Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha would probably like to forget his first taste of the Eagles-Giants rivalry. In that Week 3 game, Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw for four touchdowns, two of which went to then-unknown receiver Victor Cruz.
As Cruz and the Giants are preparing to make their annual trek to Philadelphia, Asomugha says he feels more ready than ever to take on Big Blue. Whereas last year's defense was still getting adjusted to the personnel and scheme changes, this year's unit is on the same page and ready to go.
"Going into games like this (last season), there was so much studying that you had to do, as far as not just the offense and what they do, but then what you're going to do," Asomugha said Friday. "But this year is obviously a little different because ... for the most part we're keeping it simple."
Cruz may have salsa danced his way into the public's consciousness, but he is far from the Giants' only offensive weapon. Filling in for the injured Hakeem Nicks last Thursday, receiver Ramses Barden hauled in nine catches for 136 yards against the Panthers.
"He came in last week and did a pretty good job," Asomugha said. "He's a big guy; physical. Tall in the way that Plaxico (Burress) was for them in years past. He can run across the middle and be fine; he can go over the top and be fine. He's not afraid to run all the routes, so you see that in him. He is also another guy you have to key on."
The good news for the Eagles is that Nicks is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game. And according to the New York Post, Cruz said he was "disappointed" to be without Nicks.
"We went in (to prepare for the Giants), and the first thing that coach said was 'They've got some good receivers; they've got a good pass attack,' but he pointed out Nicks as being their complete receiver, or their number one receiver," Asomugha said. "This is the guy that we've got to watch."
Nicks' apparent absence means an increased focus on Cruz. Asomugha expects Cruz to still be featured in the slot when they spread out the offense, but the defense plans to pay him the same amount of respect they always have.
"We thought he was pretty good before that (game,)" Asomugha said. "So when we came into the game, the first thing was, 'He's no slouch.'"
Asomugha and the defense will have the opportunity to not only shut down the Giants' passing attack, but to do it on a national stage. And with an early lead in the division on the line, it's a game worth getting excited for.
"The energy is definitely different," he said. "You feel it once the game starts. You feel it before the game; you feel it the whole week. Primetime games are always different. I think pretty much everyone would say that.
"It's our divisional opponent, it's our rival; it's for first place. It doesn't matter if it's Week 1 or Week 16, it's a big deal for us. Everyone's pretty fired up because of it."
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