Eagles-Giants rivalry heats up for home opener

PHILADELPHIA - September 25, 2011

"It's a lot of intensity, a lot of trash-talking and a lot of guys on the field that just hate each other," Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel said. "They just want to beat each other's head in. It's very competitive and has a long line of history behind it. It's an ongoing rivalry that has a lot to it."

While the labor lockout kept players off the practice field during the summer, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy and Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora were busy taking shots at each other on Twitter.

McCoy said Umenyiora was "overrated" and "soft" and ranked the two-time Pro Bowl pick as third best on New York's defensive line. Umenyiora retaliated by calling McCoy a "girl" and referred to him as Lady Gaga.

"I hate him, he hates me, period," Umenyiora told the Newark Star-Ledger in June. "There's a real hatred toward Philly and there's a real hatred for them toward us."

Umenyiora may not get a chance to tackle McCoy this week because he's still listed as day to day after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee early in training camp.

His absence won't decrease the animosity between the teams. Both clubs enter with a 1-1 record. The Eagles have won the last six meetings, including an incredible 38-31 comeback victory last December at the Meadowlands that helped them secure the NFC East title.

Michael Vick rallied Philadelphia from a 21-point deficit with 8:17 left, and the Eagles won it on DeSean Jackson's 65-yard punt return for a touchdown on the last play.

"It is what it is," Giants safety Antrel Rolle said. "It took place last year. It's not something that we might ever forget, but at the same time, it's a new year."

Rolle joined in on the trash-talking earlier in the week when he said in a radio interview he wants to cover Jackson one-on-one because he's done it before and "could handle it again."

Jackson had nothing to say about Rolle's boast, but wide receiver Jeremy Maclin took a jab at him and the rest of the Giants.

"A lot of times when people talk, they're either insecure or they're scared, so you guys choose," Maclin said. "It's a new year. We understand that we have to go out there and play. On the other hand, they have no business talking because they haven't done anything in the last six times. That speaks for itself. I don't know what he's trying to do, but he's not going to intimidate, not going to scare nobody in this locker room."

The Eagles are hoping Vick plays after suffering a concussion in the second half of a 35-31 loss at Atlanta. Vick practiced Thursday, and it appeared he would be ready to go unless he had a setback.

Of course, the Giants said they expect to face Vick instead of backups Mike Kafka and Vince Young. Coach Tom Coughlin said he didn't even plan to prepare for a different quarterback.

"He's the best player to give them an opportunity to play their best ball," Rolle said. "I'm the type of guy, I like going against the best. If I don't go against the best, a win's a win, we'll always take a win, but it's always better when they have their better guys on the field."

Other than Vick, the Eagles have been mostly healthy. The Giants, on the other hand, have been hit hard by injuries.

They just lost receiver Domenik Hixon for the rest of the season after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the 28-16 win over St. Louis. Wideout Mario Manningham sustained a concussion in that game, and his status is uncertain.

New York already lost starting cornerback Terrell Thomas and starting middle linebacker Jonathan Goff for the season with major knee injuries. Rookie defensive tackle Marvin Austin, the team's second-round draft pick, is also out for the year with a chest muscle problem.

"You keep going," quarterback Eli Manning said. "You keep preparing. If everything was easy and went perfectly, it kind of takes some of the fun out of it. It always makes it a great opportunity for some guys to step up and show what they're made of and how they can go out there and make plays."

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