New York Giants: New York Giants

Beckham sits, Harris continues to excel

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The big topic of conversation at Giants camp Tuesday was the absence of first-round draft pick Odell Beckham Jr., who is back on the sideline and was ruled out for Friday's game against the Jets.

That's bad news for the Giants, but good news for the young wide receivers battling to make the 53-man roster.

Corey Washington, Marcus Harris and Julian Talley all got some first-team reps Tuesday. Washington has received the most attention -- and deservedly so, thanks to his three game-winning touchdown catches in the first three games of the preseason. But Harris has also stood out.

He led the Giants with four receptions (for 49 yards) in the Hall of Fame game against the Bills, and again with four receptions (for 41 yards) last Saturday against the Colts.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Harris
AP Photo/David RichardMarcus Harris has a pair of four-reception games this preseason.
"I think I've had a pretty strong camp, made plays whenever the ball came my way," Harris said Tuesday. "Played pretty good in the games, but always room for improvement."

Harris' nickname is "Soup," short for "Superstar," originally given to him by Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, a former teammate at Kirkwood High School near St. Louis.

But Harris went undrafted in 2011 after four years at Murray State, leaving as the school's all-time leading receiver. The Lions signed him as a free agent, cut him at the end of training camp and then brought him back to their practice squad in late November.

Detroit waived him the following July. He was picked up by Tennessee a week later, but cut again at the end of training camp. Harris ended up playing for Omaha in the UFL and the Iowa Barnstormers in the Arena Football League, with whom he racked up 94 catches and 19 touchdowns.

The Giants signed Harris last August and stashed him on their practice squad for the bulk of the 2013 season. He's yet to play in a real NFL game, but at age 25, he may be on the verge of a breakthrough. It's been a long road, but Harris doesn't view that as a negative.

"It's not tough at all. Especially when you have confidence in your talent," Harris said. "I just keep working every day -- no matter if I bounced around, even if it was Arena [football], I always made plays. It just depends on if the coaches want you. Hopefully I'll stick around this year."

The Giants broke camp last year with only five wide receivers on the 53-man roster, but coach Tom Coughlin indicated Tuesday that he would consider keeping six wideouts this year.

"If they're evaluated as being solid people that can make the club, then perhaps you have to make an adjustment somewhere else," Coughlin said. "Are we against keeping six? No. That's been done before."

Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Beckham are the three locks to make the team. Jerrel Jernigan has not been impressive this summer, but will probably be retained based on his strong showing late last season. That leaves only one, or maybe two, spots for Harris, Washington and the five other wide receivers currently practicing with Big Blue -- a group that also includes former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham and return specialist Trindon Holliday.

Every practice counts and Harris made another impressive play Tuesday, out-leaping reserve cornerback Ross Weaver (both are listed at 6-foot-1) to reel in a pass from backup quarterback Ryan Nassib in the back corner of the end zone.

Harris is also being utilized in a variety of special-teams roles.

"They said the more you can do, so they're just trying to see if I can do every position on the field," Harris said. "This week I'm playing fullback on punt so it's a new position, but I'm comfortable with it because I practiced it last year on practice squad."

No. 13 won't be out there on Friday night against the Jets, but No. 18 is certainly worth watching.

