Beat-up Giants scramble just to conduct practice
The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - New York Giants - INSIDE SLANT
Tom Coughlin has more pressing matters - beginning with finding healthy bodies.
The Giants were missing almost 19 percent of their 53-man roster Wednesday as they began preparations for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions, forcing Coughlin to alter his practice plans.
"It will be adjusted," he said. "We'll do half speed work and half jog-thru. We'll get all the learning in, but probably half of the speed stuff."
With a little bit of luck, Coughlin said, the team hopes to get back three or four of those key players who missed Wednesday's session, though he joked when asked which players might return.
"Wanna roll the dice?" he said.
Upon closer inspection of the team's injury report, there are three areas that could potentially create issues for the Giants if the players in question aren't able to go.
The first is at receiver, as Victor Cruz (concussion/knee) and Jerrel Jernigan (knee) are both banged up to the point where the team promoted Julian Talley from the practice squad as backup depth.
Cruz is unlikely to play this week, even if he passes the concussion protocol and returns to practice.
"He's going through the concussion protocol, but he does have a knee that will probably prevent him from doing anything," Coughlin said of Cruz.
Jernigan, who last week led the team with receptions (seven) and receiving yards (67) is also the team's kickoff returner.
If he can't go against the Lions, the Giants could look to cornerback Charles James to handle the kickoff return duties as well as the punt return duties, the latter of which are currently handled by receiver Rueben Randle, who figures to have a bigger role in the offense this weekend.
At running back, Peyton Hillis has yet to pass the concussion protocol and his status for Sunday in question.
With Brandon Jacobs on injured reserve, the Giants might be forced to go with a rotation of Andre Brown and Michael Cox, with Brown getting the bulk of the planned rushes. Fullback John Conner, who has had a few touches at the NFL level but who has yet to carry the ball for the Giants, could also be an option in an emergency.
The biggest worry, though, is on the offensive line, where guards David Diehl and James Brewer are both nursing injuries. As it is, the offensive line hasn't played well as a whole all season. Diehl, who was held out Wednesday due to some swelling he experienced in his knee during the game, might have a better chance of being in the lineup on Sunday.
Brewer is another story, though in his case he has struggled so badly that even if he was healthy the coaches might go in another direction. If Brewer can't play, presumably the Giants would stick with Brandon Mosley, who relieved Brewer last week, at the left guard spot.
"We've got to regroup and compete like heck, and play much better and do a better job at protecting the quarterback," Coughlin said.
The status of the offensive line naturally raised a question regarding whether Coughlin might consider sitting quarterback Eli Manning, who has started 149 consecutive games.
"We've talked about this," Coughlin said. "He wants to play. He looks forward to playing competing and having a better game. I wouldn't expect any different.
Despite the precarious injury situation at key positions, Coughlin's expectations of his team this weekend are no different now than they were earlier in the season.
"I expect us to prepare well and to go up (to Detroit) with the idea of competing and doing the best we possibly can, (and) find a way to win."
SERIES HISTORY: 41st regular-season meeting. Lions lead series, 20-19-1. New York is 8-13-1 at Detroit, but have won two out of the last three games during the Tom Coughlin era, including the last two in a row. The two teams last met on Oct. 17, 2010, a 28-20 Giants' win in at MetLife Stadium. The Lions have outscored the Giants in regular-season games 672-588.
NFL Team Report - New York Giants - NOTES, QUOTES
--One of the bright spots to emerge for the Giants this season has been the play of rookie defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, their second-round draft pick this year.
"It took a while to get him active, but he's made some progress," said head coach Tom Coughlin.
Hankins, who has played in nine games this season, has accumulated 14 tackles, two tackles for a loss, and two quarterback hits.
"He had a couple of good plays the other day. He's a young guy who's coming along and learning how to play in this league," said Coughlin of the 6-2, 320-pound Hankins.
"He made some errors but he did make a couple of nice aggressive plays."
