New York Giants: Ryan Torain

Big Blue Morning: Auditions continue

October, 16, 2013
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants.

The news of the day: I'm not sure what I'd still be writing about at this point if not for the Giants' rapidly spinning running back carousel. But on Tuesday they waived/injured Da'Rel Scott and had a bunch of guys in for workouts, including former Browns star Peyton Hillis and former Giants Ryan Torain and D.J. Ware. As I understand it, all of the guys who worked out Tuesday will be back in the building for physicals Wednesday, and the Giants plan to sign one or maybe even two of them. Remember that starter David Wilson is out a few more weeks with his neck injury and fill-in Brandon Jacobs has a hamstring injury of his own. In other news, the Giants remained at No. 31 in this week's edition of the Power Rankings, and you can watch Mike Sando, Jamison Hensley and myself discuss the Power Rankings in this most excellent Spreecast video session.

Behind enemy lines: This is going to be some clash of the NFL juggernauts on "Monday Night Football" between the 0-6 Giants and the 1-4 Vikings, who are 29th in the Power Rankings. One of their players said it's starting to feel like the team's 3-13 season of two years ago. Yipes.

Around the division: Calvin Watkins looks back at the draft-day trade that ended with the Cowboys picking center Travis Frederick and adding a pick that ended up being wide receiver Terrance Williams. In light of the team's significant injuries on the defensive line, that deal is being called into question once again. But a huge part of what's gone right for the Cowboys this season has been the improved play of their offensive line. Not to mention what a good job Williams has done filling in for the injured Miles Austin.

Around the league: With Peyton Manning's Broncos heading to Indianapolis on Sunday to play Andrew Luck and the Colts, Mike Wells asked Colts fans whether they regret the team's decision to move on from all-time great Manning and draft Luck with the first pick in the 2012 draft. Most of the folks Mike found support the decision, which was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to replace one all-time great with a prospect who looks as though he has the ability to be another.

New York Giants cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
Most significant move: It was 2011 second-round draft pick Marvin Austin who was the odd man out of the numbers game at defensive tackle when the New York Giants announced their final roster cuts Saturday night. Austin was beaten out for a roster spot by former Eagle Mike Patterson, whose final two years in Philadelphia were negatively impacted by a brain condition for which he underwent surgery. Patterson and veteran Shaun Rogers were impressive in camp and will join a deep defensive tackle rotation along with starters Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins as well as 2013 second-rounder Johnathan Hankins. The reason the move is possibly significant is that this was the position from which the Giants were most likely to cut someone who could be of use to another team. If I'm the Dallas Cowboys, who are banged-up and shorthanded on the defensive line and play the Giants eight days from right now I'm looking into Austin if only for some intel on the enemy. Austin showed potential, but early-career injury issues held back his development, and he didn't perform well enough this offseason to earn a place on the team.

Shorthanded September?: Obviously, there are always more moves to come in the next few days as the Giants sort through the waiver process and see which players who just became available today could be of use to them. One spot where the Giants likely will look to beef up is at running back. They terminated the contract of Ryan Torain, leaving them with four running backs on the roster -- starter David Wilson, backups Michael Cox and Da'Rel Scott and "co-starter" Andre Brown, who's likely out four to six weeks with a fracture in his left leg. Keeping Brown indicates that the Giants do indeed expect him back at some point during the season, but it also leaves them with only three healthy backs to start the season. It's possible they could put Brown on injured reserve with a designation to return this season, but they can't do that until Tuesday. If they did, they could add a running back (or a player at some other position). Brown is one of at least seven players (along with Victor Cruz, Henry Hynoski, David Baas, David Diehl, Jason Pierre-Paul and Damontre Moore) whose status for the early part of the season is in doubt or worse due to injury, so there may not be a lot of wiggle room in picking inactives for the opener.

What's next: Based on performance, the release of Tyler Sash isn't overly surprising, but it does leave the Giants thin at the safety position and leads you to believe they'll try to acquire another safety at some point this week. The first name that will jump to mind is that of former Giant Kenny Phillips, who obviously knows the defense and was released by the Eagles last week. But don't assume they'll view Phillips as their best option. The main reason they let him go this offseason was their concern that he'd never be able to get his knee fully healthy, and the reason the Eagles (who aren't exactly strong at safety themselves) let him go was because he couldn't get healthy enough to practice. The Giants like what rookie Cooper Taylor has shown lately, and they like Will Hill as an option at safety, so they may decide they only need to weather the four games for which Hill is suspended to start the season. While Phillips is a possibility, there will be other choices, and likely a few the Giants like better.