Giants Camp Report: Day 13

August, 11, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. participated in individual drills Monday. Beckham, the team’s first-round draft pick, hasn’t practiced since injuring a hamstring on July 22, the very first day of training camp. “They said he did all right, and maybe they can extend it a little bit tomorrow, I hope,” coach Tom Coughlin said. The highlight of Beckham's day was a one-handed catch on a pass from Eli Manning. “He’s out there running around, doing individual (drills), that’s all I saw,” Coughlin said. “Did he look fast? He probably wasn’t full speed today, but he did some things. I won’t be able to ascertain anything until he takes some team stuff.” Fellow wideout Victor Cruz (knee) was given a day off as a maintenance day, but Coughlin said Cruz will practice Tuesday.
  • The injury report was a long one. It included wide receivers Jerrel Jernigan (knee) and Marcus Harris (hip) -- both are expected to return Tuesday as well. Also sitting out: fullback John Conner (concussion), tight ends Daniel Fells (knee) and Xavier Grimble (hamstring), running back Peyton Hillis (foot), wide receiver/kick returner Trindon Holliday (hamstring), cornerback Jayron Hosley (foot), defensive tackle Mike Patterson (shoulder) amd linebacker Jon Beason (foot).
  • Third-string quarterback Curtis Painter worked with the second team, while backup QB Ryan Nassib took snaps with the third team. Painter had been working with the 3s, and Nassib with the 2s, but Painter played extremely well Saturday against the Steelers. “Curtis certain did earn it, but I never put them in any kind of order for you and I won’t do it now, either,” Coughlin said. “They both have worked with the seconds, they both have worked with the threes and we will decide later in the week how we are going to play.”
  • Wide receiver Corey Washington -- a long-shot at the start of camp, but with two touchdown catches in the team's first two preseason games -- had a phenomenal practice. Working with the starters, he had three consecutive catches during a 2-minute drill and made a jumping grab over cornerback Zack Bowman near the sideline. Fellow wideout Rueben Randle made an amazing one-handed 50-yard catch in the back of the end zone from Manning with Prince Amukamara and Stevie Brown draped all over him.

Giants Camp Report: Day 9

August, 1, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:

• Coach Tom Coughlin said "we'll see" when asked how many snaps his starters would play in Sunday night's preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills, but he added that there will be a "minimal number." Victor Cruz eluded to what might be a ballpark figure. When asked how his role has changed going into his first preseason game of the year, Cruz mentioned that he's gone from a player who plays the second half to one who will just get 15-20 snaps Sunday. Coughlin also said that snaps could be impacted on health and position battles, which might necessitate more snaps.

• Cruz thinks the Giants will run their West Coast offense from the beginning. "I think they are going to put us right to the test and see how well we know the offense, how well this thing can perform at a high level," he said. "And I think right out of the bat we will be maybe not no-huddle, but a little bit more up-tempo."

• Asked what his team wants to accomplish Sunday, Coughlin mentioned keeping penalties to a bare minimum, not turning the ball over, avoiding sloppy play and establishing the running game. And, of course, staying healthy.

• Coughlin said rookie cornerback Bennett Jackson has a "significant" ankle sprain, though X-rays were negative. Jackson had gotten his feet tangled with wideout Corey Washington in Thursday’s practice. Left tackle Will Beatty (headache) was on the field but did not practice Friday. So were defensive tackle Mike Patterson (shoulder) and defensive end Robert Ayers (ankle). Rookie wideout Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) did his standard JUGS routine.

• Linebacker Spencer Paysinger (concussion), receiver/kick returner Trindon Holliday (hamstring) and tight end Xavier Grimble (hamstring) also watched from the side.

• During practice, Charles Brown was with the starters at left tackle, while second-year pro Johnathan Hankins moved in next to Cullen Jenkins at defensive tackle. Rookie Andre Williams got a look with the ones, as Rashad Jennings was given more of a rest. Jennings is not dealing with an injury, so don’t read into that. Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells got the majority of snaps at tight end. Seems like those two players have emerged from the pack at that position. Donnell did have a drop during 11-on-11s. Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard is one of the more intriguing players to watch Sunday. The coaches think very highly of him. Quarterback Eli Manning's pass was intercepted by corner Trumaine McBride in red-zone drills.

• The Giants conducted the last half-hour of Friday's practice in their practice bubble because of the threat of lightning.

• The Giants placed tackle Troy Kropog (foot) on injured reserve and signed tackle Adam Gress. Gress is an undrafted rookie free agent out of Penn State; He is 6-7 and 300 pounds.

• The Giants also signed cornerback Chandler Fenner and waived/injured cornerback Travis Howard.

OTA No. 9: Beckham Jr. still sidelined

June, 12, 2014
Jun 12
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants held their ninth of 10 offseason training activities (a.k.a. voluntary practices) on Thursday, and the big news was starting middle linebacker Jon Beason being carted off with a foot injury.

But, on the other side of the ball, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. -- the team's first-round draft pick -- was held out entirely because of a hamstring injury.

Beckham also sat out last Thursday's OTA, the previous one open to the media. But Beckham said he feels "a lot better" this week.

"I was running around today, running routes [on the side] and dancing in the locker room," Beckham said. "So I feel pretty good."

