New York Giants: Jim Cordle

After a dizzying Sunday and Monday, things quieted down around the New York Giants on Tuesday. They signed former New York Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham, though maybe just as a favor to an old friend. It would be a surprise if that ended up being an impact move given his health issues, but I'm sure it's a low-cost gamble unlikely to hurt them even if he can't play.

But that was it for Tuesday, and with their salary cap room drying up due to their 18 free-agent signings so far, the Giants are likely to slow down a bit here. They still need help in the pass rush and in the passing game, but it's looking more and more likely that they'll seek that help in the draft, which is still seven weeks away. Meantime, they will bargain-hunt and tinker as they continue to work on the major roster rebuild this offseason has brought about.

Here's a look at a few things that still may be on the horizon:
  • Defensive line help: As of now, the pass-rushers are Jason Pierre-Paul (who's had major injury issues for two years in a row), Mathias Kiwanuka (better used as a rotational player than a starting defensive end) and Damontre Moore (a talented, high-motor project who didn't see the field much as a rookie in 2013). The Giants are startlingly thin at a position that has been their championship calling card. They briefly agreed to terms last week with free agent O'Brien Schofield for pass-rush help, but they failed him on his physical due to knee issues. He hasn't signed elsewhere, so they could theoretically go back to that well, but it seems unlikely. They looked at Anthony Spencer over the weekend, but his knee may not be ready in time either. I don't see them having the cap space for Jared Allen, who's on the wrong side of 30 for them anyway, and the remainder of the pass-rusher market is a bunch of Corey Wootton/Robert Ayers-type flotsam. Do they spend that No. 12 draft pick on a pass-rusher like Anthony Barr in May? Or do they really go with what little they have in this critical area? Dangerous to try that. You can make your secondary as strong as you want, but if you can't force the quarterback to throw the ball when and where he doesn't want to throw it, it won't matter much.
  • Receivers: I am well aware that Hakeem Nicks and tight end Brandon Myers were lousy in 2013. I still find it hard to believe that losing both of them and adding only Manningham to Eli Manning's corps of pass-catchers is the way to fix the offense. Victor Cruz gets paid liked a No. 1 receiver and produces numbers like one, but he struggled with double-coverage in 2013 due to the lack of other options, and the Giants need someone who can win physical matchups all the way down the field. We've written a lot about the possibility of a pass-catcher like Texas A&M wideout Mike Evans or North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron at No. 12, and that may well be the best way to go at this point. The best remaining wide receivers on the market (Santonio Holmes? Miles Austin?) come with major question marks, and the best tight end, Jermichael Finley, does as well.
  • Center: Kevin Boothe signed with the Raiders on Monday, which shook up the Giants' plans a little bit. Not because Boothe is the second coming of Mike Webster or anything like that, but because he was to be their insurance policy at center in the likely event that this weird gamble they're taking with J.D. Walton doesn't work out. Now they're stuck with Walton or Dallas Reynolds unless they sign back Jim Cordle, who himself is no perfect solution. The offensive line was the most significant problem the 2013 Giants had, and new left guard Geoff Schwartz notwithstanding, it's hard to see how they've upgraded it enough. The middle rounds of the draft could offer a chance to draft a center like Florida State's Bryan Stork, and there still are some interesting, experienced names on the free-agent wire at the position. If the price for someone like Brian De La Puente or Ryan Wendell is right, they could still make a pre-draft move there and get deeper along the line as they must.
  • More relief? Kiwanuka's massive pay cut helped with the most recent signings, but there aren't too many more candidates on the roster for that kind of restructure. They could look into extending Antrel Rolle beyond 2014 and reducing his $9.25 million cap number in the process. Rolle is 31, though, and the only one of the Giants' 18 free-agent signings so far that's over 30 is kicker Josh Brown. Committing long-term to Rolle would seem to veer from the March 2014 plan. But he is one of their captains, and with Justin Tuck gone they could decide he's worth making an exception. The big elephant in the contract room, though, is Manning, whose 2014 cap number of $20.4 million is the third-highest in the league. They could reduce that with an extension of his current deal, which runs through 2015, but the Giants don't seem inclined to commit to Manning beyond 2015 at this point. They're a bit concerned with the possibility that he's in decline, and they'd like to see some 2014 proof otherwise before making that big long-term bet. A Manning extension would create the financial freedom for the Giants to acquire anyone they want, but it does not appear to be in the cards.
So in addition to the 23 unrestricted free agents they have, the New York Giants have four restricted free agents. And in advance of Tuesday's start of the free-agent market, the Giants are taking care of some business with regard to at least three of those four.

