Here’s a bit of fiction: The undefeated Giants have not missed Azeez Ojulari’s ability to pressure the opposing quarterback.
Despite the defense-fueled 2-0 start, the Giants definitely can benefit from Ojulari’s return from a calf injury. So, is that going to happen Monday against the Cowboys?
“Fact,” Ojulari said after he was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice. “You know when you’re ready for sure. You know your body. Nobody else knows it better than you.”
It’s been a strange two months for Ojulari, who missed nearly three weeks at the start of training camp with a hamstring injury, returned for seven practices and then injured his calf in a conditioning drill at the end of a joint practice with the Jets on Aug. 26.
“We didn’t want to rush it,” said Ojulari, who set a Giants-rookie record with eight sacks last season. “It is something that could come back. I took my time with it, listened to the training room. It was the right decision.”
The Giants haven’t had either of their two starting edge rushers for the first two games. Kayvon Thibodeaux (sprained MCL) is trending in the right direction and sounds optimistic about playing, but Ojulari left no room for interpretation — even if it means putting a cap on his snaps.
“However the trainers want me to go,” Ojulari said. “I’m going to stay on course.”
DBs Justin Layne (concussion), Nick McCloud (hamstring) and Aaron Robinson (appendix), WR Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) and DT Leonard Williams (knee) did not practice. DBs Dane Belton (clavicle) and Jason Pinnock (shoulder), C Jon Feliciano (shin) and WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring) joined Ojulari and Thibodeaux in listed as limited on the official injury report.
Toney and Belton both played last week despite those same injuries.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told local reporters that he would welcome a quarterback controversy between injured starter Dak Prescott — who signed a four-year, $160 million contract extension in September 2022 — and fill-in Cooper Rush. It harkens back to when Prescott shined as a rookie and stole the job away from an injured Tony Romo in 2016.
“Of course, that means we’ve won,” Jones said. “If he comes in and plays as well as Prescott played — Rush plays that well over these next games ahead — I’d walk to New York to get that.”
Can Rush do it?
“I don’t know that,” Jones said. “But you can’t find on-record where I said I thought Dak Prescott could do it when he stepped in, but he did it.”
Cowboys pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence liked to troll former Giants quarterback Eli Manning ahead of their matchups for years, usually knowing he was about to dominate a weak offensive line. What’s that saying about the more things change?
“I’m excited to see Little Eli again,” Lawrence told reporters about facing Daniel Jones.
Lawrence has three sacks in five career games against Jones. Asked if the Giants offensive line — with four new starters — is upgraded, Lawrence said, “We’ll be all right.’’
Lawrence has been overshadowed in the matchup by teammate Micah Parsons, who has 17 sacks in his first 18 career games. Parsons (cold symptoms) did not practice Thursday.
“He’s a football player, just like me,” Giants right tackle Evan Neal said. “He puts his pants on one leg at a time just like me, straps up his shoulder pads one strap at a time just like me, and he’s a really good player.”