Giants moves:

Waived: DE Matt Broha, OT Stephen Goodin, S David Caldwell, OL Matt McCants, CB Charles James, CB Terrence Frederick, WR Julian Talley, LB Kyle Bosworth, DE Adrian Tracy, DE Adewale Ojomo, DT Marvin Austin, OL Eric Herman, OL Bryant Browning, WR Kevin Hardy, WR Marcus Harris

Contracts terminated: QB David Carr, RB Ryan Torain

Waived/injured: S Tyler Sash, OL Selvish Capers

Reserve/physically unable to perform list: DT Markus Kuhn (knee)

Injured reserve: WR Ramses Barden (knee)

Suspended: S Will Hill

David Wilson is ready for more work

August, 30, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In the wake of Andre Brown's latest injury -- a left leg fracture suffered in the New York Giants' preseason finale Thursday night in New England -- running back David Wilson is prepared to work. Third-down carries, goal-line carries ... whatever they've got for him, Wilson wants it.

"I'm in shape, so I think I can handle it," the second-year back said Friday afternoon of the prospect of an increased workload. "Whatever they need me to do, I'll do. If they need me to kick a field goal, I'm going to go out there and give it 100 percent and try and make that field goal."

[+] EnlargeDavid Wilson
AP Photo/Julio CortezDavid Wilson will have to grind out tough yards for the Giants with Andre Brown injured.
It's not likely they'll need that, but Wilson could well get more touchdowns for whatever length of time Brown is out. Brown was the Giants' goal-line running back last year, collecting eight touchdowns in only 10 games before a more severe leg break ended his season early, and he was ticketed for that role again this year. But that assignment had more to do with how good Brown is at it than any concern over Wilson's ability to handle goal-line work.

"David Wilson, he runs in there hard," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He's powerful. He's compact. He has tremendous leg strength. So for him to run the ball on short yardage and the goal line, I don't have any problem with that."

It's true that Wilson's electric speed and his relative short stature (he's listed at 5-foot-9, 205 pounds) contribute to a reputation that he's a finesse back. But when you watch him run between the tackles, it's easy to see that he runs with power.

"Don't get confused by my size," Wilson said. "I'm a physical guy. I'm from the country. I grew up chopping wood. I'm well put together."

So that shouldn't be an issue. The larger one is that Brown was the back the Giants were using on third downs and in critical pass-protection situations. The departure of Ahmad Bradshaw, who rates as one of the top pass-protection running backs in the league, has created a void in that area, and it seemed as though the Giants coaches were more comfortable with Brown picking up blitzes than they were with Wilson doing it.

But Wilson did a good job of that Thursday night, picking up a blitzing Patriots safety on a play that resulted in a 37-yard pass play from Eli Manning to Louis Murphy, and he said he's considerably more comfortable with the protection schemes than he was a year ago or even a month ago. He's been watching tape of Bradshaw and applying lessons Bradshaw and Brown have tried to teach him about blitz-pickup technique over the past year.

"He's done a pretty good job of that," Coughlin said. "The last couple of games, he's improved. He's a much improved player, much more aware of what he has to do to contribute in the entire pass-protection scheme."

Coughlin did say they wanted to monitor Wilson's snaps this year, and that there is a number they have in mind for him that won't change just because of Brown's injury. But it's possible the Giants could move more toward a "bell cow" running back scheme, with Wilson getting the vast majority of the significant carries while backups such as Ryan Torain, Da'Rel Scott and Michael Cox contribute when he needs a rest. Coughlin also said the team was awaiting the results of further tests on Brown's leg to determine how long he'd be out, and that roster cuts and the decision on whether to seek outside help at running back would wait until they had all of the information on Brown.

Meantime, Wilson is fine with whatever they throw at him. He wouldn't even mind if they gave him back those kick-return duties in which he was so explosive a year ago.

