D.J. Humphries wants to work himself into a lather on Sunday, and then unleash that pent-up fury on the poor edge rusher across from him.
But when it’s Markus Golden standing there for the Giants, the Cardinals’ left tackle will have to rely on technique, not emotion.
“As much as he’s my opponent and I want to be like (expletive) him, that’s my guy,” Humphries said. “Obviously when we’re on that grass we’re going to fight tooth and nail, but I’ve got so much love and respect for that dude.”
Humphries and Golden were the Cardinals’ top two draft picks in 2015. Even though he was the first-rounder, Humphries didn’t play as a rookie. That year was dark, and Golden was there to help pull him through it.
“I was very unsure as to what was going on and who I was,” Humphries said. “Markus was one of my peers who always was like, ‘Hey, I don’t care, bro. You’re still a beast. Don’t forget it.’ That was something he always helped me with, so I feel like I’m forever indebted to my guy M.G.”
Golden had 16½ sacks in his first two seasons with the Cardinals but a torn ACL minimized his production the final two years. He signed with the Giants as a free agent this offseason and has a team-leading five sacks.
“He has quickly become one of my favorite players,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “He’s into it. He’s competitive. He plays hard, and he has really had an impact on our defense.”
Humphries knows their battle will be an all-game affair.
“Win, lose or draw, he’s going to fight you to the end,” Humphries said. “They call him a junkyard dog for a reason.”
Golden is one of several players and coaches on the Giants with Cardinals ties. Safety Antoine Bethea leads the team in tackles, while defensive tackle Olsen Pierre and fullback Elijhaa Penny also have roles (outside linebacker Kareem Martin is on injured reserve.)
Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher held the same title for the Cardinals under Bruce Arians, and New York’s assistant special teams coach, Anthony Blevins, also worked in Arizona.
“It’s like playing against your cousins from across town that you see at the family reunion once a year,” Humphries said. “It’s going to be cool.”
MAX GARCIA PRACTICES FOR FIRST TIME
On Wednesday, guard Max Garcia took the field for the first time since tearing his ACL last November with the Broncos. He is on the physically unable to perform list and must be activated or placed on injured reserve within three weeks.
Garcia, who is expected to be an interior depth piece when healthy, said he feels good physically and believes he will be activated at some point.
“I feel like we did it the right way, as far as me feeling ready to go,” Garcia said. “I feel ready, as much as possible. I think I’m there. Obviously I’ve got to take live reps and work back into football shape, but as far as staying in shape and doing things in the weight room, that’s all I’ve been doing for the past 11 months.”
Garcia, who signed a one-year deal in March, is glad he can start proving his worth to his new team.
“I was just talking to somebody about how long I’ve been on the team without actually being on the field,” Garcia said. “It was an interesting dynamic. A lot of guys wanted to see how I do on the field, how I play. I’m glad they were able to see that side of me a little bit, finally.”
ANKLE INJURY SIDELINES DAVID JOHNSON
Running back David Johnson did not practice, and an ankle injury was the culprit. Johnson played through a back ailment on Sunday, but that injury was not listed on Wednesday’s injury report.
The others who missed practice were tight end Maxx Williams (ankle), defensive end Zach Allen (neck), safety Chris Banjo (illness), defensive tackle Zach Kerr (ankle), tackle Brett Toth (illness) and linebacker Ezekiel Turner (hamstring).
Wide receiver Christian Kirk was limited with his high-ankle sprain, and coach Kliff Kingsbury was noncommittal about his availability for Sunday. Linebacker Dennis Gardeck (ankle), punter Andy Lee (hip) and safety Charles Washington (shoulder) were also limited. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and defensive tackle Corey Peters were given rest days.
For the Giants, running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and tight end Evan Engram (knee) practiced fully and should be back for the game, provided there are no setbacks. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion), Pierre (concussion) and running back Wayne Gallman (concussion) were limited, while cornerback Corey Ballentine (concussion) did not practice.
Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders performing on Sunday at State Farm Stadium