Zimmer knows Giants; Kelly back

Updated 4:55 p.m.

Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer knows Gotham's Dynamic Duo all too well. While holding the same job in Dallas, the Cowboys were 2-4 against head coach Tom Coughlin's Giants and 2-3 against quarterback Eli Manning from 2004-2006.

Manning had an 83.2 passer rating in those games, but he completed only 53.6 of his passes while throwing eight touchdowns and five interceptions.

"He's improved tremendously," said Zimmer this week. "He throws the ball in the right places. He doesn't make poor throws like he used to. It wasn't that he tried to force it, but in certain situations he would make mistakes and he's not doing much of that anymore."

If any, Manning is engineering a balanced and potent offense ranked fourth overall in the NFL and fifth in rushing and 12th in passing.

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Zimmer

"They've got a lot of weapons; by far it's the best offense we've faced so far," Zimmer said. "The quarterback is playing real well. Big powerful backs. Excellent receivers and the offensive line is good. They don't have a weakness."

It's vintage Coughlin in the sense that the Giants pound the running game and possess the clock, but Zimmer is wary of their big-play potential as he goes into the game with possibly three of his four cornerbacks having played in a combined 11 NFL regular-season games.

"They've got a lot of different personnel groups," Zimmer said. "In second down they'll get in shotgun and run or throw it. They do a lot of check-with-mes at the line.

"They've lost (tight end Jeremy) Shockey but improved their wide receiver position. They've got four, five guys that are all pretty good. Six maybe. They've got more speed outside and they'll go three and four wides now."

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Tight end Reggie Kelly (head) returned to practice Thursday after watching Wednesday and went full go. Defensive tackle John Thornton (knee) went through drills at the beginning of practice after not participating Wednesday and was listed as "limited" Thursday.

Cornerback Johnathan Joseph (ankle) didn't work again and safeties Dexter Jackson (thumb) and Herana-Daze Jones (hamstring) didn't either. Tight end Ben Utecht (chest) also didn't work. Safety Chinedum Ndukwe (knee) went through the early drills Thursday and has been limited both days.

Jackson has already been ruled out and Joseph, Utecht and Jones look extremely questionable after missing two of the week's three practices.

If it's another day, it must mean a new injury for the secondary. On Thursday safety Kyries Hebert surfaced with a hamstring injury and went limited.

Giants cornerback R.W. McQuarters (calf), inactive the last game, hasn't worked this week. Right end Mathias Kiwanuka (ankle) was limited Thursday, as was cornerback Terrell Thomas (hamstring) and kicker Lawrence Tynes (knee).

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