Hillis, Cox get another crack vs. Eagles

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For the New York Giants, Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles is a chance to get back in the NFC East race.

For Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox, it's a second chance to make a first impression.

With Brandon Jacobs almost certainly out with a hamstring injury, Hillis and Cox will again share the carries on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Hillis and Cox combined for just 59 yards on 29 carries (2.0 yards per carry) Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings, but the passing game and defense propelled the Giants to a 23-7 victory.

The Giants will likely need more from their running game to take down the Eagles and their high-octane offense, ranked third in the NFL in yards per game (425.3).

Hillis, who was signed just five days before the Vikings game, was thrown right in the fire, with 18 carries for 36 yards. That's a lot of work for, and pounding on, a guy who'd been sitting at home since being cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in late September.

Hillis admitted Friday that he is still "a little sore" four days later. "I expect that it's gonna be here for a couple more weeks. But I've gotta work through it and try to produce."

He only averaged two yards per carry against the Vikings. But Hillis did have five catches for 45 yards out of the backfield, and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He also did a nice job in pass protection.

"I'm very proud of the effort that he put forth," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said Thursday. "The good thing is he's a bright young man and I think we had the good fortune that he had at least been exposed to our terminology, our system having been down in Tampa Bay. That certainly expedited the learning curve a little bit, but not everybody could have done what he did.

"I think the thing that was really impressive was the physicality that he brought to the game. He turned north-south on a couple of those catches. It's something we need as an offense. It's nice to be finesse. It's nice to throw the ball, but it's nice to show that physical prowess, too."

Cox, the team's seventh-round draft choice this past spring out of UMass, got his first NFL carries against the Vikings -- 11 of them. He only accumulated 23 yards, but gained some valuable experience in the process.

"I definitely feel my confidence rising a little bit having more experience and knowing what it's like already," Cox said Friday.

This may be Hillis' and Cox's final opportunity to prove they belong, at least this season. The Giants have their bye next week. The following week, Andre Brown is eligible to come off short-term injured reserve. And David Wilson may be back before the end of the season, too.

But for one more week, the Giants have no choice but to turn to these two.

Hillis is the veteran with the track record, having a 1,000-yard season with the Cleveland Browns three years ago on his résumé. Don't be surprised if he handles the bulk of the load.

He wasn't happy with his performance last week, but predicted better things to come.

"Especially me, when you get in the groove of things and start going through it bit-by-bit, day-by-day and week-by-week, you get slowly better," Hillis said. "I expect to do that. I expect that this Sunday is going to be a lot better."