New York Giants: Prince Amukamara
If you still haven't come across the hilarity that is the "East/West Bowl" -- a series of sketches by Comedy Central's Key & Peele -- then Part 3 (the "Pro Edition") is your chance to hop on board.
The first two East/West Bowls featured a roster roundup of made-up football players with increasingly ridiculous names. This time around, Key & Peele continue the litany of silly names (and facial hair), plus they've thrown some real-life NFL stars into the mix, including New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara and New York Jets offensive lineman D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
It also features a show-stopping cameo from ... well, I'll leave that as a surprise. (But, if you haven't seen Key & Peele, you might want to check out their "Substitute Teacher" sketch first, so you'll really get the joke.)
Amukamara also said he'd heard nothing yet from the Giants regarding his contract, which is a potentially interesting situation that may yet be addressed in the next few weeks.
Because Amukamara was their first-round pick in 2011, the Giants had the right to exercise a fifth-year option on him for 2015, which they did last offseason. If he plays out the season on that option, he'll make $6.898 million in 2015 (a figure determined by averaging the third through 25th highest cornerback salaries in the league in 2013). So far, that money is only guaranteed against injury, but it becomes fully guaranteed if he's still on the Giants' roster on the first day of the new league year, which is March 10.
The Giants like Amukamara, who was having a strong year before the injury, and they consider him part of their future. He'll surely be on the roster on March 10, and if they have to pay him $6.898 million in 2015, they can afford to do so.
But it's also possible that the Giants will approach Amukamara about signing a longer-term contract -- say a two-year or three-year deal that rolls the $6.898 million into a larger guarantee and helps them lower his cap number for this year. Amukamara said he and his agent had not yet been approached about that, but he'd be willing to listen if they wanted to have such a discussion.
Of the 32 first-round picks from the 2011 draft (the first one to which the fifth-year option rule applied), 21 had their options picked up. Of those 21, only four have signed long-term deals, and they are what Amukamara described as "no-brainers" -- Houston's J.J. Watt, Arizona's Patrick Peterson, St. Louis' Robert Quinn and Dallas' Tyron Smith. An Amukamara deal wouldn't come in as a mega deal along the lines of those four, but if the Giants can get him to agree to something reasonable that keeps him there for two or three years, it might help them with a little bit of extra cap room in the short term.
Obviously, when you have consecutive seasons under .500, your hope is that you're building something for the future. But at least in the eyes of our talent scout, the Giants are behind three-fourths of the NFL in terms of the quality of young talent on their roster.
We've talked a lot in this space about how the Giants' drafts from 2008-12 were pretty much complete wastelands, but when you're looking at 25-and-under talent you really can't go back further than that 2011 draft. That one delivered first-rounder Prince Amukamara (who doesn't turn 26 until June), but after him it was a mess of Marvin Austin, Jerrel Jernigan, James Brewer, Greg Jones, Tyler Sash, Jacquian Williams and Da'Rel Scott. Amukamara and Williams were defensive starters for the Giants in 2014, and Williams helped win the Super Bowl as a rookie, but that's clearly not a good draft.
The 2012 draft hasn't worked out very well either, as first-rounder David Wilson was forced into early retirement by neck injuries. Second-rounder Rueben Randle is a quality NFL receiver, though not a star. Third-rounder Jayron Hosley was a complete bust, and the Giants have received very little in contributions from Adrien Robinson, Brandon Mosley, Matt McCants and Markus Kuhn.
The Giants got starters in the first two rounds of the 2013 draft with Justin Pugh and Johnathan Hankins. Damontre Moore is still only 22, so there's still a chance he learns how to play the run and stop committing dumb penalties. And they're happy with fourth-rounder Ryan Nassib as a backup quarterback. But he's shown little to indicate he'll be any more than that, and late-rounders Cooper Taylor, Eric Herman and Michael Cox haven't shown much.
Of these drafts, 2014 obviously shows the most promise, with first-round superstar Odell Beckham Jr. leading the way. Matt also lists second-rounder Weston Richburg, who could be the team's starting center in 2015, among the Giants' top five 25-and-under players. They also found potential starters in the fourth round (Andre Williams) and the fifth round (Devon Kennard), and it's early to judge lightly-used guys such as Jay Bromley and Nat Berhe.