Per fitness enthusiast Eb Samuel of the New York Daily News, the Giants have decided to put a right-of-first-refusal tender of $1.431 million on linebacker Spencer Paysinger. This allows the Giants to match any offer Paysinger might get on the open market and establishes what they'll pay him if he doesn't get any. The risk is that they forfeit the right to draft-pick compensation if they lose Paysinger to another team (since they'd be making the choice to do so), but Paysinger isn't likely to draw much interest. This basically allows the Giants to budget for a guy they'd be happy to start at one of their outside linebacker spots but aren't averse to replacing if they find better options.

Earlier in the week, the Giants decided not to tender fullback Henry Hynoski or center Jim Cordle. That doesn't mean those guys are gone; simply that they can be free agents if they so choose. The Giants like fullback John Conner, and would bring back Hynoski to compete with him in camp at a very low price, but they've decided they're OK if Hynoski wants to look elsewhere. Likewise, they don't hate Cordle, but as they work on rebuilding the interior of their offensive line, they recognize him as a replaceable backup piece.

The Giants' other restricted free agent is linebacker Mark Herzlich, who likely isn't a huge priority unless they fail to re-sign Jon Beason and can't find any other options on the market at middle linebacker. We all know the Giants don't spend big on linebacker, so if they fail to sign Beason, it's unlikely they'd spend big to replace him. They might decide to give Herzlich another shot and, if he doesn't work out, find someone during the season the way they got Beason for a seventh-round pick in early October last year. But I think they'll sign Beason and it'll be moot.

Giants must juggle offensive line again

November, 27, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It has been going on since the preseason. The New York Giants, due to injuries along the offensive line, have repeatedly had to reconfigure their starting five at those crucial positions. A season-ending knee injury to center Jim Cordle, who'd been filling in for injured center David Baas, is the latest issue to be resolved.

As of now, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday, the team will stick to the arrangement it used Sunday when Cordle had to leave the game against the Cowboys. Kevin Boothe moves from left guard to center, and James Brewer comes off the bench to start at left guard. Boothe has no problem with the move. He says he takes practice reps at center anyway, and he's played it in games for the Giants as well. Brewer is the question mark.

"My plan is to make the most of it and play well," Brewer said. "I already played before. I started against Dallas in the first game and against Kansas City at right guard. I've already done it. For me, it's to show the coaching staff I'm the right man for the job."

There's pretty much nothing behind Brewer on the depth chart at this point, so unlike the spot starts to which he referred, this is likely to be a longer-term audition. The Giants have five games left, and unless there's another injury or he's completely incompetent, Brewer looks likely to start all five.

The new alignment looked very good as a run-blocking unit Sunday, when the Giants racked up more than 200 rushing yards against the Cowboys. But they know they have to play a more complete game together and do a better job of blocking for Eli Manning and the passing game.

"We have to make sure we do a better job of protecting Eli and give him enough time," left tackle Will Beatty said. "We all work together in practice and in the meeting rooms, so it's not a big change with a new guy to my right or to Kevin's left. We just have to make sure we're still all communicating."

Beatty and rookie Justin Pugh have started every game at the tackle positions, but the interior of the line has seen a great deal of upheaval, with David Diehl having replaced the injured Chris Snee at right guard and the shuffling as mentioned at left guard and center. As a result, the Giants have often found themselves vulnerable to interior pass-rush pressure from opponents. That's not likely to change, even with people lining up at different positions. The task will remain the same, and likely not more or less challenging as a result of the shifts.

"It's unfortunate that Jim went down," Boothe said. "But we have worked too many different combinations in practice for anyone to think it's going to be a big problem to adjust."

