Going against a former team in the NFL isn't rare, not in the age of free agency. Now, going against a team you were just playing for a few weeks ago? That's a little different.
Markus Golden was a Giant just about seven weeks ago, before his Oct. 23 trade to the Cardinals. He knows this team. He was part of this team. Now he needs to beat them.
"Not different as far as me feeling some type of way," Golden said. "The difference is just me playing some guys I know. I was just down there a couple months ago. But other than that, it's the same – a regular game, we want to win. I'm going out there the same person, competing. These guys who played with me, they know how hard I go."
It's not a big surprise. Golden's intensity is so high anyway, what would adding a former team into the equation really mean (which already happened for him last year when the Giants played the Cardinals.)
"Obviously Junk is an emotional guy," defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. "He plays the game the right way, he plays fast and physical. Doesn't matter who he is going against. For him and for our team, this is a huge game just to get us back on track."
Golden said he hasn't given any tips on how to topple the Giants offense to the coaches, saying they know already what they need to know. This week for Golden – the Junkyard Dog – is just about seeing an opponent and going after the opponent. That they are the Giants is moot.
"This is a job, this is a business," Golden said. "I got traded, and I'm here as an Arizona Cardinal now. Of course, you'll see guys, say 'What's up' to them, but other than that I'm more focused on getting out there and competing, getting out there and trying to win this game."
-- That's the bottom line, isn't it – winning the game. It feels like the Cards likely have to win out for a playoff berth, and they certainly have to win three of four at the minimum. Beating the Giants, who yes, have won four straight but are still 5-7, is a must.
-- Larry Fitzgerald didn't love missing two games, especially when he couldn't just be on the sidelines. But it did give him a chance to watch the game from afar, and maybe allow him some insights he passed along to teammates and coaches (although he wouldn't divulge details.)
"When you are actually taking a step back, a birds-eye view, you see a lot more," Fitzgerald said. "I've discussed those things with my coaches and teammates, but you do see things you don't normally wouldn't see when you're playing. It was pretty helpful to be able to observe from a distance."
-- Speaking of Fitz, the impact of his return, through the perspective of tight end Dan Arnold: "After these last couple of weeks, just having a voice to kind of calm down everything and keep us in one straight line, I think that will definitely be a good thing to have."
-- Fitz's catches streak is alive, for all those asking. It's 253 and counting and can only be snapped if he plays in a game in which he his shut out. Even if he doesn't play as much as usual, I'm thinking Kliff Kingsbury will make sure he gets at least one reception.
-- You never like guys popping up midweek on the injury report because you never really have a true sense of what happened. And the Cards had five such cases this week – Isaiah Simmons, DeAndre Hopkins, Kenyan Drake, Kelvin Beachum and Zane Gonzalez. It sounds like Simmons and Hopkins are fine, the former important after De'Vondre Campbell missed all week of practice with a bad ankle, and the latter important because, well, he's D-Hop. While Chase Edmonds has been great playing in New York, the Cards are better when Drake is available. You don't want to lose a steady right tackle like Beachum. And while I know what the reaction was and is to Gonzalez's tentative plight, we'll see if it is him or Mike Nugent (we will know by Saturday if Nugent can even be a game-day option; Nugent would have to be pulled up from the practice squad to be available for Sunday to kick.)
-- Kingsbury has taken a lot of heat, understandably so, for the struggles of the offense of late. But Edmonds in talking about his coach emphasized Kingsbury has been make the effort to fix the problems.
"One thing I like about Kliff, he's not prideful," Edmonds said. "In this game, this world, you get certain coaches that can be prideful and if something isn't working, they're going to be like, 'OK guys, it's not working but we're going to stick to I, stick to our guns' and keep trying to get it done with the same exact approach.
"If something isn't working, we're already looking for new answers. Defenses, they are always developing and that's when you see offenses might have that hiccup. How can we get better, how has this defense stopped us the last two weeks, what do we need to do to figure out to counterpunch that. That's one thing I love about Kliff. If he finds that something isn't working in a certain game, there is no hesitation – 'This isn't working, let's figure out how to get by and keep going.' "
-- Hopkins has played in MetLife Stadium three times in his career, gaining at least 100 yards in each of them (including earlier this year against the Jets). It'd be a nice time for Hopkins to get out of his own statistical funk and crack triple digits again.
-- Fun fact, although it ultimately doesn't mean a ton – if the Cards beat the Giants, it'll be the first time they will have swept the three New York teams in a season since 1971, which was only the second year the Bills and Jets were even in the NFL after their AFL tenure. (No, the Cards don't play all three in a season very often.)
-- On a personal note, because of NFL COVID restrictions (I am healthy, just saying), I will not be traveling with the team to New York. I'll be covering the game from here in Arizona, which is a bummer for me. The last time the Cardinals took the field and I was not in attendance, it was the Cards' Y2K finale in Green Bay to end the 1999 season. The streak will be snapped at 443 games.
But there is still a season ongoing, and a playoff push to cover. See you Sunday.