The Green Bay Packers, coming off a humbling, blowout loss at San Francisco, have a chance to get well on Sunday against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J.
The Giants have lost seven in a row. Their rookie quarterback, Daniel Jones, has 18 turnovers, including seven lost fumbles over the last five games. Their best player, running back Saquon Barkley, hasn't been the same since suffering a high-ankle sprain early in the season. New York's secondary includes two rookie cornerbacks and might not include its top safety.
For the Packers, the focus is inward. They've lost two of their last three games with a sputtering offense, error-prone defense and shaky special teams.
"I just think what we lacked, and from a coaching standpoint, as well, is just communication," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. "We've got to make sure everybody's on the same page. We had too many mental mistakes and too many lapses on communication, really, in all three phases. And that's the stuff that really gets you beat.
"Especially when you look on the defensive side of the ball, we're not communicating certain types of calls, we don't pass things off the right way and the next thing you know they get an explosive. So, really in all three phases, the communication has to be much better."
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is coming off one of the worst games of his career. He'll face a Giants defense that is 31st in yards allowed per pass (8.08), with rookies DeAndre Baker and Corey Ballentine starting alongside Janoris Jenkins at cornerback. Safety Jabrill Peppers, who leads the team in tackles and forced fumbles, did not practice Wednesday due to a back injury.
"Probably converting on third down, getting down in the red zone and converting in the red zone," Rodgers said of the key to getting the offense going. "I don't think there's any magic recipe. We have to get the ball to our playmakers."
Green Bay failed on its first 14 third downs at San Francisco.
Meanwhile, New York lost its seventh in a row at Chicago on Sunday, a 19-14 verdict that marked its fourth loss in five games by seven points or fewer. Jones threw two touchdown passes with zero interceptions but lost his league-worst 10th fumble.
Barkley, who led the league in yards from scrimmage last year, rushed 17 times for 59 yards and caught two passes for only 1 yard.
"Our guys are fighting through," Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. "I'm thankful for the fact that these guys know how to persevere and fight. We've been involved in a lot of very close games that just haven't quite gone our way. We're fighting to get it to break over the top and obviously win this next game and then try to start winning consistency. I think that's the important piece. They're about their business, win, lose or draw."
Peppers isn't the only injured starter for the Giants. Evan Engram, who would be a huge asset against a Packers defense that has struggled against tight ends, didn't practice because of a foot injury that's sidelined him the past two games. Fellow tight end Rhett Ellison (concussion) and receiver Golden Tate (concussion) were out, as well.
For Green Bay, right tackle Bryan Bulaga missed most of last week's game with a knee injury and did not practice Wednesday. The Packers claimed veteran tackle Jared Veldheer off waivers from New England, and he could potentially step directly into the starting lineup. Tight end Jimmy Graham (knee) didn't practice Wednesday, either, during a light workout.
Out with concussion
Giants wide receiver Golden Tate was ruled out for Sunday's game because of a concussion.
The 31-year-old Tate missed practice again Friday because of the injury, which he sustained last week while making a touchdown catch against the Chicago Bears. He ranks second on the team with 36 receptions for 450 yards and four touchdowns.
Minus Tate, the Giants likely will rely more heavily on backup wide receivers Cody Latimer and Sterling Shepard. Latimer has 15 catches for 180 yards and one touchdown this season, while Shepard has 30 catches for 282 yards and a score despite missing six games due to injury.