Big Blue Morning: Woe-line

November, 27, 2013
11/27/13
8:00
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Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants

The news of the day: The Giants placed center Jim Cordle on season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury. Since Cordle was playing in place of starting center David Baas, and Baas is also on injured reserve, this sends the Giants to Plan C at center. And no, the fact that "center" begins with "C" does not make it all okay. The most likely arrangement is Kevin Boothe moving from left guard to center and James Brewer taking over at left guard, which is what the Giants did Sunday when Cordle left the game. But that is neither certain nor ideal, and it's possible the Giants have some other plan of which we'll learn today. Either way, it's not likely to help with the problems they're having against the interior pass rush. The line did a heck of a job blocking for the run Sunday, but they need to find some way to keep the defense off of Eli Manning better than they have. On a marginally related note, I cannot wait to hear what Hakeem Nicks has to say today.

Behind enemy lines: As poorly as this season has gone for the Giants, it's gone worse for the Washington Redskins, the team they'll face Sunday night. Mike Shanahan has one year left on his contract as the Redskins' coach and is spending much of his time these days defending the work he's done in the first four.

Around the division: Eagles coach Chip Kelly officially named Nick Foles the team's starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. As Phil Sheridan writes, the decision was an obvious one based on the numbers Foles has put up in his five games since stepping in for the injured Michael Vick. Now, Kelly gets to find out how Foles operates knowing he's the guy, as Kelly continues to try to figure out whether he'll need to go quarterback shopping in the offseason or if he already has his answer.

Around the league: Drug suspensions don't just hurt the suspended players. They hurt their teams. Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate is 100 percent right when he says the drug violations that will cost his teammates significant time are the results of selfishness. The Seahawks have the best record in the league and the biggest of dreams. That program needs to run a little bit tighter, no?
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In the New York Giants' Week 11 victory over the Green Bay Packers, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had the game-changing interception and return for a touchdown. After that game, he spoke of "putting it on" the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12 and predicted blood would be spilled. But in Sunday's disappointing Giants' loss to the Cowboys, Pierre-Paul was on the field for only 30 of a possible 68 defensive plays. The shoulder injury that has been bothering him for several weeks now was apparently a larger issue Sunday than it had been the week before.

Pierre-Paul
"No doubt, it's a factor," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of Pierre-Paul's injury. "He's been playing injured. He's been playing with it."

Coughlin seemed to indicate Pierre-Paul would continue playing in spite of the injury, though that obviously remains to be seen. And the amount Pierre-Paul will be able to play -- not to mention his effectiveness -- appears as though it will be determined at least in part by how he tolerates the pain he's having from week to week. It's a disappointing midseason setback for a player who had back surgery in June and was admittedly not himself for the first couple of months of the season. Just when Pierre-Paul's back began to feel better, a new injury came up. He collected just his second sack of the season two weeks ago against Oakland and injured the shoulder on the very next play.

The Giants' pass rush has picked up in recent weeks, but it still hasn't had the consistency it needs from its defensive ends in that department. The idea that Pierre-Paul has to play the rest of the season through a shoulder injury indicates that it probably won't.

In other Giants' injury news, center Jim Cordle left Sunday's game with a knee injury. Monday, Cordle said he has a torn patellar tendon in his left knee and he'll have further testing done on it Thursday to assess the extent of the damage. Cordle said the injury is not to a ligament, and that there's a chance he can play again this year, though Sunday night's game in Washington feels unlikely. Kevin Boothe moved from left guard to center to replace Cordle, and James Brewer took over at left guard. That arrangement likely would continue if Cordle has to miss more time.

No news Monday on cornerback Trumaine McBride, who left Sunday's game with a groin injury.

Injury update: McBride, Cordle banged up

November, 24, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants cornerback Trumaine McBride and center Jim Cordle both left Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys due to injury.

McBride said he suffered a groin injury, but isn't sure how serious it is yet.

Coach Tom Coughlin said McBride's absence was felt. "It did hurt us because you see the shuffling around that had to take place to get the proper alignment to try and defend their three- and four-wide passing," Coughlin said.