"We're still waiting for the verdict," Wilson said. "Michael Cox has been doing a pretty good job with it, so we'll see. I still want it, but if somebody's going to take advantage like he is, that's all right, too."
A look at some of the tough decisions confronting the New York Giants in advance of Saturday's 6 p.m. ET deadline to reduce their roster to 53 players.

Defensive tackle: Could they keep six? Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Shaun Rogers and Johnathan Hankins look like locks. They may not be ready to give up on 2011 second-round pick Marvin Austin. And veteran Mike Patterson has played well in the preseason. (Markus Kuhn, we assume, will start the season on the physically unable to perform list.) To keep both Austin and Patterson, the Giants likely would have to give up a roster spot at linebacker or defensive back, and honestly my current 53-man projection doesn't include a spot for defensive end Adrian Tracy. So the odds say the Giants will have to cut at least one defensive lineman they like, and who could be snatched up quickly by another team (cough * Cowboys * cough) looking for help on the defensive line.

Running back: The Andre Brown injury clouds this, because he may or may not need a 53-man roster spot depending on the severity of his injury. But assuming Brown and his fractured left leg aren't on the 53, there's no reason they can't keep all five from the group of David Wilson, Henry Hynoski, Ryan Torain, Da'Rel Scott and Michael Cox. Torain is a guy they like as a pass protector, and Cox may well be the new kickoff returner. If they cut someone from the Scott/Torain/Cox group, it's likely because they decided they needed a sixth wide receiver or a fourth tight end.

Offensive line: I have them keeping nine, including injured David Diehl, and if they only keep nine, that likely means good-bye to prospect Eric Herman, whom they like as a project guard.

Quarterback: Assuming they keep fourth-round pick Ryan Nassib, they have to take three quarterbacks, because Nassib isn't ready yet to fill in as the backup if something happens to Eli Manning. The competition for QB2 is between David Carr and Curtis Painter. Flip a coin, honestly. And part of me even wonders how sure we should be about Nassib's spot. He didn't show a lot in camp or preseason. Are they really so bound and determined to develop a young quarterback behind Manning that they'd spend that roster spot on a guy who probably won't play all year?

Defensive back: Charles James was getting a lot of punt-return work in the preseason and would give the Giants 10 defensive backs (six cornerbacks and four safeties) if they kept him. They'll need a spot for Will Hill after Week 4, so somebody from this group could be a short-timer. Tyler Sash's concussion bears watching, but if he has to miss time, they probably have to go and get a safety from somewhere else.
Your daily morning check-in on New York Giants-related news and notes:

The news of the day: Giants running back Andre Brown fractured his left leg in the second quarter of Thursday night's preseason finale in New England. Obviously rotten news for Brown, who broke the same leg last November, but also for the Giants, who were planning to use him as a significant part of their running game this season. While they have high hopes for second-year back David Wilson, the Giants listed the pair as co-starters on their depth chart and had been using Brown exclusively on passing downs and at the goal line this preseason. He's a better pass protector than Wilson is, and the departure of Ahmad Bradshaw has left a major hole in that area. Brown's physicality and understanding of the Giants' blocking schemes are assets on which they planned to rely.

Brown will obviously miss a significant amount of time, if not the whole season, so the question is about replacements. My guess is that Wilson would take over the goal-line duties since it was Brown's proficiency in that area, rather than any deficiency on Wilson's part, that led to the arrangement in the first place. But as for who'll play on third downs and in critical pass-protection situations, it's not so clear-cut. I know they like former Redskins running back Ryan Torain -- who was the next running back into the game after Brown got hurt -- as a pass protector. And Da'Rel Scott got significant action Thursday night for the first time this preseason and looked good as a runner. Rookie Michael Cox has impressed as a runner and a kick returner, but he likely has more to learn in protection. Veteran free-agent options still available include Michael Turner and Willis McGahee, each of whom has a good reputation for pass protection, and more guys will become available in the coming days. But it's entirely possible the Giants roll with what they already have at running back.

