When the Eagles signed a cornerback from the Giants practice squad late in the 2010 season, little did wide receiver Jeremy Maclin know that there was an imposter in the locker room. See, Brandon Hughes, the 2009 fifth-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers who is now one of six cornerbacks on the Eagles roster, was assigned the task of playing Maclin's role on the scout team as a member of the Giants when the two NFC East rivals first met last season.
Not to discredit Maclin, but Hughes apparently drew the easier assignment in terms of practice effort required.
"They wanted me to be Jeremy, but I don't think I was quite as fast as him," Hughes said. "But they Michael Coe playing DeSean (Jackson) and he was just running go routes the entire practice. I remember looking at him, he gave me that look like, Man, I'm tired."
Having been through a week of preparation for the Eagles offense, Hughes says the Giants' focus will be on containing the big-play ability of Jackson and quarterback Michael Vick, who appears likely to return to the field a week after last Sunday's concussion.
"For one, they don't want DeSean taking the top off the defense, which is probably what every team doesn't want," said Hughes. "Obviously with Mike Vick, you don't want him breaking contain. I know they have a lot of confidence in their defensive ends, so it'll be interesting to see how they prepare for us this year because this year is a new year."
Last season, the Giants had relative success against Jackson, "limiting" him to 102 yards receiving over two games. That, however, allowed Maclin to flourish, as he torched the Giants for 120 yards in the first meeting before adding 59 yards and two touchdowns in the East Rutherford comeback.
For Hughes, this won't be his first time on the other side since he was already a member of the Eagles when Jackson provided the indelible Miracle at the New Meadowlands. Sunday, though, will be Hughes' first chance to make an impact, since he was inactive for that December 19 game.
"Every game is emotional," Hughes said, "but yeah, I know some of the guys and I've seen the rivalry on both ends and I know it's going to be a good game. This is really my first opportunity to be a part of it."
Hughes hasn't gotten much time on defense through two games, but he has made an impression on special teams, where he led the unit with 15 special teams production points in Week 1.
"I'm enjoying it, that's my role," said Hughes, who has been involved on every unit of special teams except for the field goal protection unit. "We all have goals and one of my goals is just to be the best at whatever I'm trying to do."
Thankfully, he won't be trying to mimic Maclin come Sunday. The Eagles already have someone who fits that role quite well.