Cordle suffered a knee injury. He said an initial X-ray was negative and it's not an ACL tear.

"MRI tomorrow. Hopefully it's not serious. Definitely couldn't go back in," Cordle said.

With Cordle out, the Giants shifted left guard Kevin Boothe to center, and inserted James Brewer at left guard.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has been playing through a shoulder injury, was spotted going into the X-ray room after the game.

"I'm OK," Pierre-Paul said. "I just hurt my shoulder, that's it. I'm OK. Physically, I'm OK."

Pierre-Paul had just one tackle and no sacks in the game.

Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who was listed as questionable but had said he would play against the Cowboys despite an abdominal injury, was declared inactive for the game.

Nicks had no comment upon leaving the Giants' locker room after the game.

When asked if Nicks was close to playing Sunday, Coughlin said, "He didn’t practice all week. We made the decision not to play him."

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

November, 24, 2013
11/24/13
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 24-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys:

What it means: You have to think it's over now, right? The Giants' four-game winning streak came to an end in a tough game in which Dan Bailey's 35-yard field goal went through the uprights as time ticked away, and now they are 4-7 with five games left in their season. The Giants ran the ball well, but Eli Manning and the passing game couldn't even get 200 yards against a pass defense that was allowing a league-worst 313 yards per game coming in. Now, the Giants need to win all five of their December games just to finish above .500. Dreams of a miracle run to the playoffs all but died in the cold at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Stock watch: The running game -- UP. The Giants ran for more than 200 yards in a game for the first time since Oct. 7 of last year. Andre Brown went over 100 yards for the second time in his three games this season, and Brandon Jacobs contributed with a couple of surprisingly big plays. His 37-yard gain in the first half was the first Giants' run play of the season that covered at least 20 yards. The interior of the offensive line, even after losing center Jim Cordle to a knee injury, did a fine job of opening holes for the running backs, and the Giants stuck with the run even though they were trailing all game.

Sacks are back: After being largely absent during the season-opening, six-game losing streak, the Giants pass rush has returned over the past month. They sacked Tony Romo four times Sunday. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins collected two by himself as the interior of the Giants defensive line continues to be a consistent strength of the team.

Bonehead plays: There were plenty both ways, but Mathias Kiwanuka picked up a couple of damaging personal-foul calls that ranked among the lowlights of the 11 penalties assessed against the Giants. The Cowboys were called for 11 as well.

What's next: The Giants play their first road game since Oct. 27 when they travel to Washington for an 8:30 p.m. ET game against the Redskins next Sunday night. The Redskins are 3-7 heading into this week's "Monday Night Football" game against the 49ers.
The greatest in-season NFL travel schedule of all-time rolls along, which means I don't have to drive to Philadelphia until Sunday morning. So let's take some New York Giants Twitter questions, shall we, on this lovely autumn Saturday? Anyone who's tagged a question with #nygmail in the past week is eligible to have his or her question answered right here, and these are the ones that made this week's cut.

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Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants.

The news of the day: Lots of talk around the Giants about wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and the tough year he's having. Tom Coughlin said Wednesday that Nicks needs to be more reliable. And while Nicks said he thinks his game is the same as it ever was and people are just focusing on him more because he's in a contract year and has been mentioned in trade rumors, it seems obvious to anyone watching that Nicks isn't the same player he was before the leg injuries of 2012. Maybe he gets better as the year goes along. Maybe the legs never come back. Either is a possibility, as are several outcomes along the middle part of that spectrum. Whatever happens, assuming they don't trade him by Tuesday, Nicks remains one of the big issues facing the Giants for the remainder of this season and into the offseason. ... In other news, the Giants placed starting center David Baas on season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury, meaning Jim Cordle takes over as the starting center. Cordle has improved since the start of the season, and has started as many games this year as the injury-plagued Baas has, but the Giants are struggling against defensive pressure on the interior of the offensive line, and they would prefer a healthy Baas. They just don't have one, and likely won't ever again.