Around the division: Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III says, with typical dramatic flourish, that he's been cleared to play following offseason knee surgery. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan declined to say for sure whether Griffin would start in the "Monday Night Football" opener in Week 1 against Philadelphia. Have to believe Shanahan's just playing some Shanahan-style mind games here with the Eagles. Regardless, Griffin and the Redskins aren't the Giants' problem until December. ... The Giants' Week 1 opponents, the Dallas Cowboys, are dealing with injury issues on the defensive line. Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff is on the PUP list and out for at least the first six weeks, and it sounds as though defensive end Anthony Spencer may be a question mark for the opener as well. So the Giants aren't the only ones who are worried about being at full strength nine days from now when the games count.

Around the league: Giants owner John Mara is happy with the settlement of the concussion litigation against the league, which you'd expect him to be, because it's fantastic for the league and the owners that the thing got settled. But while the settlement is good for the league, my belief is that it could end up being bad for the game of football. Much of what the league has done in recent years in terms of its emphasis on player safety and health has been motivated by fears stemming from the possible consequences of the concussion litigation. With that fear removed, can we be sure the league will still be proactive on player-safety issues? Less accountability for the NFL and its owners is probably not a good thing. They got what they wanted here, which was for the thing to go away. But keep an eye out going forward to see what effect their relief has on their concern for player safety.

Notebook: Torain and Scott ready to fill in

August, 30, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Saturday's final cuts day will be a nerve-wracking one for Da'Rel Scott.

But the New York Giants backup running back hoped he showed he might help fill the void left by when Andre Brown suffered a broken leg in Thursday's 28-20 loss to the New England Patriots.

Scott rushed for 25 yards on four carries and scored a touchdown on a six-yard catch in the third quarter.

The Giants will have a decision to make as to what to do about Brown's injury and how many running backs to keep on the active roster. Brown feels he can be back soon and won't need the temporary injured-reserve designation. The Giants, though, will need to keep a few running backs behind David Wilson. Scott and Ryan Torain hope they will be able to stick.

"We are definitely a great running-back group and will help pick up the slack," said Torain, who rushed for 14 yards on six carries. "I most definitely know we can get the job done. We will keep Dre in our prayers."

Seventh-round pick Michael Cox has impressed the coaching staff in camp and has been returning kickoffs. Cox had just four carries on for minus-2 yards, but he might have shown enough to stick. Scott hopes he will return for a third season.

"It’s always a numbers game," he said. "Nothing is guaranteed. I am still worried about (Saturday's cuts), so it is in God’s hands right now. Just hope and pray on Saturday I don’t get a call."

Starvin' Marvin: Marvin Austin, fighting for a roster spot in a crowded defensive-tackles unit, hopes he has shown to either the Giants or another team that he can play in the NFL.

"I went out there, I left it on the field," said Austin, who had one tackle against the Pats. "The opportunities that I had, I tried to go out there and make plays. I played within the scheme of the defense. I think technically I played my best game, just as a technician. I didn’t make as many plays as I would love to make."

The Giants have a really difficult decision to make ahead of Saturday's deadline with their defensive tackles. After starters Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins, the Giants have Shaun Rogers, second-round pick Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson and Austin. There's also Markus Kuhn, who is on the physically unable to perform list.

"We’ve got dogs," said Austin, the Giants' second-round pick in 2011. "Everybody on that D-line can play, as you can see. Pro Bowlers. Former Pro Bowlers. ... At the end of the day I can be happy with the effort that I gave. I went out there, gave everything that I could’ve for this organization because they gave me an opportunity when another organization wouldn’t."

Austin was hoping to end the preseason with a sack on Tim Tebow. He did end up delivering a shot to Tebow on an interception in the second half.

"I wanted him," Austin said. "They’re trying to go out there, get your sack and do the Tebow. That’s what everybody was talking about, going out there and putting their hands around Tebow because he’s a guy who’s gotten a lot of media attention and stuff like that. If you’re trying to make a team, you go out there and put your hands around him, that could get your name out there."

Austin did put the shot on Mark Sanchez that knocked him out last week. Austin hopes he has shown enough this preseason to stick with the Giants.

One more time: Mark Herzlich finished the preseason strong, with eight tackles, an interception and a pass batted down... Patterson was a presence with 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hits... Defensive ends Matt Broha, Justin Trattou and Adewale Ojomo each had a sack on Tebow... Cornerback Trumaine McBride had an interception and a hit that led to Herzlich's interception, but also missed a tackle that led to a Patriots touchdown.

