Coming off its best performance of the season, the New York Giants' defense also may get a boost for its showdown against rookie sensation Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.
Veteran defensive tackle Chris Canty appears ready to return to the lineup Sunday after spending all season on the physically unable perform list while coming back from post-Super Bowl knee surgery.
The timing could not be better with the Giants (4-2) preparing for the dynamic young quarterback who was the No. 2 pick in the draft.
"Hopefully we won't have to do too much chasing," Canty said after practice. "Hopefully we can keep him contained. Obviously you want to limit what they can do as far as the perimeter game, keep him in the pocket, contain him in that regard, then get after him."
Limiting Griffin has not been easy.
He has transformed the Redskins (3-3) into the NFL's second-best rushing team, averaging 166 yards while leading the league in rushing touchdowns (11). Just last week, he ran for 138 yards and two scores in a 38-26 win over Minnesota. His six rushing touchdowns are second best in the league to Houston's Arian Foster.
However, running isn't all Griffin does. His 70.2 completion percentage leads the league and he ranks third with a 100.5 quarterback rating.
The key though is stopping the run, which Giants did in their 26-3 win over the 49ers on Sunday. That allowed the front four to go after Alex Smith, and it resulted in six sacks.
"You've got to stop the run" Canty said. "They're the second rushing team in the National Football League. We just faced the first, so we understand that we can get it done. But we have to understand the unique challenges that this team poses to us. And one of them is that dive play that they have out of various formations. You have to watch as much tape as you can and prepare for what you're going to have to face."
The 29-year-old Canty isn't sure whether the coaches and doctors will let him play Sunday. Practicing on Wednesday started a three-week cutdown period by which time the Giants will have to decide whether to activate him or put him on injured reserve. The decision can be made any time in that period.
While saying it was great to be practicing again, Canty said he is playing catch-up at this point.
"Obviously there was some rust to be expected," Canty said. "I haven't played football in eight months, since the Super Bowl. It's a highly competitive game. This is football at the highest level. That's to be expected."
Canty would not come out and say that he plans to play on Sunday but he sounded optimistic. It also was obvious he was tired of watching his teammates play without him.
"It's been tough," the eight-year veteran said. "But I've been trying to keep a positive outlook about it, positive attitude, help my teammates in any way that I can, help the young guys come along. They've been doing a great job. It's exciting. It's fun to be back and be able to play."
Canty has spent a lot of time with rookie tackle Markus Kuhn, the team's seventh-round draft choice. He made his first NFL start two weeks ago against Cleveland and saw action against San Francisco.
"If I had any questions, I was always able to come to him," Kuhn said of Canty. "When we watch film together, he sits there and says: 'Markus, see how you played that' or 'Good job there and not so good job there.' Definitely he's helped a lot."
Kuhn knows having Canty back this week will help.
"What I do is just in addition to — or supplement to — what the rest of the guys on defense do," said Canty, who started every game for the Giants the past two seasons. "We all complement each other with our talents and our abilities. So when we've got everybody in the fold, when we've got everybody ready to participate, it makes for something really, really special.
"I think you saw glimpses of what we can do this past Sunday and I think we're just going to try to continue to improve."
NOTES: S Antrel Rolle was named the NFC defensive player of the week for two interceptions in the win over the 49ers. ... Backup QB David Carr and WR Jerrel Jernigan are simulating Griffin for the defense. Carr, 33, joked teammates are calling him 'RG-minus 5.' Jernigan ran the option in high school. ... LB Jacquian Williams hurt his knee Sunday and probably won't play this week. His speed would have been a plus against Washington. ... RB Da'Rel Scott had his right knee debrided and a meniscus repaired on Tuesday and now seems a candidate for injured reserve. ... RB Ahmad Bradshaw, who has gained 316 yards on 57 carries the past two games, did not practice Wednesday because of a foot injury. ... RB Andre Brown returned to practice for the first time since sustaining a concussion against Cleveland Oct. 7.