Behind enemy lines: Giants coaches and players spoke Wednesday about how much improvement they believe the Eagles have shown on defense since they played them in Week 5, but one of the Eagles' starting cornerbacks is missing practice time this week with an injury. Bradley Fletcher wasn't the most exciting free-agent signing of the offseason, but he's covered pretty well and is a key aspect of the Eagles' improved ability to limit opponents.

Around the division: The Cowboys are feeling good about themselves these days as they've won a couple of games in a row and moved into first place in the NFC East. But they have a big test of a game this week against the Detroit Lions, and one of the biggest keys will be the ability of Dallas defensive back Brandon Carr to limit the damage done by Lions star receiver Calvin Johnson.

Around the league: Greg Garber's look at the NFL trade deadline was a fun read, and he proposed some potential doozies, including this off-the-wall idea of the Giants trading for Minnesota's Adrian Peterson. Don't sweat it, Giants fans. Not possible, for salary cap and a whole bunch of other reasons. Probably fun to imagine, though.

Cordle steps into starting role

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants center David Baas was placed on season-ending injured reserve prior to practice Wednesday -- but No. 64 was still on the field.

Baas
It wasn't Baas, though -- it was Jim Cordle, the player replacing Baas in the lineup.

Cordle was wearing Baas' No. 64 instead of his customary No. 63 -- a fitting tribute, right? Except that's not why Cordle was wearing the number.

It was a wardrobe malfunction -- an equipment manager hung the wrong jersey in Cordle's locker. "I didn't realize it until I was out there," Cordle said. "I guess it was fitting that I could wear his jersey for a little bit on this day."

Cordle eventually switched back to a No. 63 jersey. And now he'll switch back to starting, which he did in Weeks 4, 5 and 6. Baas returned from a neck injury in Week 7, but suffered a knee injury Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings that landed him on IR.

When Baas returned, Giants coach Tom Coughlin went out of his way to praise the job Cordle did in his stead. Coughlin expressed confidence in Cordle again Wednesday.

"He's done an outstanding job," the coach said. "He's very smart. He keeps up with everything. He's prepared to go. He has a nice demeanor about him, in terms of going into the game at whatever point. We would hope that would continue."

It's a huge opportunity for the 26-year-old, who went undrafted out of Ohio State in 2010. After signing with the Giants as a rookie free agent, Cordle spent a year and change on the practice squad before being elevated to the active roster. Those three starts earlier this season were the first of his NFL career.

"Right now we're just trying to win one game at a time. So that's all I'm thinking about, is the Philadelphia game," Cordle said. "I was happy to get the opportunity that I had, I thought Dave would come back and be healthy and be the guy, but he went down again. I feel good about it this time. I've been playing, and the team's confident in me, so that helps."

Baas is confident in his replacement, too. "He's done an excellent job," Baas said, "and he'll continue to do an excellent job."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants center David Baas missed three games with a neck injury, returned to start Monday night's game against the Vikings and ... limped off the field during the first drive of the game and didn't return. Baas injured his left knee and will have an MRI on Tuesday, but he did not sound optimistic about the results.

Baas
"We think we have an idea what it is," Baas said. "Hopefully it's not what we think, but we'll see. Obviously it's frustrating, because you feel like you can't catch a break. But it is what it is."

If "what it is" is a torn knee ligament, obviously the Giants could be without Baas for the remainder of this season. Jim Cordle took over at center and would be the most likely replacement.

Defensive end Justin Tuck left the game briefly in the fourth quarter in a lot of pain, but returned shortly thereafter. Tuck said the problem was a dislocated finger, but that he was fine as soon as he popped it back into place. This is, apparently, something that happens to him with some sort of frequency. He went for X-rays after the game, but he should be okay to play Sunday.

Tuck also got a sack in the game. He had a half a sack in the season opener in Dallas but was shut out in that category since. He did his trademark bow after bringing down Josh Freeman on Monday.

"I almost forgot how to do it, honestly," Tuck said.

Running back Brandon Jacobs was inactive for the game after rushing for 106 yards in Week 6 in Chicago and injuring his hamstring last week. Jacobs said he was told Monday morning he wouldn't be playing. He hopes to be able to play Sunday in Philadelphia.