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the team is just being cautious with Beckham, given the time of year. The wideout hopes to be cleared to participate in next week's three-day mandatory minicamp.

"I’m pretty sure next week I’ll be back up and running," Beckham said.

The other Peyton: Running back Peyton Hillis sat out Thursday with a muscle strain. Hillis said he suffered the injury during the team's first OTA, but tried to play through it.

"Strained [it] a little more this past Thursday," Hillis said. "But been getting better, been getting healthy, hoping to make it out there by minicamp."

Coughlin said Hillis is in "fabulous shape." He is one of six running backs currently on the roster, along with David Wilson, Rashad Jennings, Michael Cox, Andre Williams and Kendall Gaskins.

The 28-year-old is the most accomplished of the bunch, having rushed for 1,177 yards with the Cleveland Browns back in 2010. Hillis ran for 247 yards (3.4 yards per carry) in seven games with the Giants last season. The team re-signed him to a two-year, $1.8 million contract during the offseason.

O-line update: Charles Brown, Geoff Schwartz, J.D. Walton, Brandon Mosley and Justin Pugh was the team's first-string offensive line at the start of practice, from left to right.

Chris Snee was present and in uniform, but did not participate in team drills, with Mosley filling his spot at right guard. The same thing happened at last Thursday's OTA. The team is giving Snee some days off as he works his way back from offseason hip and elbow surgeries.

Mixed bag: Ryan Nassib continues to get most of the snaps after Eli Manning, with Curtis Painter just getting a couple here and there.

The second-year man from Syracuse has looked good at times, but Thursday was a day to forget.

Nassib threw three interceptions -- the first by safety C.J. Barnett, the second by cornerback Charles James and the third by safety Cooper Taylor.

On the bright side, Manning finished the day with a flourish, connecting deep with wideout Rueben Randle on the first play of a two-minute drill for a practice-ending touchdown.

But Manning had his forgettable moments as well, including a dropped shotgun snap, a pass batted down by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and several incompletions.

Coughlin admitted that the new offense, under new coordinator Ben McAdoo, is still very much a work in progress.

"It's slow, to be honest with you. The progress is slow," Coughlin said. "But steady. There are some days, of course, which are better than others. But we're getting there. There's a lot of things that have to be converted in the guys that have been here's minds, and the new people who have not been in a system such as this have a lot to learn."
Eli Manning is healthy, but that's not the only reason to be excited, New York Giants fans.

Manning also sounds rejuvenated by the process of learning a new offense under new coordinator Ben McAdoo.

Manning
"It is tough, it's not easy, but it has definitely re-energized me and brought an urgency to this time of year," Manning said Tuesday, on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

The two-time Super Bowl MVP is coming off arguably the poorest season of his career, if you toss out the nine games he played in his rookie season. Manning threw for just 18 touchdowns, with a league-high 27 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of just 69.4 in 2013.

His work ethic has never been questioned, but it sounds like Manning's working even harder than usual.

"It's definitely challenging. Each night, I'm staying up and preparing, and I feel like I'm in season right now with the amount of preparation I'm trying to put in to get ready for each practice," Manning said.

"Each practice is draining on you mentally, you're thinking so much about everything that has to go on and the different calls," the quarterback continued. "But it is also exciting. As a football player, as a competitor, you like to be challenged."

The Giants have two more organized team activities, on Thursday and Friday, followed by a mandatory three-day minicamp next week. Manning has been able to participate fully in the team's first eight OTAs, despite undergoing ankle surgery in April.

That should pay dividends, as the 33-year-old prepares to play under a new offensive coordinator for the first time in his career.

"This has been huge, just getting in the offense," Manning said. "It's one thing to listen to a play being called or watch plays being run -- you may think you have a good grasp of it, until you're out there and you gotta pull the trigger, you gotta make a call, you gotta change a play and you’re doing it live, and with the defense, and make all those little decisions. It was huge."
There are only 13 coaches in NFL history who have won multiple Super Bowls.

Two of them were at the New York Giants' training facility on Tuesday.

Current head coach Tom Coughlin welcomed former Giants coach Bill Parcells to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. The two men responsible for the franchise's four Super Bowl victories posed for a photo in front of the trophy case in the lobby, which features their handiwork:



That's not all they did Tuesday. The Giants held their eighth of 10 organized team activities (this one closed to the media), with Parcells watching, and the 2013 Hall of Fame inductee addressed the team on the field at the end of practice, according to Giants.com.