If this were a ranking of players 23 and under, then the drafts from the last two years likely would push the Giants up the list. But they're still lugging around the mistakes and misses from that dark half-decade when they couldn't figure out the draft, and that's why they're sitting there in the bottom quarter of Matt's rankings.
Injuries have been a problem here as well, but any way you cut it, potentially losing five defensive backs in free agency is pretty daunting.
The Giants actually have six unrestricted free-agent defensive backs. Matt listed safeties Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown and Quintin Demps and cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Chykie Brown, but he forgot about cornerback Zack Bowman. Add in the fact cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Trumaine McBride are coming off season-ending injuries, and the Giants have a great deal of work to do in an area that was one of their main priorities in free agency just a year ago.
The first issue is what to do with Rolle, a 32-year-old veteran captain who just played every game and earned every dollar of a five-year free-agent contract. They would bring him back, but it will have to be at the right price. And as they did with Justin Tuck a year ago, the Giants could lowball Rolle and send him into the arms of some team with a whole bunch of cap room and a willingness to spend for a big name. If that happens (and maybe even if it doesn't), the Giants may end up playing in the deep end of the free-agent safety pool, making an offer for someone such as New England's Devin McCourty or Buffalo's Da'Norris Searcy in an effort to replace Rolle.
I imagine they'll be able to bring back Stevie Brown on a sensible, low-cost deal. He played a bit better in the second half of this season after his benching, and they stuck with him last year through his ACL rehab. Demps didn't play great, nor did he make a major impact as a kick returner, which was the primary reason they signed him, so I think they'll likely let him go. It's also worth mentioning that some of these decisions could be impacted by the choice of the new defensive coordinator the Giants need to hire.
As for cornerback, they still have Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Amukamara and McBride under contract for 2015, though they have to figure out whether to bring Amukamara back on his one-year, $7 million option or work out a longer-term, lower-cost solution. Jayron Hosley is a good bet to be cut, and my guess is they let restricted free agent Mike Harris walk. The question marks here are Thurmond and Bowman, two guys they signed last year hoping they'd have a bigger impact. Thurmond got injured early and missed nearly the whole season. They like him a lot, but if he shows he's healthy they could have competition for his services.
My guess is they bring back Thurmond to play that nickel corner spot for which they had him earmarked then hope they can stay healthy at corner this year with all of the quality depth pieces they have and focus on safety. But if they start to feel Amukamara and McBride are question marks, or if Thurmond goes somewhere else, the Giants showed last year they won't hesitate to use their offseason resources to make themselves as deep as possible at cornerback. As 2014 showed, you can never have too many of them.
But while that issue looms over the offseason, there are some significant salary-cap questions for the Giants to answer on defense as well. Here are five:
A strong finish got Pierre-Paul to 12.5 sacks on the season and seems to have set him up for a free-agent contract push. His demands on a long-term deal, expected to be more than $12 million per year, could be more than the Giants are willing to pay for a player who was as limited by injury as Pierre-Paul was in 2012 and 2013. But he just turned 26 last week, and it's hard to find too many better 4-3 defensive end options on the market. The Giants do not have a ready replacement if Pierre-Paul leaves and will have to address the pass rush either way. One possibility is to use the franchise player designation on Pierre-Paul, effectively signing him to a one-year contract worth something close to $15 million. That would hurt them against this year's cap, but assuming they found relief elsewhere it would give them a year to assess Pierre-Paul's worthiness of their long-term commitment as well as the development of players such as Damontre Moore and Kerry Wynn as potential replacements.
I believe the answer to this is yes. He's clearly not coming back on his current contract, which includes a $4.775 million salary and a $7.45 million cap number for 2015. He's almost certain to be cut, and the only way I can see him back is on a veteran minimum deal, which I don't even know for sure they'd want to offer him. The Giants can save $4.825 million against their 2015 cap by cutting Kiwanuka.
As a 2011 first-round draft pick Amukamara was subject to the fifth-year option rule established by the new collective bargaining agreement, and the Giants did in fact exercise his 2015 option (expected to be about $7 million) last offseason. But that money is not guaranteed, and the Giants still could cut Amukamara by Sept. 1 if they wanted to. They don't, but his season-ending injury cut short a promising year and likely gives them leverage to negotiate a lower 2015 number on a two-year or three-year deal if they prefer. They do like him and want him back.
