Giants stretched thin on defensive line

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
7:30
PM ET
New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is dealing with a serious shoulder injury that kept him off the field for the majority of the Week 12 game against the Cowboys and the entirety of the Week 13 game against the Redskins. That pattern indicates that there's at least a chance that Pierre-Paul could be shut down for the final four games of the Giants' season, even though Giants coach Tom Coughlin sounds as though the team is resisting that.

Pierre-Paul
"I don't think it's in that position," Coughlin said Monday on a conference call. "We really don't know what his status will be this week until we get a little bit closer to Wednesday. He hasn't done anything in a week. He's been treated, and he's rested, and hopefully there's going to be some progress made and we'll see what that looks like when we get to practice."

One of the consequences of Pierre-Paul's injury is, somewhat obviously, more work for the other defensive ends on the Giants' roster. The team isn't super-deep at the position, so Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka played 100 percent of the defensive snaps Sunday night against the Redskins (who ran 68 offensive plays). Rookie Damontre Moore got on the field for 17 snaps, with Tuck moving to defensive tackle on those plays, and the team also feels comfortable sliding defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins out to play end. So that's basically the rotation if Pierre-Paul can't make it back.

It's a lot, especially for Kiwanuka, who also plays on special teams. But Tuck believes they could tough it out for a month if they needed to.

"I think we can," Tuck said on his own Monday conference call. "One thing we've been able to do all season is keep our bodies in great shape, staying on top of things in the weight room, making sure we're eating the right things. I think we're in good shape to go. Obviously, playing that many snaps does break your body down a little bit moreso than the normal amount of snaps we play. But I think we're up for the challenge and we're looking forward to it."

It may not be a coincidence that, in this high-workload game, Tuck had his best statistical performance in a quite a while. After collecting four sacks all of last year and 2.5 in the first 11 games this year, Tuck sacked Robert Griffin III four times on Sunday night.

"It was fun, being out there the whole time," Tuck said. "It allows you to get in a rhythm, and I think I kind of benefited from it in some regard. Obviously, my body isn't agreeing with that right now, but it was fun last night."

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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