The Giants' final two OTAs are on Thursday and Friday. The Thursday session is open to the media, as is next week's mandatory three-day minicamp.

Rolle played major role in DRC signing

May, 20, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Four weeks ago, at the New York Giants' first player availability of the offseason, Walter Thurmond boasted that the team's secondary could be better than the Seahawks' Legion of Boom, and Antrel Rolle said Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could be the best cornerback in the NFL.

There were no such proclamations this Tuesday, during the team's second availability of the spring. But Rodgers-Cromartie did talk to reporters, and sounds bullish about the Giants' defense come this fall.

Rolle
Rodgers-Cromartie
"It can be real good," he said. "Not even from just a secondary standpoint -- I look at going through these drills with the linebackers, they definitely understand the coverages and how to drop. So I think that'll be helpful, when your linebackers and secondary are of one accord."

Rodgers-Cromartie signed a five-year, $39 million contract ($15 million guaranteed) with the Giants back in March, after also meeting with the New York Jets, and said Tuesday that his decision was not an easy one.

"It was very difficult," he said. "You visit both teams, and both teams seem really, really interested in you. But at the end of the day, I felt comfortable coming over here just with the things that were being said and that were going to be done -- I just felt that would better help me as a football player."

It sounds like Rolle's influence was key. The two were teammates with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008 and 2009.

"He just hit me up and said a couple things that hit home," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "He was like, 'I think you can be this and that in our system, and the coaches and everybody else will help you get to it, just buy into it.'"

A former first-round pick back in 2008, with 19 interceptions in six seasons, Rodgers-Cromartie is now on his fourth NFL team -- and he's hoping to stay awhile this time around. He said he's been sitting next to Rolle in team meetings, to speed his learning of the new terminology.

He also admits hearing what Rolle said about him last month, and appreciates the compliment, but will let his play do the talking.

"Whenever you've got somebody that believes in you, you want to go out there and just go that much harder," Rodgers-Cromartie said, "kind of not be a letdown and hold up your end of the bargain."

Robinson, Grimble could fill void at TE

May, 20, 2014
May 20
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants currently have five tight ends on their roster, with a combined six receptions in the NFL last season.

The team made seven draft picks earlier this month, but none of them were tight ends.

Sounds like a problem, right?

But it's also a huge opportunity for 25-year-old Adrien Robinson and 21-year-old Xavier Grimble, two young players with a lot to prove.

Robinson, the Giants' fourth-round draft pick in 2012 out of Cincinnati, has been a major disappointment in his first two years in the league. In part due to injuries, and in part due to general unreadiness, Robinson has played in just three games, and has yet to catch a pass.

"Being my third year [coming up], I know it’s basically show up or go home," Robinson said Tuesday. "So that’s my mentality, that’s how I’m looking at it."

The 6-foot-4, 264-pound Robinson put up relatively unimpressive numbers in college, with 12 catches for 183 yards and three touchdowns his senior year. The Giants drafted him based on his overall athletic ability and upside, with general manager Jerry Reese labeling Robinson "the JPP of tight ends."

That hasn't panned out, at least not yet, but Robinson sounds enthusiastic about this coming season.

"My weight’s down, got a new OC, new tight ends coach," Robinson said. "It’s a fresh start, a clean slate."

New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is still installing the new offense, but Robinson predicts the tight ends will have more chances to catch the ball. He said he likes the new offense more, and sounds more comfortable with new position coach Kevin M. Gilbride, as opposed to former tight ends coach Mike Pope.

"He's younger, so he kind of relates on a different level," Robinson said. "Not that Coach Pope didn't relate, but I think it helps to have a guy closer to your age."

Grimble is similar in size to Robinson -- the same height, and just seven pounds lighter. He put up only modestly better numbers at USC, with 25 catches for 271 yards and two touchdowns this past fall.

Despite having a year of college eligibility remaining, Grimble entered the NFL draft, but was not selected.

Was he surprised? Yes. But right after the draft ended, several teams showed interest in signing Grimble as a free agent. The Giants were the first team to call, which meant something to Grimble, as did the franchise's history.