Middle linebacker Beason was a centerpiece of last offseason's plan, but he barely played after suffering a springtime toe injury, and he carries a $7.167 million cap number for 2015 and $6.992 million for 2016. This is a contract that will need to be overhauled if they're to fit it, Pierre-Paul and free agent Antrel Rolle into the 2015 and 2016 budgets. Beason says he wants to be back, but the Giants have to reassess his value given his injury history.
5. What about safety?
Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe are the only safeties signed to 2015 contracts for the Giants as of right now. Rolle is a free agent they'd like to have back, but he's 32 and they're not likely to overpay to keep him. This is a position on which the Giants have shown they're willing to spend major resources (i.e., first-round picks and big free-agent dollars), so expect them to carve out some room in the budget to plug their holes at this position, regardless of what happens with Rolle.
@DanGrazianoESPN: Based on what we heard at the postseason news conferences Tuesday, it sounds as though the Giants have not ruled out using the franchise player designation on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. The price is very high -- likely around $15 million -- but other than that the move makes sense if the Giants want Pierre-Paul back next year but are too worried about committing to him long-term. They have very real reasons to worry about that long-term deal, given the injury issues he had in 2012 and 2013 and the uneven nature of his performance in 2014. Pierre-Paul is looking to cash in with a big deal, and it may be tough for the Giants to compete for his services if they allow him to hit the open market. If Pierre-Paul realizes that his performance to date doesn't merit a top-five pass-rusher deal, it's likely he and the Giants can work something out before they have to make a decision about franchising him. But if he's determined to hit the market and see what he can get, then franchising him may be their best bet for keeping him in 2015. I don't see them using the franchise player designation on Rolle, but I do think they will be able to work out a deal with him.
@DanGrazianoESPN: I expect the secondary to be among the top offseason areas of focus for the Giants this year, along with the offensive and defensive lines. But the second part of your question is key, because they may decide to address the secondary simply by bringing back the guys they had this year and hope they stay healthy. Just because Walter Thurmond tore a pectoral muscle in Week 2 doesn't mean the Giants think any less of his abilities as a nickel cornerback, and the injury might help them bring him back relatively cheaply. They have Prince Amukamara's $7 million option picked up already, but they can negotiate around and get the 2015 cost down if they want to, and Amukamara was having a strong season before his biceps tear. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played hurt all year, and he'll surely be back. If they can keep that threesome healthy in 2015 and address safety, they should have a strong secondary. The law of averages says they can't possibly have as many defensive back injuries next year as they did this year. Right? Right???
Do you expect the focus to be in secondary? Or hope injured players come back in good shape? #nygmail— B.J. Hanley (@thebejota) January 2, 2015
@DanGrazianoESPN: They have to address the pass rush. If they bring back Pierre-Paul, they need to find another piece for the other side to go with Robert Ayers, because Mathis Kiwanuka is unlikely to be back. Kerry Wynn showed promise late in the season, and there's still hope that Damontre Moore can figure some things out and make use of his considerable natural ability. But I would expect the Giants to add at least one veteran pass-rusher, and if they can't bring back Pierre-Paul, more than one. On the offensive line, they'll surely bring back tackles Will Beatty and Justin Pugh, and the expected return of Geoff Schwartz from his injury-wrecked season would solidify one of the guard spots. From there, it's a matter of deciding whether Weston Richburg's future is at guard or center (they thought center when they drafted him last year) and adding a guard or center who's an upgrade over John Jerry or J.D. Walton. From where I sit, there's more work to do on the defensive line than there is on the offensive one, but that doesn't mean they should ignore opportunities to upgrade on the offensive line if they have one. I'm not super-high on Beatty as the answer at left tackle, and if I were the Giants and had the chance to take a potential franchise tackle at No. 9, I'd do it.
@DanGrazianoESPN: The case for keeping Perry Fewell as defensive coordinator is the same as the case for keeping Tom Coughlin as head coach. You do it if you like the way he coaches and can't come up with a clearly better option. There's a comfort level with Fewell, ample explanation (injuries, years of poor drafts) for why the defense struggled this year, and the knowledge (based on experience) that he can win for you if the right circumstances and pieces fall into place. The Giants don't like to fire coaches if they don't have to. They believe in continuity in positions of leadership. And if Coughlin thinks it's a win-or-else year in 2015, why shouldn't he stick with the people he picked and in whom he believes? I don't know what will happen with Fewell, and it's entirely possible that the Giants could announce next week that he's being replaced. But that's not the way the wind was blowing at week's end, and it's not as though they don't have reasons to keep him if that's what they decide to do.
