Blake Martinez did not practice at all on Friday, which did not seem to be a good sign for his availability two days later manning the middle of the Giants’ defense.
But there was Martinez on Sunday, starting at inside linebacker, taking his normal reps on defense as the Giants were beaten, 26-7, by the Cardinals at MetLife Stadium.
“I just focused on getting better each and every day and [showing] the coaches that I had the ability to go out there and perform at the level I know I could,’’ Martinez said. “I trusted myself to go out there, and I felt good for the majority of the game. Just need to make sure I keep working on it to make sure I’m ready for this week and the coming practices.’’
Martinez, the team leader in tackles this season, was not as active as he usually is, finishing with seven tackles.
CB James Bradberry did not get the assignment of shadowing WR DeAndre Hopkins all over the field, as the Giants stayed in their zone responsibilities. Hopkins caught nine passes for 136 yards but only got past the defense one time, a 41-yard reception in the fourth quarter behind linebacker Tae Crowder.
The Giants were much better a week ago, limiting DK Metcalf of the Seahawks.
“We didn’t do as good as last week containing DeAndre Hopkins, but I still think he didn’t really wreck the game for us,’’ Bradberry said. “We just had a few mistakes on him.’’
Rookie CB Darnay Holmes (knee) missed his second game of the season and was inactive. Holmes started the past three games and was coming on strong as the slot cornerback. The absence of Holmes opened the door for increased playing time for rookie Xavier McKinney, who played just 11 snaps on defense in his first two games after undergoing foot surgery and coming off injured reserve.
Former Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh, the Cardinals’ starting left guard, went out in the second half with a calf injury. Another former Giants player, LB Devon Kennard, had a stop for a one-yard loss on Alfred Morris early in the fourth quarter.
Rookie CB Jarren Williams, elevated off the practice squad, made his NFL debut, working on special teams. Williams played last season at the University at Albany.
The Cardinals (7-6) snapped a three-game losing streak to propel themselves back into the NFC wild-card race.
“Well, nothing beats winning,’’ Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “That’s a good team that had won four in a row. They were playing for first place, they had everything to play for as well, so to come in here and do it in that fashion, I believe, will build confidence moving forward.’’
The Giants finished 1-3 against the NFC West this season and scored a total of only one touchdown in losses to the Cardinals, 49ers and Rams. … The Cardinals have now won four straight on the Giants, winning all four times on the road.