EAST RUTHERFORD — James Bettcher of the Giants is the “Mad Hatter” of NFL defensive coordinators. If you flood the field with receivers, he responds with a stream of defensive backs.

In the chess game of competing coordinator play, Bettcher rarely has any unused knights.

So, expect a lot of Giants wearing No. 20s and 30s to be on the field Sunday when Bettcher tries to contain Tampa Bay’s highly-productive passing attack.

“I love to get defensive backs on the field,” Bettcher said Thursday. “The game has become so horizontal.”

And more challenging.

Unless the Giants come up with a better pass rush, the onus will be on their secondary to stop former Jet Ryan Fitzpatrick, who’s thrown 17 touchdown passes, from lighting up the scoreboard. Fitzpatrick threw for 406 yards against Washington last week, but the losing Buccaneers produced only three points.

There are plenty of stats to back up the notion that the Buccaneers are a dangerous offense. They are first in the NFL in yards per game (452.8); first in passing yards per game (375.6), and fourth in yards per play (6.63).

Fitzpatrick has a stable of dangerous receivers. From the big-play threat of DeSean Jackson, to the steady pass catching of 6-foot-5 Mike Evans, to second-year tight end O.J. Howard, an emerging star, the Buccaneers, although they’re 3-6, have Bettcher walking the floor at night this week.

There are times when the Buccaneers are not very subtle.

“They’re going to try to lull you to sleep with the run and the screen (pass),” said cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who’ll be often matched up with Jackson, who Jenkins calls the fastest receiver in the league. “But they’re going to go deep. You know they’re going to go deep.”

Other times, Evans, Howard and Cameron Brate, another tight end who has 20 career TD receptions, are running medium crossing routes. Plus wide receivers Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries give offensive coordinator Todd Monken more chips for his running battle with Bettcher.

“They’ve got a lot of options,” said strong safety Landon Collins.

Collins is one of Bettcher’s options, even though the Monday Night announcers raked him over the coals for his play against the 49ers.

“I love the matchup with him against the great tight ends,” Bettcher said.

Collins has a busy second half of the season. After Howard on Sunday, his future assignments include Zach Ertz of the Eagles and Trey Burton of the Bears, among others.

“I get to play against the best tight ends in the game,” Collins said. “I’m always up for the challenge.”

Just like his coordinator.

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Jonathan Stewart coming back?

Veteran running back Jonathan Stewart’s season may not be over.

The Giants have designated Stewart, who practiced Thursday, to return from injured reserve, meaning they have 21 days to decide whether they want to activate him or not. It was thought that Stewart’s season was over when he suffered a foot injury after playing in only three games, gaining 17 yards on six carries.

After 10 years as a Carolina Panther, Stewart signed a two-year, $6.8 million contract, of which $3.45 million is guaranteed, with the Giants to be rookie Saquon Barkley’s back-up and mentor.

The possibility the Giants might activate Stewart is further proof the team is not satisfied with the play of second-year runner Wayne Gallman, whose playing time has been reduced in recent games.

Local connections

Buccaneerss quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian is a native of River Vale and pro scout Shane Scannell is a native of Mahwah.