Is there any upside to keeping Fewell? The defense has tanked for two years now. Why should I be hopeful? #nygmail— Steve Fredericks (@stevefredericks) January 2, 2015
Thanks for all of the questions. Enjoy the playoff games.
"You're asking me for a comment that has miffed me forever: Why does it happen?" Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday morning. "We've jumped even further into the science of staying healthy in terms of what we've done this year with our soft-tissue stuff, and as you can see, it hasn't been that. It hasn't been the soft tissue. It's been the surgical repairs, the things that have knocked people completely out of the game."
The Giants did overhaul their conditioning program this year, incorporating GPS monitoring and scheduled rest days throughout training camp and monitoring things differently during the season than they have in years past. But as Coughlin points out, the issues this year have generally not been muscle pulls or lingering strains. Starters Victor Cruz, Prince Amukamara, Jon Beason, Geoff Schwartz, Mathias Kiwanuka and Walter Thurmond all suffered season-ending injuries that required surgery to repair -- catastrophic-type issues that can't be prevented by better conditioning or vigilance. Dumb luck, in more or less all cases, which makes it even tougher to understand.
"It is a lot," said offensive tackle Justin Pugh, who missed the past two games with a quad strain but has avoided injured reserve and expects to play Sunday in Tennessee. "There's no doubt, you can look at it and think, 'How does this keep happening?' But it's part of the game. Every team deals with it. It's about how you handle the injuries."
The Giants haven't handled them very well, if their 3-9 record is any indication. Pugh said that the offense, at least, has had to make some changes in procedure due to the number of new faces shuffling in and out of the lineup all the time.
"Now, when we make a call, we're sticking with it. No gray area, where before we might have had some leeway," Pugh said. "Now it's clear-cut. But I don't want to say we've gotten more vanilla. We're just making sure we're harping on certain techniques and being real specific."
With four weeks to go in the season and big bodies naturally breaking down all around the league every December, the injury toll for the Giants is likely to climb even higher by season's end. They had three players miss practice Wednesday -- Rashad Jennings with an ankle injury and James Brewer and Mark Herzlich with concussion symptoms. They weren't the strongest roster in the league to begin with, and they've been wracked by injury more than any other team.
"I wish I had an answer for you," Coughlin said. "A lot of people want to go on and on about, 'Do we have enough offseason?' And I think that might legitimately be something to bring up at some point in time. But we offer no excuses, and we certainly have always maintained that position. I feel bad for the guys that are hurt. It's the nature of our business, unfortunately. We push forward."
1. Can they stop the run? Dallas has the No. 2 rushing offense in the league at 153.2 yards per game, and Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray leads the NFL with 1,233 rushing yards (123.3 per game). The Giants' run defense is the worst in the league, allowing 145 rush yards per game. You don't have to be Vince Lombardi to spot the potential for a mismatch here. Murray ran for 128 yards in the Cowboys' Week 7 victory over the Giants in Dallas, and the Cowboys as a team had 156. There has been no indication in their three games since that the Giants have tightened up against the run, and unless they play tougher up front, they're going to have a hard time keeping Dallas from controlling the clock and the time of possession with its ground game.
2. Can they stop Dez Bryant? The Cowboys' star wideout had 151 yards on nine catches in the Week 7 matchup in spite of a generally strong coverage performance by cornerback Prince Amukamara, who was on Bryant because Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was too banged-up. Amukamara has since been placed on injured reserve, and while Rodgers-Cromartie is healthier this week than he was that week, he's still not healthy enough to play a full game at full strength. The Giants believe Rodgers-Cromartie could cover Bryant if he were fully healthy. It's kind of the reason they signed him. But he's not fully healthy, and without Amukamara as a fallback, the Giants will have to get creative in their coverage schemes to try to slow down Bryant, who has eight touchdown catches already this season.