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 28, Giants 20

August, 29, 2013

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. –- The New York Giants suffered yet another significant preseason injury Thursday, as running back Andre Brown broke his left leg during the Giants' 28-20 loss to the New England Patriots.

What it means: One week after losing safety Stevie Brown for the season to a torn ACL in a preseason game, Andre Brown breaks his left leg. It’s the same leg on which Andre fractured his fibula against the Packers on Nov. 25 last year. The Giants said Andre could have returned that season if they made it to the Super Bowl, so he could be a candidate for the injured reserve/"designated to return" spot that would allow him to come back after eight weeks.

Andre Brown’s injury is a blow to the running game. Coach Tom Coughlin wanted a one-two punch with David Wilson and Brown, who is the Giants’ most well-rounded running back. Brown could run with power and speed and catch out of the backfield and was the team’s best pass-protecting back. The team will now have to depend on and trust Wilson even more. Seventh-round pick Michael Cox might move up to the backup spot. Ryan Torain’s and Da’Rel Scott’s chances of making the team have increased with Saturday’s final cuts looming.

The Giants could also always look outside and see what is available, especially after teams make final cuts on Saturday.

More injuries: Brown wasn’t the only Giant to suffer an injury. Backup safety Tyler Sash suffered a concussion, and the Giants were already smarting there with the loss of Stevie Brown for the year. With Will Hill having to serve a four-game suspension to start the regular season, the Giants can’t afford to lose Sash for an extended amount of time. Rookie Cooper Taylor will be behind starters Antrel Rolle and Ryan Mundy if Sash has to miss time.

Also, tight end Adrien Robinson suffered an injury to what appeared to be his left foot. The severity of the injury wasn’t immediately known. Already this preseason, the Giants have watched starters such as Victor Cruz (heel), David Baas (left MCL), David Diehl (thumb) and the two Browns suffer injuries in preseason games.

Offense awakens: On a very small side note, the starting offense finished the preseason strong by scoring a touchdown in the red zone. After struggling in the preseason inside the opponent’s 20, Eli Manning orchestrated a 10-play, 91-yard drive that resulted in a 3-yard touchdown strike to Hakeem Nicks.

Manning opened the drive with a 37-yard completion to Louis Murphy. Manning also hit tight end Brandon Myers on a 10-yard gain, and Wilson had a 16-yard run as well on the drive.

One more time: Several Giants tried to make a final impression in the last preseason game. Defensive tackle Mike Patterson looked good, applying pressure to the quarterback several times and getting a sack and a half. Patterson might have solidified a roster spot with that performance. Marvin Austin, a second-round pick in 2011, might be fighting for a roster spot.

Middle linebacker Mark Herzlich also had a strong outing, snatching an interception off a deflection right before it hit the turf. Defensive ends Matt Broha, Justin Trattou and Adewale Ojomo all had sacks on Tim Tebow as well.

What’s next: The Giants will make final cuts on Saturday and play in Dallas in the season opener on Sept. 8.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- Giants safety Antrel Rolle left practice early Monday after coming down awkwardly during a one-on-one coverage drill.

According to a source, Rolle sprained his right ankle and it is not known how long he will be sidelined. Tom Coughlin did not know the severity of the injury right after practice. Rolle was set to undergo tests and an MRI.

Rolle was covering tight end Bear Pascoe on the play. He needed help to walk off the field and was carted back to the locker room. However, Rolle did not appear to be in serious pain.

“Must’ve (been) stepped on,” Coughlin said. “I am sure he will get everything (in terms of tests). That’s all I know. Hopefully it’s an ankle and he is coming right back.”

If Rolle misses time, the Giants will have to depend on safety Ryan Mundy -- Mundy got snaps with the first team Monday in place of Rolle. But the Giants can't afford to lose Rolle for an extended period of time. He has led the team in tackles the past two seasons, and has played in all 16 games the past three years.

DaMonster sits: Damontre Moore, the star of the preseason opening win over the Steelers, watched practice Monday with a shoulder contusion. Coughlin said the third-round pick is day-to-day.

Moore blocked a punt and was incredibly active on defense in Pittsburgh.

Cornerback Corey Webster and wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan did not practice due to soreness from the preseason game, according to Coughlin.

"He’s got a little soreness so we just held him," Coughlin said of Webster. "Hopefully it will be quick."

