Saturday 23 September 2017

Giants bid to warm up for NFL's big freeze

NFL

Quarterback Eli Manning is one of the few New York Giants players to have experienced the minus 14 Celsius temperatures anticipated for tomorrow's play-off clash with the Green Bay Packers. Photo: USA Today Sports
Quarterback Eli Manning is one of the few New York Giants players to have experienced the minus 14 Celsius temperatures anticipated for tomorrow's play-off clash with the Green Bay Packers. Photo: USA Today Sports

Larry Fine

Freezing conditions are forecast for tomorrow's play-off clash between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants on the tundra of Lambeau Field in Wisconsin, and there is not much players can do to prepare.

"You know you're going to freeze your butt off," said Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who played his college football at the University of Wisconsin.

Temperatures of about minus 14 Celsius are expected for the Wild-Card showdown on the first weekend of the National Football League play-offs.

"You've got to be mentally preparing yourself for a cold that you have never felt, so mentally you don't defeat yourself," said Casillas.

"I don't think anyone here has played in that temperature before other than Eli (quarterback Manning) and (long snapper Zak) DeOssie," he added, referring to veterans of the face-numbing 2007 NFC title game won in Green Bay by the Giants.

Rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard said coaches were trying to get pass catchers prepared.

"They're putting the ball in freezers, bringing different balls out just because the ball will be a little bit harder," Shepard said.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers does not see the weather as a difference maker.

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"Both teams are fine playing in the cold weather. But it definitely is a wrinkle," he said. "There is a premium on ball security when the weather gets cold and if there's any type of precipitation or wind."

Casillas said players would use ointment or lotion to help keep their skin warm, wear double gloves, double socks, keep hand warmers going and stand near the heaters on the sidelines. But competitive fire was the best antidote.

"Adrenalin is the number one factor, absolutely," said Casillas. "I feel for the coaches and guys on the sidelines. They don't have adrenalin on their side like we do."

Meanwhile, London-born Jay Ajayi will be a key figure as the Miami Dolphins tackle the Pittsburgh Steelers in their AFC Wild Card play-off tomorrow.

The running back has enjoyed a stunning breakout season for the Dolphins, taking over after injury forced Arian Foster into retirement and responding with eight touchdowns and over 1,200 yards, including three 200-yard games.

The first of those came in week six, with 206 yards and two touchdowns against the same opponents awaiting his side tomorrow.

TV schedule

(all Sky Sports 1)

Today

Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans (9.0)

Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks (1.0)

Tomorrow

Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers (5.30)

NY Giants @ Green Bay Packers (9.30)

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