"I'm hoping and praying," he said. "I think they made the right call (Monday). The medical staff said I could have gotten out there and pulled it, and it could have ended up being worse."

Newly signed running back Peyton Hillis rushed for 36 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown and caught five passes for 45 yards. Rookie Michael Cox rushed for 23 yards on 11 carries and caught two short passes.

Injury update: Jenkins in walking boot

September, 30, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants starting defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins was wearing a protective walking boot on his lower right leg Monday in the Giants locker room, a day after the team's 31-7 loss to the Chiefs.

When asked to describe the injury, Jenkins said, "I think just a little tendon something, knee and Achilles. ... Hopefully like I said, just a couple days, get this thing treated, and get back going."

Head coach Tom Coughlin did not have further updates yet on the other players injured against the Chiefs. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) and cornerbacks Aaron Ross (back) and Jayron Hosley (hamstring) all left the game early and did not return, plus linebacker Mark Herzlich was wearing a walking boot after the game due to a toe injury.

The same goes for starting center David Baas (neck) and right guard Chris Snee (hip), who sat out Sunday's game. "I’m waiting to hear on those kinds of things," Coughlin said. "The treatment is being conducted today as usual. We’ll see."

Jim Cordle and James Brewer started for Snee and Baas, respectively. Cordle was making his first NFL regular-season start, while Brewer was making his second.

"They played against a very good front and, for the most part, they did a good job," Coughlin said. "We did have a holding penalty up there and there were some occasions where we could have obviously done a better job or finished a block better than we did. They scrapped and I was pleased with what they accomplished. I wish obviously, it would have been perfect, but they did OK."
KANSAS CITY -- No big surprises on the New York Giants' inactives list for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Four of the seven -- cornerback Corey Webster, center David Baas, right guard Chris Snee and tight end Adrien Robinson -- had already been ruled out for the game and didn't fly here with the team.

The other three inactives are third quarterback Ryan Nassib, rookie defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (who has been inactive for all four games so far) and safety Cooper Taylor, who suffered a shoulder injury last week in Carolina. Without Taylor, the only two active safeties for the Giants this week are starters Antrel Rolle and Ryan Mundy.

It's possible that cornerback Terrell Thomas could work some at safety if they need him to. He has said he knows the plays and has some experience there. The Giants have been using Thomas as a nickel cornerback this year, but the need for that position may not be as great in this game as it was against teams like the Cowboys and Broncos, who lean hard to three-receiver sets.

The Giants announced that Jim Cordle would get his first career NFL start as he replaces Baas at center. Cordle struggled in a preseason start at center against the Jets. James Brewer, who started at left guard in the season opener when Kevin Boothe slid over to play center, will start at right guard in place of Snee.

Veteran offensive lineman David Diehl, who missed the first three games of the season following thumb surgery, is active but is not listed as a starter. It's possible they could use Diehl as a second tight end in "big" short-yardage or goal-line packages, or that he's an emergency plan in case of an injury to one of the starting tackles, but it remains unclear to what extent he can help with his thumb still not fully healed and since he missed five weeks of practice prior to last week.

A lot of people ask about Hankins, who was the team's second-round pick. I don't think there's any reason other than the depth chart that he continues to be inactive for the games. The Giants have been happy with what Shaun Rogers and Mike Patterson have done at the backup defensive tackle spots, and there's no need for them to carry five at that position on gameday. Hankins is still developing his technique and his lower-body strength, and the Giants can carry a developmental player at defensive tackle right now.

One bit of potential good news for the Giants is that Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers is inactive due to a knee injury, which should help the Giants' receivers get open down the field. Of course, many of you may remember that last week in Carolina, the Panthers were missing three members of their starting secondary and none of the Giants receivers had a chance to get open because Eli Manning was getting sacked immediately on every play.

Giants Stock Watch

August, 28, 2013
8/28/13
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A look at whose stock is rising and falling with the New York Giants on the eve of their final preseason game.