Hankins admitted that it was tough waiting his turn to play, but in retrospect, he's glad that his rookie year has unfolded the way it has.
"We have a great defensive line, and I learned a lot by watching them. Once I got my chance to go out there and play, I kind of knew what to do, how to react and that really helped benefit me on the field."
One of the biggest lessons Hankins said he learned was to curb his anxiousness.
"I would say being patient on the field, not always trying to make a play or jumpy a snap," he said. "Do your job and the plays you have to make will come to you."
With the plays starting to come to him, Hankins, who usually lines up next to Mike Patterson in the defensive interior rotation, said the next step is for him to continue to take advantage of his opportunities.
"I just want to show the coaching staff that I know the plays, that they can have confidence to put me out there to do my job," he said. "If I can just finish out the season doing that, then I feel like maybe they'll be more confident in me going into next year."
--During a conference call with reporters, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was asked about the Giants defensive backs.
Turns out that he stumbled over the pronunciation of Prince Amukamara's name, and didn't even know Trumaine McBride's name.
If the Giants corners were offended by Johnson's remarks, they didn't let on.
"It's just words really," said Amukamara. "I can't really comment much about it because I didn't hear the interview, but he's a great wide receiver, and they have a great quarterback, and it's going to be a great challenge for us."
McBride also shrugged when told of Johnson not knowing his name.
"Last year I was out of the league. I haven't done much," he said. "So it doesn't bother me that he doesn't know me. It's not a big deal."
What is a big deal to both Amukamara and McBride, both of whom are likely to line up across from Johnson at various point on Sunday is that they keep the 6-5 receiver from burning them with his big-play making ability.
"I know I can't jump with him, so it doesn't make sense for me to try that," the 5-9 McBride said when asked about the challenges of facing Johnson.
"What does make more sense to do is play his hands when he's coming down and try to knock the ball out. That's one of the things I can do."
McBride added that there is no reason for the Giants cornerbacks to be intimidated by Johnson or his big-play making ability.
"We're all players, we're all me and we're all at this level for a reason. He can make plays, but I can make plays also.
"He's a great wide receiver. We just have to watch film to see what he doesn't do well and just take advantage of that," he added.
--Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul continues to be conflicted over his desire to play again this season and his desire to avoid the risk of needing surgery on his ailing shoulder.
"At the end of the day, I'm not a quitter," Pierre-Paul said. "I'm going to try my best to be out there with my teammates."
At the same time, Pierre-Paul knows that he has to be smart with his injury because he believes that if he stays the course and continues to rehab his injury, he will avoid the need for surgery.
"I think I'm doing pretty good in my rehabbing and just getting better on that injury," he said. "I don't really want to have surgery unless it's called for it. I think with me rehabbing and staying on schedule, that I won't need surgery."
Pierre-Paul, who admitted that if he played again and made his shoulder worse that surgery would then become a necessity, said that he has a full range of motion in his ailing joint, but that he doesn't have the full strength necessary to push and fight blockers.
"I can't go out there and defend myself so if I can't do that, then there's no reason for me to be out there playing," he said. "I play defense and I deliver a blow.
"I'm not going to put myself in a predicament where I go out there and then I have my teammates looking at me crazy. If you're not well enough to play, you should be on the sideline. I'm trying to get back out there though.
BY THE NUMBERS: 12 - Number of players the Giants currently have on injured reserve. The list includes six starters: offensive linemen David Baas and Chris Snee; fullback Henry Hynoski; cornerback Corey Webster; safety Stevie Brown; and running back David Wilson.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Anyone who comes through the door, we'll be more than happy to wrap our arms around." -- Head coach Tom Coughlin when asked which of his 10 injured players he thought he might have for Sunday.
NFL Team Report - New York Giants - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Giants' decision to place cornerback Corey Webster on injured reserve comes as no surprise, as despite being able to practice on a limited basis for several weeks, the handwriting was on the wall for Webster after Trumaine McBride took over the starting job and after Jayron Hosley acquitted himself well as the backup.
