Giants fans do not need any introductions to DeSean Jackson — a player who terrorized them when he was with the Eagles.
Jackson has 33 receptions for 693 yards for the Buccaneers, an eye-popping average of 21 yards per catch. He also has four touchdowns.
Giants coach Pat Shurmur needs no introduction, either. He was the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach and later the offensive coordinator when Jackson was in Philadelphia, and saw in games and practices how devastating Jackson’s raw speed can be.
“I saw it when I was with him in Philly,’’ Shurmur said. “There was one time we were doing a two-minute drill and it was hot and late and he said, ‘Pat, just call a nine ball so we can end this thing.’ Our defense was playing back and he just ran by everybody and caught it, ending the drill, so I have a huge appreciation for what D-Jack can do.’’
The Giants are extremely healthy. The Buccaneers are not. Two starters are already ruled out: DE Vinny Curry and LB Lavonte David, and three major contributors are listed as questionable: C Ryan Jensen, DE Carl Nassib and WR Chris Godwin. Rookie RB Ronald Jones is also out. The loss of David, the team’s leading tackler, means the Bucs go against Saquon Barkley without any of their starting linebackers.
The résumé was right there for the Buccaneers, and when they worked a trade with the Giants back in March to acquire Jason Pierre-Paul, they knew all about his pass-rushing ability. In nine games with his new team, Pierre-Paul has 8.5 sacks, but it is what he has done off the field that has surprised the Bucs.
“We’ve played against the Giants before, and of course we always had him as a game wrecker, but what we didn’t know is how good of a practice player he is,’’ Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said. “This guy works his tail off every day, helps the young guys and then his leadership, the way he’s shared his experience and his knowledge with not only our defensive linemen but also our offensive linemen, he’s been very outspoken as a leader in a positive way. He was very near to being elected captain, just barely missed out, and he will be a captain for this game. The intangible stuff he’s brought, we knew the physical stuff, but the intangibles he’s brought have been above and beyond expectation.’’
Trading Eli Apple to the Saints meant a spot opened up at cornerback and undrafted rookie Grant Haley — a teammate of Barkley’s at Penn State — is getting a shot to show what he’s got. He played 31 snaps vs. the 49ers.
“He’s made an impact and he’s making the best of it and he’s getting better each week,’’ Shurmur said. “I’d anticipate we’ll continue to see him as we go through the season.”