FALLING

The secondary. No one was expecting another eight-interception year from Stevie Brown, but he was slated to be a starting safety and had worked hard all offseason to learn and master more of the defense than he knew when he was thrust surprisingly into a starter's role in 2012. Brown tore his ACL in Saturday night's preseason game against the Jets, leaving an already-questionable part of the Giants' roster thin. Newcomer Ryan Mundy takes over as the starter for now opposite Antrel Rolle, who's still working his way back from an ankle sprain. But the guy the Giants really like for that spot is Will Hill, who is suspended for the first four games of the season.

Manning
Eli Manning's comfort. Injuries along the offensive line have prompted three rearrangements of the starting group in the past nine days. After Jim Cordle struggled at center Saturday, the Giants moved Kevin Boothe to center and elevated James Brewer to the starting left guard spot. While Brewer has worked at guard in practice a bit this offseason, he's a natural tackle with little experience on the inside. But Boothe is the team's best option at center after the injured David Baas, and that position is more essential as Manning works to get comfortable behind all the shuffling. Manning is fine with shuttling different receivers and tight ends in and out of the lineup, but he's a little bit less fine with not being able to count on his protection to stay reliable. If Baas were able to return by Week 1, that would be a big help. One positive development: Rookie right tackle Justin Pugh seemed to hold up fine in his first game action as a starter.

RISING

Tuck
The defensive line. You saw Justin Tuck's interception of Geno Smith on a play where he hid and then dropped into coverage. Tuck looks fantastic. But what's stood out to me in these preseason games so far (and in the practices I've attended) is the play of the Giants' defensive tackles. Shaun Rogers and Mike Patterson, in particular, looked great Saturday night helping to collapse the pocket with interior pressure. A couple of guys like that in rotation with Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins could give the Giants something they didn't have last year as far as disruptive toughness in the interior of the defensive line.

Andre Brown. You're getting sick of me writing about this, but it's a real issue. David Wilson's 84-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage was the play of the game. But in a game in which Manning and the first-team offense took 34 snaps, Brown was on the field for 26 and Wilson was on the field for just 14. Brown has consistently been the third-down back and the goal-line back this preseason, but he was also the first-down back and the second-down back in the second quarter Saturday. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the team found itself in more passing downs in the second quarter. And while he said "not necessarily" when I asked him if he trusts Brown more than he trusts Wilson in pass protection, the proof is in the pudding. When the Giants are in passing downs, Brown is the halfback and Wilson is on the bench. This is a major conundrum for the Giants, because they need Wilson for his breathtaking big-play ability but don't yet trust him to help protect Manning, which is their top priority. Meantime, more snaps for Brown, who's been great in practice even though he was so-so in Saturday's game.

Practice report: New offensive line, again

August, 26, 2013
8/26/13
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tom Coughlin is trying out another new offensive line.

On Monday, the Giants trotted out Kevin Boothe at center in place of Jim Cordle. James Brewer moved to left guard and rookie Justin Pugh remained at right tackle. Chris Snee remains at right guard and Will Beatty remains at left tackle.

The Giants started Cordle at center and Pugh at right tackle to replace the injured David Baas (knee) and David Diehl (thumb) against the Jets on Saturday. There were some communication issues, and Eli Manning was under pressure at times facing an aggressive Jets defense.

Coughlin wouldn't say if this is definitely the starting O-line moving forward until Baas and Diehl are ready to return. "We’ll possibly do some of that," Coughlin said. "We’ll try different combinations. Nothing wrong with that, I hope."

TC on KP: The Giants have lost safety Stevie Brown for the season to a torn ACL. The Eagles released former Giants safety Kenny Phillips on the same day the Giants learned the extent of Brown's injury. So, could the Giants be interested in a reunion?

"I’m not aware of that," Coughlin said. "Although I do know our staff will look at every player."

Practice 411: This was a scout team practice, which means the Giants were preparing a lot for the preseason finale against the Patriots on Thursday. Coughlin said he is not sure yet how much the starters will play, but he did say he is likely going to play his starters some.

"Well, I’m strongly inclined to do that," he said. "It’s just (a question of) how much, that’s all."

During practice, Dan Connor remained with the first team at middle linebacker. Jason Pierre-Paul did work with the second team during individual drills in his first practice since coming off the PUP list.

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