"I grew up watching Jeremy Shockey and Kevin Boss -- the Giants were always known for having great tight ends," Grimble said. "It's just one of those organizations that to be a part of is just a great thing. I'm just really excited that I got an opportunity to be here."

Speaking of history, Grimble sounds like an avid student when it comes to his position. While in college he watched tape of some of the all-time greats, specifically mentioning John Mackey and Kellen Winslow Sr. And after receiving uniform No. 89 with the Giants, he quickly searched the Internet for highlights of another Giants tight end who wore No. 89, the legendary Mark Bavaro, and sent out this tweet:
 
"I'm a fan of the position," Grimble said. "I've always followed all the greats. It's inspiring to me. I feel like we're all connected in some way."

It's way too early to know whether Grimble can make any real impact in the NFL himself. There are reasons he went undrafted -- Grimble received a "below average" rating on his ESPN draft profile for separation skills, and an even worse "marginal" rating for big-play ability.

But at least he knows that a true tight end needs to do more than just catch the ball.

"While I was at USC, I think that was one thing we always focused on, was being an all-around tight end, which seems to be sometimes lost in the game," Grimble said. "I want to be the guy who can block and catch passes, have an all-around game."

"The way I was taught," Grimble added, "you don’t block, you don’t play."

McShay Mock 3.0: Giants 

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
11:00
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Todd McShay's third NFL mock draft for 2014 is out on ESPN Insider today.

Much is going to change on this roster, but as it stands today, the New York Giants really need just about everything. They could lose guys like Linval Joseph and Justin Tuck off their defensive line and all three levels of their defense can use a shot in the arm.

The same is true on offense, where they are currently weak at every spot with the exception of quarterback. And are we even so sure that they are truly "strong" at quarterback right now?

Todd had Michigan's Taylor Lewan going here in his last mock, but that seems highly unlikely now considering how great he showed at the combine, so offensive line help most likely will come in the later rounds.

Whom does McShay have the Giants drafting at No. 12? Let's take a look Insider:

Dave Tollefson retires, as a Giant

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
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NEW YORK -- Former New York Giants defensive end Dave Tollefson announced his retirement Friday, at the age of 31.

Tollefson
Tollefson spent five of his seven NFL seasons with the Giants. He played for the Oakland Raiders in 2012, and was out of football in 2013, but has officially retired as a Giant.

"I wanted to make sure Tom [Coughlin] knew and the Maras and Tisches knew how much it meant to me," Tollefson told Giants.com. “They gave me the shot. If it wasn't for what they did for me, who knows where I'd be now."

Tollefson was the third-to-last pick in the 2006 NFL draft -- seventh round, 253rd overall -- selected by the Green Bay Packers out of Northwest Missouri State. He spent his entire rookie season on the Packers' practice squad, started the next season on the Raiders' practice squad, and then was signed away by the Giants on Oct. 2, 2007.

In 63 games for the Giants from 2007 to 2011, Tollefson had 89 tackles and 10.5 sacks as primarily a reserve defensive lineman and special teams player. He made his only two career starts in 2011, when he had a career-high five sacks.

And, of course, Tollefson earned two Super Bowl championship rings.

"The great thing is the relationships I made playing with the Giants," Tollefson said. "I talk to those guys all the time. I talk to Osi [Umenyiora] and [Justin] Tuck weekly, [Michael] Strahan still, Eli [Manning]. You build relationships that I've built with the Giants, they become lifetime deals, you know?"

Tollefson has no definite plans for life after football yet, other than a couple surgeries, and spending more time with his wife and children.

"I've taken this last year off and I'll probably take another year off, enjoy the time with the kids. I've been Mr. Mom, taking them to school and picking them up and doing that," Tollefson said. "I don't really know yet. I still have time to kind of figure that out. It's not only a new chapter but maybe a new book in the Tollefson story."

Live blog: New York Giants at Detroit Lions

December, 22, 2013
12/22/13
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Join our ESPN.com NFL experts as they break down the New York Giants' visit to the Detroit Lions. Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 4 p.m. ET. And, be sure to visit our NFL Nation Blitz page for commentary from every game, as well as fan photos and the latest buzz from Twitter. See you there.

