Plaxico Burress knows how to use his exceptional size and good speed to gain separation from defensive backs and bust up soft zones. Because of a 9-inch height advantage that Burress has over Colts cornerback Jason David, expect plenty of quick outs, slant routes and skinny posts where Burress can use his frame to shield the ball from the corner. The key here is that David must wrap up quickly and not let Burress turn the quick 5-6 yard reception turn into a 15-20 yarder.
Though not a speed burner, Burress can get vertical and use his height to make down-the-field catches, so help over the top is essential. While Burress does have the ability to out-jump even double coverages for a catch, Eli Manning will be less tempted to throw a deep ball in Plaxico's direction if he sees double coverage.
Burress, however, is still an enigma. One really never knows what to expect week-in and week-out. After a fantastic first two-thirds of a season in 2005, he really faded away in the last third and was a non-factor in several late season contests. He also has earned the reputation as a moody player who gets frustrated when things don't go his way.
Jason David missed the entire preseason and hasn't seen game action in seven months. He knows he will be a marked man because of that -- and because of his height disadvantage. David has had to deal with folks telling him he's too small his entire football life. Coming out of Washington State, the scouting report on him was "were he three inches taller and twenty pounds heavier he'd be a top ten pick in the draft."
David has learned a lot in his nearly two full seasons as a starting corner. Remember his first professional start against Green Bay in the Dome during the 2004 season? That was not a pretty site. With experience comes knowledge. He now has a good grasp of what he can and cannot get away with. Jason's strength is his foot speed and quickness. This allows him to stay close in coverage, which is important because he reads and jumps routes well. But that doesn't translate into David being good in press coverage. He's simply not built for that style of play, so you'll rarely see him jamming receivers at the line.
However, he does have a gambling nature, so he'll try to induce opposing quarterbacks into throwing his direction by showing press then backpedaling quickly at the snap. The danger here is not to give up too much cushion by not coming out of his backpedal quick enough and thus allowing the receiver to dictate positioning.
This is a classic matchup of physical size against refined technique. David's smart and experienced enough to win the battle, but Burress has a natural edge that he may be able to parlay into an advantage Sunday night.