KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston
SERIES: 141st meeting. Giants lead all-time series 79-57-4 and have won five straight. However, last season the Redskins felt like they could have won both games, a 19-17 loss at Giants Stadium and a 27-21 defeat at FedEx Field.
2003 RANKINGS: Giants: offense 15th (14th rush, 14th pass); defense 27th (5th rush, 31st pass). Redskins: offense 3rd (7th rush, 8th pass); defense 2nd (11th rush, 6th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Redskins' improved offense will get its first real test against a solid Giants defense that has used practice squad WR Ataveus Cash to simulate the speed of Washington WR Laveranues Coles in practice. New York will often lock CBs Will Allen and Will Peterson in man coverage and it comes down to the accuracy of Redskins QB Patrick Ramsey. If the Giants are to keep pace, they'll need better play from their offensive line. If it struggles, QB Kerry Collins is relegated to the short passing game and can't take advantage of the big-play abilities of WRs Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard.
FAST FACTS: Giants: The team is 12-4 in games before a bye week. ... QB Kerry Collins needs 260 passing yards to reach 24,000 for his career. Redskins: Washington is 2-0 for the first time since 1991, when it went on to win Super Bowl XXVI. ... QB Patrick Ramsey has won the past four games he has started. ... WR Laveranues Coles has consecutive 100-yard receiving games to open the season.
PREDICTED SCORE: Giants 24-20
-- TE Jeremy Shockey can no longer claim that his cracked rib is the reason he is dropping passes. He is simply dropping them, including two vs. Dallas Monday night and one of those a certain touchdown in the end zone. Nor can he claim that the media is a distraction -- he blew off his once-a-week scheduled session, although the first two lasted 41 seconds and three minutes, respectively.
-- DT Keith Hamilton (pulled hamstring) did not take part in practice Thursday and coach Jim Fassel says he won't make up his mind until Friday whether "Hammer" can play Sunday. Also, Hamilton's latest scheduled court appearance on a charge of possession of cocaine and marijuana was postponed from Sept. 2 to Sept. 29, and with any luck at all, along with a friendly court, he might get through the season without missing a game.
-- QB Kerry Collins, on whether the new and relatively inexperienced O-line causes him any pass blocking concerns: "No, not a bit. I've been hit before. It's fine. I'll just keep on doing what I'm doing and I am sure they [the young linemen] will improve."
-- WR Willie Ponder, a rookie, is listed as questionable (strained hip) and will probably not be activated. The loss is only to the special teams.
-- CB Ray Green (hamstring), who has not dressed for the first two games, has been moved up to probable and may be activated for special teams and nickel and dime back duties.
--CB Fred Smoot was knocked out during practice Thursday. The early indications were upbeat, but he was taken to the hospital for more evaluations.
--QB Patrick Ramsey (shoulder) practiced with a helmet and pads Thursday and is in line to play Sunday against the New York Giants.
--LG Dave Fiore (general rest) skipped practice Thursday but is expected to play.
--NT Jermaine Haley (wrist) practiced Thursday and has a good chance to play after being a surprise inactive last week.
--TE Zeron Flemister (Achilles) was not on hand for practice Thursday and almost certainly will not play Sunday.
--WR Taylor Jacobs (pancreas) is out and could return next week.
--WR Laveranues Coles (neck) practiced Thursday and is expected to play Sunday.
--RB Ladell Betts (hip) practiced Thursday and is expected to play Sunday.
--LB Kevin Mitchell (ankle) practiced Thursday and is expected to play Sunday.
--RB Trung Canidate (ankle) practiced Thursday and is expected to play Sunday.
--FB Bryan Johnson (thumb) practiced Thursday and is expected to play Sunday.
--CB Rashad Bauman could see increased playing time with Fred Smoot (concussion) coming off an injury in practice Thursday.
--CB Ade Jimoh could see increased playing time with Fred Smoot (concussion) coming off an injury in practice Thursday.
--TE Robert Royal is expected to start ahead of Zeron Flemister (Achilles).
--Rookie TE Kevin Ware was in line to be signed off the practice squad again to provide a backup behind Robert Royal, who will start ahead of Zeron Flemister (Achilles).
--OL Wilbert Brown was in line to be released again to make room for TE Kevin Ware.
--DT Martin Chase will start at nose tackle for Jermaine Haley (thumb) if Haley cannot play.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
There is more than one key issue on the Giants as they take to the road for an early-season confrontation with NFC East division member Washington, but the one overriding thought seems to have everyone preoccupied with the mix-and-match offensive line.
Even if LT Luke Petitgout returns after missing last Monday night's tragedy against Dallas (he had severe back spasms that took him out of the season opener in the second quarter), the line is still far different than what it was the last time he played.
Ian Allen is no longer the RT. He is, rather, persona non grata sitting on the bench after playing what coach Jim Fassel and his assistants viewed as an unacceptable game against St. Louis in the opener (even though the Giants won it).
In his place is center Chris Bober, which constitutes a new man on the line, and replacing Bober is rookie Wayne Lucier, clearly a new man. Couple that with the fact that fifth-round pick David Diehl is the starter at RG and once again, for the third year in a row, the Giants have redone their O-line.
"I felt comfortable with Ian all during training camp," said Fassel, "and honestly I thought he was making progress in each preseason game. But then he had, well, a rough outing against the Rams, and I felt it was time to bench him."
Fassel's logic is a bit convoluted. "Wayne Lucier is a better center than Ian Allen is a tackle," he explained, perhaps not wanting to add that Bober is a better center than tackle, too.
Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot was knocked out at practice Thursday, but club officials remained hopeful he would recover in time for Sunday's game against the New York Giants.
Smoot collided with safety Matt Bowen while trying to defend a pass during 7-on-7 drills. He was knocked out for "less than a minute," according to trainer Dean Kleinschmidt, adding that the diagnosis was almost certain to be a concussion. Smoot was taken to the hospital for X-rays and an MRI.
"He had feeling neurologically," Kleinschmidt said. "He was intact. He could move his arms and legs. He could feel and squeeze, do all those things. He responded. He did not have amnesia. So he was looking pretty good."
If Smoot does not play, it could have significant on-field implications for the Redskins. The Giants have two talented receivers in Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard, and stepping up to the starting lineup would be Rashad Bauman, who missed the latter part of Sunday's win at Atlanta with a hamstring strain.
Behind Bauman is undrafted rookie Ade Jimoh, who gave up a 42-yard touchdown in the closing minutes with Bauman out.
In the immediate wake of the injury, though, Redskins players were more concerned that Smoot simply was healthy.
"We're definitely worried about his well-being," defensive end Renaldo Wynn said. "It lets you know it can happen at any time."