There's nothing like adding a little intrigue, secrecy, and skullduggery to a season-opening contest between two longtime NFC East rivals, the New York Giants and Washington Redskins.
The Redskins' signing of former Giants quarterback Andre' Woodson to their practice squad on Sunday has New York coach Tom Coughlin and players thinking the move is as sinister as a twist in a Tom Clancy novel. Or some plot hatched by the Skins' northern Virginia neighbor, the CIA.
Woodson spent all of last season on the Giants' practice squad and was among New York's final cuts this weekend. He knows all the plays and, even worse, all the audible calls.
Coughlin was blunt in saying it was obvious why Woodson was signed.
"I have been a part of it," Coughlin said Monday when asked whether he has ever signed a player released by a team he was about to play. "I have seen it done. A guy doesn't get in the door two seconds, and he is in a classroom being grilled."
The cloak and dagger decision will force the Giants to change some audible calls for Eli Manning, Coughlin said.
Redskins coach Jim Zorn insisted Woodson wasn't signed just for this week.
""Oh, yeah. Yeah," Zorn said. "And that's something that I would be frustrated with, too, and I do understand that, that it makes it look like we're jumping on that, but that wasn't the major issue with the find."
Zorn said the Redskins scouted Woodson coming out of college and decided to take a chance on him after New York let him go.
"He might be able to help us a little bit," Zorn said. "He knows their stuff. He certainly knew their snap count and just the obvious things, but we're not trying to glean every little (detail), we're not going to put him under the microscope."
Giants backup quarterback David Carr smiled when asked about the signing, and acknowledged he sent a text message Woodson early Monday.
"Don't give out our secrets, Wood," Carr said. "That's what I told him. I haven't got a message back. I'm sure he is in meetings. I'm sure I'll hit him up this afternoon."
Carr then quipped he told Woodson that he didn't know any of the Giants' plays, anyway.
"We'll see how Woody handles it," Carr said. "I'm sure he'll handle it the right way. We'll find out early on if they know what is going on. I'm sure we'll have a plan. We're not going in there without having an answer for them knowing any of our checks, because we do do a lot of that stuff."
Standing in front of a locker that did not have his nameplate on Monday, Woodson said that he didn't hesitate to sign with the Skins after they called.
Washington's move, however, was suspicious.
When Chase Daniel was cut on Saturday, he said he was told he would get the quarterback spot on the practice squad if he cleared waivers. Instead, the Redskins went with Woodson. Daniel was signed to the Saints' practice squad.
While disappointed and frustrated, Woodson said he had no hard feelings toward the Giants. He also said he knows the Giants' playbook and realizes who is paying him now.
"I'm definitely a little bit familiar with it," he said. "Right now, anything to help the Redskins out, I'm willing to do."
Giants offensive tackle David Diehl said the move was part of the game.
"We're going to have to change a few things verbiage-wise, like we do each and every week," Diehl said. "We play this team two times a year and every time we play them we come up with little different things, a little different terminology to keep them on edge."
Defensive end Justin Tuck was coy at first when asked he if knew what the Giants' offense was going to run in training camp after hearing Manning bark out the same audible calls day after day.
Then he got serious.
"Think about it with our offense. We know what some words mean, but we don't know when it's a live word," Tuck said. "He can say (something) and tell everyone in the huddle to disregard it when he says it."
Manning downplayed the signing. He said the Redskins don't know what plays the Giants are running and that the audible calls _ which can change a play entirely or the direction it is being run _ might be hard to decipher.
"I don't know if they will be able to hear everything we're doing, and we're at home, so I'm not real concerned about it," Manning said.
The mystery will play out Sunday.
AP Sports Writer Joseph White in Ashburn, Va. contributed to this report.