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Spags: Handling Cam Newton no easy task for Giants

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Panther offense

Tackling Cam Newton is no easy task
Tackling Cam Newton is no easy task
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

New York Giants' defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo knows that facing Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers is a different challenge than any his battle-scarred defense has faced this season. Newton's unique skill set, the Panthers' running game and ability to get the ball down the field in the passing game are all things to be concerned about.

"Not many guys are that big and strong. They really put it together. Look, they run the ball really well, it allows him all the play action pass you see," Spagnuolo said.

The Panthers' 445 rushing attempts is most in the league and their rushing yardage of 1,845 is third. Leading rusher Jonathan Stewart won't play Sunday, but the Panthers will still test the suspect Giants' run defense. Newton, who has 480 yards rushing, will be a big part of that. At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, tackling Newton is unlike tackling any other quarterback in the league, with the possible exception of Ben Roethlisberger.

The Giants would hope to control the run and keep Newton in the pocket when he throws so that he doesn't beat them with his legs.

"That's tough. And look, even when he's a pocket passer, he's pretty good," Spagnuolo said. "He's a big, strong guy. He makes all of the throws. And they do a really good job, I think, of protecting. They'll keep however many guys they need in."

The Panthers are also more of a vertical passing team than many in the league -- sort of a mirror of the Kevin Gilbride-era Giants. Newton's completion percentage is a pedestrian 59 percent, but the Panthers' average of 12.3 yards per completion is second in the league to the Arizona Cardinals, who average 13.2.

"I'll tell you what they do, I think they push the ball downfield more than most teams," Spagnuolo said. "Even in typically a third and four, third and five, teams are navigating to get the first down, you'll see them push it downfield and usually it's a positive play for them. That's pretty impressive."

The Giants are 25th in the league in yards allowed per completion at 11.4 and have surrendered 51 passing plays of 20 yards or more, third-worst in the league.

Not, obviously, a good combination.