October 9, 2020 | 2:42am
The best offensive line Leonard Williams faced last season looks very different now.
For that matter, so does he.
Williams has two sacks in four games this season — four times as many as in 15 games last season — and leads the Giants with four quarterback hurries. He is trending toward his most productive season since making the Pro Bowl with the Jets in 2016.
“I’ve been playing good, but I don’t think I’m playing at a crazy higher level than I have in the past,” Williams said. “I’ve been playing the same way I have [against] the run since I’ve been in the league. In these first few games, I’ve just been able to make the sack count instead of [settling for] those quarterback hits.”
Williams spent time with former All-Pro defensive lineman Richard Seymour in the offseason, but said the biggest difference in his game is increased confidence and a mentality to attack instead of react.
“My game hasn’t changed too much,” Williams said. “I get a lot of noise in the media, but I’m always around the quarterback since I’ve been in the league. Every once in a while, that one second goes in your favor instead of the opposite favor.”
Williams faced the Cowboys twice last season — once pre-trade with the Jets — and called it the best offensive line he faced. But center Travis Frederick retired in the offseason and left tackle Tyron Smith (neck) could be out for the season, which would even the playing field in the trenches that has favored the Cowboys during the Giants’ six-game losing streak in the rivalry. Smith and center Joe Looney did not practice Thursday.
“They definitely still have some good guys up front, but there’s been some moving parts this year,” Williams said. “[Smith] is the one who has been there the longest and is a solidified great, All-Pro left tackle. We noticed on film that he was dealing with an injury.”
Safeties Jabrill Peppers (ankle) and Adrian Colbert (neck) and LB Kyler Fackrell (neck) were limited participants Thursday in Giants practice. OLB Oshane Ximines (shoulder) was held out.
Judge said before practice “everyone is a possibility” to play against the Cowboys, including Peppers, who has missed the last seven quarters.
“It was definitely nice to have him back,” WR Golden Tate said of Peppers. “Just glad to see him out there and his [vocal] personality.”
The Giants are well aware of the “watermelon kick” the Cowboys used for an onside recovery in Week 2 against the Falcons.
“I think they have seen it 100 times, between ESPN, NFL Network and tape,” special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said. “We’re always trying to be on top of that stuff and don’t get caught off guard.”
Do the Giants have anything similar in the playbook to help spark a winless team?
“Everybody has options: We can go crazy, we can get as plain as you want,” McGaughey said. “Graham Gano is a pretty good kicker. We have some stuff up our sleeve.”