants hope to raise that number by a few this week.
"I think anytime they continue to put the ball in the air that gives you the opportunity to have some interceptions," said Fewell. Amukamara and Rolle have been adept at picking the ball off this year (they both have 3) and Fewell has an ace in the hole in S Stevie Brown, who was a record-setting INT returner two seasons ago.
The increase in passing situations will give more playing time to DE Damontre Moore, who GM Jerry Reese indicated he wanted to see more of.
"We would all like to see him play more obviously," said Fewell. He is a talented guy. I think we are all kind of waiting for him to come out of his shell and be consistent in what he does so that we can put him in the football game and get him more snaps...Obviously, in order to get sacks, in order for Damontre Moore to play more we have to do a better job, which we haven’t done, of playing the run game. I think Mathias Kiwanuka has done an excellent job in our run game for us."
That is another area in which the Giants have been underperforming this season. No MLB Jon Beason and no Cullen Jenkins (calf) will make it even harder to stop the run going forward. Fewell knows that has to improve starting yesterday.
"Against Philadelphia, we just weren’t gap sound. Against Dallas, I thought we hustled – I thought we played hard," he said. "DeMarco Murray made some good plays, and we just didn’t do a very good job of tackling sometimes. We didn’t have a lot of missed tackles, the runs, he had some big runs that we thought we were going to shut those things down and knock them down and we just didn’t do a very good job of that. For the last two weeks, in the bye week, we looked at our run game. We made some adjustments and some of the things that we are doing in our run game, so I look for that to improve."
He intends to lean on the Giants' third-round pick in this past April's draft, DT Jay Bromley, to pick up the slack in Jenkins' absence. Fewell believes the Colts would be a good match for Bromley's skills.
"We wanted to involve Jay Bromley a couple of weeks ago, in one of our game plans." Fewell revealed. "He came to us as kind of a pass rush kind of guy. When you test him in some of the other aspects he didn’t kind of pass that test for us a couple of weeks ago. This is a pass happy team, I won’t say pass happy, but because they pass the ball a lot. We can definitely involve him we think in some of our rush opportunities, and I think that is where his strength lies right now with the rush opportunities."
Overall, the defense will sorely miss Beason and his leadership, although he will be on the sidelines providing counsel and support.
"It’s a relatively huge void because your captain is gone," lamented Fewell. "They guy that came in a year ago and was my voice on the field is now gone. That is a pretty huge void. The voice in that meeting room when I would ask questions and he would gather the guys together after practice, or before practice, or what have you, that type of voice is gone for us. Some other guys will take up and carry the flag, but that was a pretty strong voice."
So what's the message to the defense this week in trying to slow down Luck and Co. this week? Fewell hopes his crew will bend but not break on Monday:
"When we play an offense like that I don’t want to use the term beat, beat, beat. They will move the ball, we have to get red zone stops and we have to get turnovers, we have to get those red zone stops. A team with good skills and with an excellent quarterback like that they will move the football on you."