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Giants-Dolphins, Week 5: 4 storylines to watch

Can the downtrodden Giants pick themselves up and show some resolve?

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants will be heavy underdogs this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Here are four storylines to watch.

Will Saquon play?

Saquon Barkley wanted to play Monday against the Seattle Seahawks, but that was never realistic. He admitted on Saturday that a high-ankle sprain is a “tough injury” and that to play he needs to be able to “protect myself.”

This is the third ankle injury of Barkley’s career. He missed three weeks with one and four weeks with the other. Monday night was 15 days from his injury vs. the Arizona Cardinals.

Sunday against Miami would be three weeks from his injury and might be realistic. The Giants could certainly use him, even if he isn’t as explosive as he can be.

One thing is for certain. The Giants need to rely more on their running game — specifically the non-Daniel Jones running for his life portion of their running game. The view here is they need to do that to both protect Jones, who is on pace to be sacked a league-record 93.5 times — and their beleaguered offensive line.

The offensive line

Speaking of that offensive line, it is again in flux.

Star left tackle Andrew Thomas has now missed three games with the hamstring injury he suffered Week 1. The Giants desperately need their best offensive lineman, but we don’t yet know if he will be available on Sunday. Josh Ezeudu is doing the best he can in Thomas’s place, but he is miscast as an NFL left tackle.

Starting center John Michael Schmitz suffered a shoulder injury against the Seahawks. We might get a hint about the severity of that when we see Wednesday’s initial Giants-Dolphins injury report.

If Schmitz can’t play, that means Ben Bredeson has to move from left guard to center and either Shane Lemieux or Mark Glowinski would be at left guard. Unless Thomas plays and the Giants can move Ezeudu to his more natural guard spot — the position he practiced all summer.

It seems unlikely that Justin Pugh, signed to the practice squad on Tuesday and practicing for the first time on Wednesday, would be ready to help by this weekend.

Personnel changes

Fans can call for the ousters of special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey or offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, but the Giants are not going to start firing assistant coaches at this point.

They have already made personnel changes. Wan’Dale Robinson played nearly 50 snaps Monday night and is now a full part of the offense. Rookie cornerback Tre Hawkins III was benched. The offensive line is a constant juggle. Perhaps they could activate rookie defensive tackle Jordon Riley or see if Eric Gray can pump some life into the running game if Barkley is sidelined, but there are no major personnel changes to make at this point in the year.

Show some resolve

Playing a full 60 minutes and showing fight after they had been knocked down was a hallmark of a 2022 team that had four fourth-quarter comeback victories a season ago. This year, they showed resolve in their Week 2 comeback from a 20-0 deficit against Arizona. In their other three games? Not so much.

The Giants face a monumental task on Sunday against the 3-1 Miami Dolphins. On a short week they are facing a team averaging a league-best 37.5 points per game, a team that dropped 70 points on the Denver Broncos two weeks ago. The Giants’ offense is a mess. They are double-digit underdogs and would, on paper, appear to have no chance.

Coaches don’t believe in moral victories at the professional level, but it would be progress for the Giants to be competitive, to make the Dolphins work well into the fourth quarter to win this game. An outright upset? That might be too much to hope for, but some sign that they belong on the same field would be an improvement.