Safety Cooper Taylor (hamstring) and tackle James Brewer (concussion) also did not practice.

Welcome back: First-round pick Justin Pugh (concussion), defensive end Justin Tuck (back) and running back Ryan Torain (concussion) were back on the field Monday. Pugh is thrilled to be back from his first concussion ever.

Injury report: Tuck to practice; Pugh ready

August, 11, 2013
Justin Tuck (back) is expected to return to practice on Monday, according to head coach Tom Coughlin.

Tuck did not play in the preseason opener after missing two practices last week with tightness in his back. The defensive captain, though, expected to be fully recovered for this week's practices.

Also, first-round pick Justin Pugh (concussion) will be ready to practice this week.

"Pugh has been cleared to return to practice," Coughlin said in a conference call with reporters.

Coughlin said the team will find out more on Monday about running back Ryan Torain's status. Torain has been out with a concussion since last week. Also, tackle James Brewer (concussion) is improving and nearing a return as well.

Coughlin said wide receiver Kris Adams was undergoing surgery on a fractured left ankle and offensive lineman Chris DeGeare was being evaluated for an MCL injury. Both players suffered the injuries during the Giants' 18-13 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

W2W4: Giants at Steelers

August, 9, 2013
The New York Giants begin erasing the memory of last season's failed title defense with their preseason opener in Pittsburgh.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Here's what to watch for:

Start, then finished: The starters will play only about 12 to 15 snaps, according to coach Tom Coughlin. It will be interesting to see if Eli Manning is in sync with Victor Cruz after not having worked with him for much of the offseason, due to Cruz's contract negotiations. The two have appeared to be on the same page during training camp. We also get our first look at how Manning works with tight end Brandon Myers.

Wide receiver Rueben Randle looks to continue an impressive summer. It remains to be seen if Hakeem Nicks will play, as the team has been taking a cautious approach with its star receiver to make sure he will be at full strength for the season.

Wilson! We should get our first glimpse at David Wilson as the starting back. He's expected to start but share carries with Andre Brown. What might be more important than how many yards Wilson racks up is how he blocks on passing plays.

Keep an eye on the linebackers. All three starting jobs are up for grabs. Mark Herzlich will start at middle linebacker with Spencer Paysinger and Keith Rivers on the outside against the Steelers. MLB Dan Connor, OLB Jacquian Williams and OLB Aaron Curry are the second-teamers. Williams should also see snaps as a nickel linebacker.

Competition at defensive tackle. The Giants fortified their defensive interior by adding Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, drafting Johnathan Hankins and re-signing Shaun Rogers. Jenkins could start at defensive end against the Steelers if Justin Tuck (back) does not play. If that happens, Rogers might join Linval Joseph with the first-team defensive tackles. Keep an eye on Hankins, who has impressed thus far on the second team. Marvin Austin, the 2011 second-round pick, will need to show what he can do this preseason.

Opportunity knocks: There should be plenty of chances for young players such as defensive ends Adrian Tracy and Damontre Moore. Several Giants, including Jason Pierre-Paul (back), won't play. Right guard Chris Snee (hip) and cornerback Terrell Thomas (knee) just came off the PUP list this week and will sit. First-round pick Justin Pugh (concussion) will also be out. Tackle James Brewer (head), safety Cooper Taylor (hamstring) and running back Ryan Torain (head) also might not suit up.

Injury report: Tuck misses second practice

August, 8, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Justin Tuck missed a second straight day of practice due to stiffness in his back.

"Today was not what we wanted," coach Tom Coughlin said Thursday about Tuck. "He's not quite as nifty and nimble as we hoped. We will have to see [about Saturday's preseason opener]. I actually thought he would work today."

[+] EnlargeJustin Tuck
AP Photo/Seth Wenig Will Justin Tuck play Saturday? That's up in the air.
Tuck said before missing practice that he believes the issue isn't serious and hopes he will be healthy by next week. He isn't sure if he will play Saturday in Pittsburgh.

"I feel better than I did yesterday," Tuck said before practice. "I know exactly what it stemmed from ... but it is nothing serious. Just a little tightness."

"I've played in worst pain, I can tell you that," he added. "Just want to be smart and make sure it is nothing that will linger."