3. Can they stop turning the ball over? Two fumbles cost the Giants a chance to win that Week 7 game in Dallas, and the five interceptions quarterback Eli Manning threw last week cost them a chance to beat the San Francisco 49ers. Manning had just six interceptions all year up until last week, so there's still a chance that game holds up as a fluke when it's all said and done. But if the Giants can't do a better job keeping the defensive pressure off of Manning than they've done the past couple of weeks, he's liable to keep throwing those back-breaking interceptions
@DanGrazianoESPN: I do. I think Odell Beckham Jr. is a clear bright spot in this offense who, since he's returned from his hamstring injuries, has shown he can handle anything they ask of him. He's got speed. He runs good routes. I don't think I've seen him drop a ball all season, even in practice. He appears, based on the very limited sample size to date, to be the real deal from a talent standpoint. And I think he will get better. He had that long 59-yard catch Monday night where he kind of pulled up and started protecting the ball instead of stretching to run all the way to the end zone, and after the game he said his legs didn't have any more to give on that play, so he decided just to make sure nobody stripped the ball from him.
First of all, smart play in the moment. Second of all, it speaks to the fact that this kid didn't have a training camp and is likely to be better next season when he's had a full offseason to get his legs in shape. As for moving him around the formation, they believe they can do that, and it will come with time. But from what we've seen, I believe he can handle even more than he's been asked to handle so far.
@DanGrazianoESPN: I think it's entirely possible that the Giants will find more opportunities to work undrafted rookie wide receiver Corey Washington into the offense more going forward. What I don't think is that they'll force it just because he caught a garbage-time touchdown Monday that was reminiscent of the preseason performances that got him on the team. Nor do I think they'll force it just because Preston Parker dropped a bunch of passes Monday. I think, when it comes to Washington, that the Giants will do what's best for Washington, and add more to his workload as they become convinced he can handle it.
I don't think they have any inclination to throw him to the wolves in the Seattle secondary this week, for example, and it's possible they could set back his development if they did that. Also, he's not going to play the slot position, and while it sounds simple enough to move Beckham there, Beckham is the higher priority and they're going to be cognizant of making sure they don't do anything to hurt his development either. Washington is a young, raw player who's shown promise. But the Giants aren't interested in rushing guys into roles for which they're not ready, regardless of how they look when nothing's at stake. I think it's possible Washington will develop into something, but to this point he's still a project, and the Giants will be patient as they continue to help him hone his game.
@DanGrazianoESPN: Good question. Bennett Jackson, the Giants' sixth-round pick, was on the practice squad, but he is yet another casualty of the cornerback injury mess, as he was placed on the practice squad/injured list a few weeks ago, ending his season along with those of Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride. Jackson is not an option for them again until next year.
Is B. Jackson on practice squad? Why doesn't he get a chance with the rash of injuries at CB? #nygmail— Stevie Bob (@StevieBob123) November 6, 2014
@DanGrazianoESPN: To be clear, this remains a big "if," because there's still a half of a season to go and the Giants' owners aren't looking to fire Tom Coughlin and replace him as head coach. However, your question presumes that they finish the season poorly and decide to make a change, which is of course possible. If that were to happen, obviously Harbaugh and Bowles would be names that would be kicked around, because they're likely to be among the very top head coaching candidates this coming offseason. I don't know how the Giants' hierarchy feels about either of them, so I can't speak to their chances. But my gut tells me that Harbaugh wouldn't be among their favored candidates because they tend to like stability in that role, and he doesn't seem to offer that. Not that they'd rule him out, but it's just my opinion that the volatility that comes along with Harbaugh wouldn't fit with what the Giants tend to seek in a head coach.
@DanGrazianoESPN: I'm going to assume this is a question about general manager Jerry Reese and not the coaching staff, which I addressed in the last answer. Fundamentally, my answer on Reese has not changed. I do not believe the Giants would even entertain the thought of changing GMs and I believe Reese to be totally safe. I believe he's ultimately responsible for the current state of this team because his terrible draft record has failed to produce foundation pieces on which to build. But the Giants don't make changes at GM and I believe they will let Reese continue to have the job and hope the 2013 and 2014 drafts start to bear fruit.
Thanks for all of your questions. Catch you Sunday from Seattle.
"I'm healthy enough," the New York Giants cornerback said. "The way things are, I don't have much choice. I'm playing."
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Jayron Hosley would move from the nickel corner position to the outside position opposite Rodgers-Cromartie in the base defense if Bowman can't play Sunday in Seattle. When the team goes to nickel (assuming no Bowman), Hosley would play inside and Chandler Fenner would be the outside corner opposite Rodgers-Cromartie. On the bench are Mike Harris, who was signed last week from the Lions' practice squad, and Chykie Brown, who was claimed on waivers this week after the Ravens released him Tuesday.