As a result of the transaction, the Giants promoted receiver Julian Talley to the 53-man roster. Talley's promotion serves as insurance in case fellow UMass alumnus Victor Cruz (conclusion/knee) can't finish out the season.
--RB Kendall Gaskins, who was previously with the Bills, was signed to the Giants practice squad. Gaskins had worked out for the Giants several weeks ago.
--LG James Brewer (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday, but could be one of the players that head coach Tom Coughlin said he was hopeful of having later in the week.
--WR Victor Cruz (concussion/knee) did not practice on Wednesday and is not expected to play on Sunday.
--RG David Diehl (knee) was held out of practice on Wednesday, but will reportedly try to work on Thursday. Diehl said he experienced some swelling in his knee last week, but didn't think he'd have to miss Sunday's game.
--RB Peyton Hillis (concussion) was not present at Wednesday's practice, as he has not passed the concussion protocol. His status for Sunday is unknown at this point.
--DT Cullen Jenkins (shin/quad) didn't practice on Wednesday, but he could be back in the lineup on Thursday. Jenkins is going on his second week with this injury and was able to play last week.
--WR Jerrel Jernigan (knee) did not work on Wednesday. His status for Sunday is a question mark.
--CB Trumaine McBride (groin) did not practice on Wednesday, but could be back later in the week on a limited basis. McBride has been playing with a groin injury for several weeks now.
--DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) did not practice on Wednesday and is unlikely to play on Sunday.
--S Cooper Taylor (hamstring) is not expected to practice or play this week.
--CB Terrell Thomas (knee) did not practice Wednesday but is expected to work in a limited basis on Thursday and Friday.
GAME PLAN: The Giants' turnover-prone offense is in a complete state of shambles right now. Quarterback Eli Manning has no time to scan the field and often times cannot step into his throws due to having one of his pass blockers being walked back into his lap.
As a result, Manning, who last week topped his single-season career high in interceptions (25) has been sacked 36 times, also a career high.
The running game, which is averaging 83.5 yards per game has sputtered so badly that barring a surge in this average, it will be their lowest season-long average since they rushed for 76.9 yards a game in 1945.
All of that spells trouble for a Giants offense that will face an aggressive Lions defense. The Lions have the fourth-best run defense and are allowing opponents an average of 98.6 yards per game.
They also have the top-ranked defense against third downs, an area of struggle for the Giants, who are ranked 30th in the league in converting third downs.
If the Giants are going to have a shot this week, they're going to have force the turnover-prone Lions offense into making some mistakes. Against the Ravens on Monday night, quarterback Matthew Stafford boosted his season interception total to 17 after tossing three in his last game.
He hass also thrown at least one interception in five of his last six games, three of which featuring multiple interceptions. That might bode well for the Giants, who are tied for 16th (with the Lions and two other teams) with 13 interceptions this season.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Giants defensive line vs. Lions offensive line. The Lions' offensive line has only allowed 16 sacks this season, which is pretty impressive considering they have a pair of rookies on the right side in guard Larry Warford and tackle LaAdrian Waddle who have started the last seven games as a tandem. It will be interesting to see how this rookie dup holds up against defensive end Justin Tuck and defensive tackle Linval Joseph, the left side of the Giants defensive line, which has been playing some of its best ball over the last five weeks. Tuck has 7.5 sacks in his last four games, as he looks for his fifth game in a row with at least a half-sack.
Giants CBs Prince Amukamara and Trumaine McBride vs. Lions WR Calvin Johnson. Both the 6-foot Amukamara and the 5-9 McBride have been a solid duo in coverage this season. However, the 6-5 Johnson's size could be a potential nightmare for smaller cornerbacks, as Megatron isn't afraid to fight back if a corner dares to try to impede his release off the line of scrimmage. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will likely see to it that Amukamara draws Johnson; if that is the case, it will be important for Amukamara to get his hands on Johnson every chance he gets to try to slow him down.