Randle wants to show he can be a starter

December, 20, 2013
12/20/13
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As a rookie, Rueben Randle gave the Giants a nice glimpse of what he's capable of in the season finale against Philadelphia.

During that 42-7 win over the Eagles at the end of 2012, the wide receiver had four catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Not a bad way to cap his first NFL campaign.

"Just boosted the confidence a little bit,” Randle said of what that game did for him. “Just let the coaches know what I can do, prove to those guys and to the teammates the type of player that I am.”

Sunday at Detroit, Randle will have another opportunity to show the coaching staff and quarterback Eli Manning what he's capable of doing with a starter's workload. Victor Cruz is out for the remaining two games with a knee injury. Randle hopes to capitalize and show that he can be an every-down starter for the Giants. If Hakeem Nicks doesn't return after free agency, Randle is the natural candidate to slide right in.

"I am trying,” Randle said of proving he can fill Nicks' cleats if necessary. “I don’t know if I have [shown that yet] or not. That is definitely the case that I am trying to prove.”

This season has been a struggle for Nicks, who is in a contract year. Nicks has just 50 catches for 794 yards and is looking to score his first touchdown of the season against the Lions.

Regardless of what happens with Nicks, the Giants likely have to find a bigger role for Randle to continue the former second-round pick's growth.

The second-year Randle has been much more of a factor in the end zone than Nicks, recording a team-high six touchdowns. Randle, though, would like to have more than 37 receptions for 571 yards so far.

The third season is typically when most receivers experience a breakout showing. Randle, though, said he felt his second year has been a breakout of sorts from a mental perspective.

"Maybe from a numbers standpoint," Randle said when asked if the third year for a receiver is the biggest breakout season. "But I felt like I made an improvement and got better this year. Maybe bigger numbers next year."

Of course, Randle still has time to add to his numbers for this season. And he would like to pad them significantly to show what he can do with a bigger role and propel himself into the offseason with a big finish.

"Would have liked to have done a lot more," he said of this season so far. "Just trying to get better and finish out the season strong and make some more plays and end on a good note and look forward to next year."

Injury report: JPP out

December, 20, 2013
12/20/13
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jason Pierre-Paul will miss his fourth straight game because of a shoulder injury.

Pierre-Paul joins WR Victor Cruz (knee), S Cooper Taylor (hamstring) and RB Peyton Hillis (concussion) as Giants who were ruled out against Detroit.

"The doctor won't clear him unless certain things happen and so far, they haven't," Coach Tom Coughlin said.

G David Diehl did not practice on Friday and is listed as doubtful to play Sunday.

"Right now he is just not able to go out there and practice the way that we would like him to," Coughlin said. "We'll see. Maybe another day will help. We thought today would be a day he would be able to do some work and he actually came out and did some things, but we just didn't put him in our practice."

G James Brewer (ankle) and WR Jerrel Jernigan (knee) are listed as questionable.

Here's the Giants injury report:

OUT
WR Victor Cruz (knee)
RB Peyton Hillis (concussion)
DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder)
S Cooper Taylor (hamstring)

DOUBTFUL:
G David Diehl (knee)

QUESTIONABLE:
G James Brewer (ankle)
WR Jerrel Jernigan (knee)

PROBABLE:
DT Cullen Jenkins (shin/quad)
CB Trumaine McBride (groin)
CB Terrell Thomas (knee)

Double Coverage: Giants at Lions

December, 20, 2013
12/20/13
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Justin Tuck and Matthew StaffordGetty ImagesJustin Tuck, left, and the Giants will be trying to end the playoff hopes of Matthew Stafford's Lions.
It is a battle of disappointments on Sunday at Ford Field: the New York Giants, who have been disappointing all season, against the Detroit Lions, who have been one of the more surprising teams over the second half of the season -- in a bad way.

The Giants have no playoff hopes. The Lions need to win their final two games and then hope for help (i.e., losses) from Green Bay and Chicago.

Taking you through Sunday’s matchup are ESPN.com NFL reporters Michael Rothstein (Lions) and Dan Graziano (Giants).

Rothstein: The Giants have struggled all season, and Eli Manning has been at the forefront of that. What has changed there?