Fewell said Hosley and Fenner would get the first crack because they've been with the team all year, but that they would work to get Harris and Brown up to speed as quickly as possible. He also said the coaching staff would have to simplify their coverage plans because of the rash of injuries.
"When you have new faces, you cannot and will not do as much as you've done in the past," Fewell said. "We'll have to simplify our package."
Fewell said verbal communication would be key for a secondary that hasn't played together very much -- that guys will have to make sure they're calling out and repeating calls rather than relying on each other's body language. No easy task, and the players know it. But they also know it's a fact of life.
"It's football. There's a 100 percent chance of injury when you play this game," Hosley said. "That's why you have to have depth on your depth chart, and the team has to have confidence in those guys to get it done. It's a big loss in terms of experience in the secondary, but at the same time, we know we have talent on our defense and in our secondary. It might take a little bit of time for guys to get confidence in playing new positions, but it will work out."
Obviously, the first concern is that it's not a serious problem. But from a roster standpoint, if Bowman has to miss Sunday's game in Seattle, his absence would leave the Giants impossibly short at the position.
Earlier this week, the Giants placed starting cornerback Prince Amukamara on injured reserve with a torn biceps. Earlier this year, they placed nickel cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride and sixth-round rookie cornerback Bennett Jackson on injured reserve.
If Bowman is unable to play, the current group of Giants cornerbacks is as follows: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (who himself has been severely limited over the past month with back and leg injuries), Jayron Hosley, Chandler Fenner, Mike Harris (signed last week off the Lions' practice squad) and Chykie Brown (claimed off waivers Wednesday after being cut by the Ravens). They also have rookie Victor Hampton on the practice squad.
Rodgers-Cromartie would be one of the starters, and after that, it's anyone's guess. Harris and Brown have experience but just got here. Hosley's struggling enough in the nickel spot as it is. The Seahawks don't have a high-powered downfield passing game, but they sure could look like they do if this is the group the Giants show up with on Sunday.
In other practice news...
- Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, who missed Wednesday's practice with a knee injury, took part in stretching but was only an observer when individual drills began Thursday.
- Running back Rashad Jennings also warmed up with the team -- something he hasn't done in a few weeks. But he was absent from drills as well and still seems to be targeting Week 11's game against San Francisco for his return from a knee injury.
- Offensive lineman Adam Snyder sat out of practice with a sore knee.
- Left guard Weston Richburg was practicing in spite of the sprained ankle he suffered in Monday's game.
- Guard Geoff Schwartz also was taking part in drills, but he has yet to be activated from short-term injured reserve and doesn't seem likely to play Sunday.
Brown was a fifth-round draft choice of the Ravens out of the University of Texas in 2011. Baltimore released him Tuesday as part of a thorough overhaul of their own secondary in the wake of Ben Roethlisberger's six-touchd0wn performance against them Sunday. He's not likely to step in and replace Amukamara as a starter -- at least not right away. But he adds veteran depth to a group that's down to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zack Bowman, Jayron Hosley, Chandler Fenner and Mike Harris, who signed just last week.
Cornerback was the Giants' deepest and strongest-looking position group in training camp, but Amukamara, Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride have all suffered season-ending injuries, and Rodgers-Cromartie is struggling as he plays through persistent back and hamstring injuries.
Brown's first name is pronounced "SHOCK-ee," in case you were wondering.
A team can bounce back from an embarrassing defeat. But the loss of Amukamara to a torn biceps severely compromises the Giants' secondary, which was already stretched rather thin.
Nickel cornerback Walter Thurmond and his replacement, Trumaine McBride, have already suffered season-ending injuries. Now Amukamara is almost certainly done for the season as well. And Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who starts opposite Amukamara on the outside, is banged up, too -- in and out of the lineup the past few games, and clearly playing at less than 100 percent.
Amukamara was having his best season to date since the Giants drafted him in 2011, with a career-high three interceptions in the first seven games.
The secondary was supposed to be the strength of the Giants' defense this season. But they entered this week ranked 25th in the league in passing yards allowed per game (262.4), and gave up 345 to Luck & Co. on Monday night.
