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The Cardinals arrive Sunday at MetLife Stadium with three former Giants players, one of whom — outside linebacker Markus Golden — was with the Giants earlier this season.
Golden was traded Oct. 23 back to Arizona, where he started his NFL career, the Giants getting back a 2021 sixth-round draft pick. Golden had 1.5 sacks in seven games for the Giants, but he was used infrequently on defense, often getting just one-third of the snaps. He has one sack in five games for the Cardinals and has played 75 percent of the snaps the past four games.
Strong side linebacker Devon Kennard, a Giants fifth-round pick in 2014, starts for the Cardinals and has 11 tackles and two sacks. Justin Pugh, the Giants’ first-round pick in 2013, is the Cardinals’ starting left guard.
“They’ve been awesome,’’ Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “All three are leaders on this team, high character guys, bring it every day at work, couldn’t be more impressed by what they brought. Just getting Markus here a couple weeks ago, he showed up, as you all know he’s high energy, loves to play ball, and so he’s brought a lot of juice to that defense. And then Pugh’s been one of our steadiest players since I got here, does a tremendous job leading that offensive line group. DK being with us has been great. First-class guys all the way around.’’
It is rare to rotate offensive linemen in a game, but the Giants and Cardinals have adopted that unusual course of action. Rookie Matt Peart usually subs in at right tackle for veteran Cam Fleming and veteran Will Hernandez, an erstwhile starter, gets a few series at left guard in place of rookie Shane Lemieux.
“I think the old-school school of thought is you want to have five guys operating as one unit on the offensive line, whereas the defensive line you’re trying to keep guys fresh,’’ coach Joe Judge said. “We’re rotating a lot of our offensive linemen right now. We’ve taken that approach in terms of No. 1, developing as many players as we can. No. 2, keeping guys as fresh as we can so that throughout the course of the game, we feel that we’re better prepared. I don’t know if that’s their reason for it. It’s working for them, they’re doing a good job, they’re developing a lot of players, and they’ve been effective. These guys protect the quarterback as well as anybody in the league.’’
The Giants last week in Seattle broke a seven-game losing streak when trailing at halftime. They were down 5-0 to the Seahawks after two quarters. … The streak is up to 16 consecutive games, dating back to last season, with at least one sack for the Giants. That is the NFL’s fourth-longest active streak. … CB Jarren Williams, rookie from the University at Albany, will be elevated to the active roster from the practice squad as a replacement for Madre Harper, who went on injured reserve this week.