Graziano: It's basically just a complete bottoming-out on all fronts, starting with the protection. A line that wasn't great to begin with is down two starters and has been playing a rookie at right tackle all season. The blocking help the line used to get from running backs and tight ends disappeared when the Giants let Ahmad Bradshaw and Martellus Bennett leave in the offseason. Hakeem Nicks has had a terrible year at receiver, playing like he is more worried about staying healthy in advance of free agency than trying his best to win. There has been no run game at all for long stretches. And Manning has failed to elevate above his miserable circumstances, missing too many throws and too often looking as though it has all been too much for him. It's been a total whitewash of a season for the Giants' offense. They are the only team in the league that has been shut out even once this season, and they've been shut out twice.

What is the deal out there in Detroit? To my eyes, the Lions should have put this division away by now with Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler having been out for so long. What is the main reason they seem to have squandered such a great opportunity?

Rothstein: I don't know whether there are enough words to describe all that has gone on, although the simplest way to put it would be consistent end-game meltdowns, either from turnovers, coaching decisions or a defense that suddenly faltered.

A lot of it has to do with Matthew Stafford, who has had accuracy issues in the second half of the season. Really, there have been issues everywhere but the lines, from turnovers to coverage breakdowns on defense.

This is a team that should be safely in the playoffs right now instead of needing to win out and get help.

That obviously leads to job-security questions for Jim Schwartz. Although that doesn't seem to be the case for Tom Coughlin, has this season given any indication as to how much longer he plans to be on the sideline?

Graziano: No, Coughlin is really a what-you-see-is-what-you-get sort of guy. He's completely believable when he insists he's focused on only this week's game and doesn't want to address anything beyond this season. People close to Coughlin insist he won't quit as long as he feels he can still do the job, and there is no indication he feels otherwise. He has as much passion and energy as anyone else in the building (and right now, more than most!). I don't think Giants ownership would fire him, and I'd be stunned if he got into the offseason and decided he was done. As one person close to him told me, "He has no hobbies. There's nothing for him to retire TO." At 67 years old, he understands why the questions get asked, but he doesn't view himself as near the end of a career, I don't think. As of now, he plans to be part of the solution here, and it would be a major upset if he wasn't back in 2014.

One of Coughlin's biggest immediate problems is keeping his quarterback from getting killed. How is that Detroit pass rush looking these days?

Rothstein: Eli, meet Ndamukong. He will be the guy tossing you to the ground today. In all seriousness, though, the Lions' pass rush has been interesting. The Lions have been great at applying pressure (other than against Pittsburgh) but don't have the actual numbers to show for it, which can be confusing.

What teams have done is bottle the middle on Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, and have either a tight end or running back help on either Willie Young or Ziggy Ansah on the ends.

So to answer your question, it has been OK, but not the consistently dominant force some were expecting.

That leads into my last question. The Lions' run defense, headed by that front, has been one of the best in the league this season. Have the Giants figured any way to solve their run woes?

Graziano: Andre Brown was hot for a while when he came back from his injury, and the offensive line was starting to block better for the run. But the past two weeks have seen a step backward, and the way the line is configured now, with starting left guard Kevin Boothe playing center and backups rotating in and out at left guard, has left it very vulnerable and one-dimensional. The Giants were able to take advantage of some good matchups with Brown running well, but against tougher fronts like the one they saw against Seattle last week, they struggle. I imagine they will struggle against the Lions' front in the run game as well.

Two straight disappointing games for Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Do you expect Megatron to blow up this week and victimize the Giants' secondary?

Rothstein: Kind of. As cornerback Rashean Mathis told me this week, if the Lions don’t find their urgency now, they’ll never find it this season. So I’d imagine you would see Johnson -- who is Detroit's best player -- at the forefront of that if the Lions have any shot over the next two weeks. Plus, those two drops he had against Baltimore will gnaw at him all week long. I expect he’ll have a big game.

Stafford, on the other hand, I’m not as sure about because he seems genuinely rattled this second half of the season. Detroit needs to find what was working for him at the start of the season and bring that back, otherwise its season is over.

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Live blog: Giants at Chargers

December, 8, 2013
12/08/13
2:30
PM ET
Join our ESPN.com NFL experts as they break down the New York Giants' visit to the San Diego Chargers. Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 4 p.m. ET. And, be sure to visit our NFL Nation Blitz page for commentary from every game, as well as fan photos and the latest buzz from Twitter. See you there.
 

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