Even on a play on which Rodgers-Cromartie had excellent coverage, early in the third quarter, Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton wrestled the ball away while falling to the ground in the end zone for an Indianapolis touchdown.
"As I was coming down, he was coming up and the helmet hit the ball and adjusted it and he made the play, took it on the way down," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "I gotta finish. That's a play I have to make."
The Giants stocked up on cornerbacks in the offseason, signing Rodgers-Cromartie to a big contract and bringing in Thurmond from the Super Bowl champion Seahawks. Yet now, only halfway through the season, they're left with a less-than-100 percent Rodgers-Cromartie and Zack Bowman on the outside, and Jayron Hosley in the slot.
Hosley did not look very good Monday night, so you may see the Giants turn more frequently to a three-safety look featuring Antrel Rolle, Quintin Demps and Stevie Brown, which they used a few times against the Colts after Amukamara went down.
"Man, it's hard. You already lose Walter, Trumaine, and now you lose Prince -- that's three core guys, three guys we need," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "If you look at them, all three of them were playing at a high level. So it's gonna be hard, but we gotta have a next-man-up mentality. Us in the secondary gotta fight that much harder, gotta go out there and play that much harder."
Unfortunately, that may not be enough.
More injuries: Starting left guard Weston Richburg suffered a right ankle injury in the second half and was carted off the field. Later on he was seen exiting the locker room on crutches, with his foot in a protective boot.
"I don't know. I haven't heard anything on that," Coughlin said. "He had X-rays. I would be foolish to say anything about it until I hear [more]."
Also, wide receiver Preston Parker was wearing a boot on his left foot after the game. We should get more details on these injuries Tuesday afternoon, when Coughlin takes questions from the media via a conference call.
- Defensive end Robert Ayers had seven quarterback hits, a sack and a forced fumble but didn't feel like talking about it. "I don't do moral victories," he said.
- Asked about the challenge of sacking Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, Ayers said, "He's about my size and he's faster than me. He knows what you're trying to do. He's the real deal, one of the candidates for MVP."
- Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said he had Luck picked off in the end zone over top of T.Y. Hilton, but that Hilton's helmet hit the ball and adjusted it in Rodgers-Cromartie's arms, allowing Hilton to take it from him on the way down and turn it into a touchdown pass. "Just got to be stronger there," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "That's a play I make 10 out of 10 times, but I didn't make it."
- Rodgers-Cromartie says he's still troubled by back and leg injuries but will keep playing through them, especially in the wake of the injury to fellow corner Prince Amukamara. "When you're on that field, you get that adrenaline rush and you don't feel some things," he said. "I don't think 'limited.'"
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 40-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night at MetLife Stadium.
What it means: If you still had hopes of a Giants playoff run this year, they took a major hit, as the Giants fell to 3-5 for the season. At the midway point, they sit three games behind the first-place Philadelphia Eagles (to whom they lost) and 2½ games behind the second-place Dallas Cowboys (to whom they also lost). They're only a half-game ahead of last-place Washington (whom they beat). A turnaround in time to reach this year's postseason would be a miracle.
Stock Watch: The secondary, DOWN. The early injury to cornerback Prince Amukamara could be a tough one to overcome. Amukamara has a torn biceps, and it's likely he will need surgery that would end his season. That would be a huge blow to a secondary that's already playing without cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride and that isn't able to count on banged-up Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to play an entire game. It also would be sad for Amukamara, who is having a fine season and hoping for a long-term contract with the team.
Offense takes a step back: Maybe it was all of the confusion last week stemming from GM Jerry Reese's comments that they needed to be more aggressive, but the Giants' offense never looked in sync in this game, which was close until the third quarter. They can't get the run game going without Rashad Jennings, the receiving corps is thin and young and drops too many passes, and for the first time in a while they didn't look like they consistently knew what they wanted to do. Whether it's working or not, the Giants need to stick to an offensive game plan. Monday night's looked disjointed. Remember, their coordinator/playcaller, Ben McAdoo, is a rookie, too.
Game Ball: DE Robert Ayers. Asked to take on a larger role with defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins out, Ayers was a terror, collecting one sack and hitting Colts quarterback Andrew Luck a whopping seven times in the game. Ayers needs to be a larger part of the pass rush going forward.
What's next: On a short week, the Giants travel to Seattle for a 4:25 p.m. ET game Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks, who are 20-2 at home since the start of the 2012 season.