Tuck has worked hard this offseason to get in terrific shape. He wants to make sure that nothing will nag him this season, like some injuries have in the past.

"I don't think this is something that is going to be much more of an issue after this week," Tuck said.

Coughlin said right guard Chris Snee and cornerback Terrell Thomas will not play against Pittsburgh. Both veterans just came off the physically unable to perform list earlier this week and are being eased back into the flow.

"They don't have enough practice time," Coughlin said.

Offensive lineman Justin Pugh (concussion) also likely is out. Coughlin expects the first-round pick to be cleared for practice next week.

Coughlin wasn't sure if Hakeem Nicks will see snaps in the preseason opener. Nicks has been practicing this week, but the team is taking a cautious approach with its star receiver to make sure he enters the season at full strength.

Tackle James Brewer (concussion), safety Cooper Taylor (hamstring) and running back Ryan Torain (concussion) all watched practice from the side, and their availability for Saturday is in doubt.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (back), defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee) and fullback Henry Hynoski (knee) remain on the PUP list.

Wilson will be tested in Pittsburgh

August, 6, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants' starting running back job remains up for grabs, and the team's first preseason game against the Steelers will be a critical juncture.

David Wilson is the leading candidate. There's no question he's a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands, but the second-year pro is still a question mark when it comes to pass protection.

"David has worked diligently in learning the offense and being more confident about his job -- from that standpoint, he has a better awareness as far as what his job is," running backs coach Jerald Ingram said Tuesday. "Now physical [contact] and that kind of thing, that’ll be tested this week. We’re looking forward to that."

"We don’t have a true blitz drill here," Ingram added. "Playing against a physical team such as Pittsburgh will be a very good test for him. We’re gonna try to put him in as many situations as we can."

One of the best qualities of former Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw was his ability to pick up the blitz, and his willingness to sacrifice his body to protect Eli Manning.

Ingram believes that with Wilson, that same willingness is there.

"I don’t see he’s afraid to in any way, not at all," the coach said. "The guy’s got courage. He just has to learn how to."

Wilson said Tuesday that he has gotten stronger during the offseason, and is eager to show it off in Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

"I’m really looking forward to contact in this first preseason game," he said, "and getting back in the flow of how it feels to break a tackle and how it feels to make a block."

But he obviously won't be the only Giant in the backfield. Andre Brown is currently listed on the depth chart as a co-starter, and has been splitting the first-team reps with Wilson.

Brown wasn't a first-round pick, like Wilson. But he was very effective for the Giants last season before getting hurt, and is a much bigger back.

Ingram said the Giants saw great potential in Brown when they drafted him in the fourth round in 2009, but injuries stalled his progress.

"It’s a great opportunity for him, and I think he’s worked hard to be in that position right now," Ingram said. "He deserved it."

It remains to be seen how the Giants will divide the snaps and carries between Wilson and Brown in Pittsburgh, and beyond. But it's a safe bet both will see plenty of action. The Giants have a history of utilizing multiple running backs.

"I’m not quite sure how the coaches have it arranged," Wilson said. "When either one of us is in there, we’re just gonna do our job."

Da'Rel Scott is currently listed as the team's third running back, followed by Ryan Torain, and then rookie Michael Cox.

Ingram likes his group overall: "There’s some good solid looking young men that we’re pretty excited about in that position."

Camp preview: Running backs

July, 16, 2013
As training camp approaches, we're counting down to camp by taking a look at the Giants, position by position.

Position: Running backs.

Projected starters: RB David Wilson, FB Henry Hynoski.

Projected reserves: RB Andre Brown, RB Da'Rel Scott, RB Michael Cox, RB Ryan Torain.

[+] EnlargeDavid Wilson
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIDavid Wilson has an opportunity to earn the starting job.
New faces: Cox.

The departed: Ahmad Bradshaw, Kregg Lumpkin.

Player to watch: All eyes will be on Wilson, whose opportunity to be the lead back has come one season after being drafted in the first round. He has a lot to prove in camp and has been working hard to master the offense. Wilson needs to beat out Brown for the starting job and earn the trust of the coaching staff and Manning that he can protect the quarterback and recognize defenses. There is no doubting Wilson's warp speed and big-play ability. But will the coaches ultimately trust Wilson enough to give him ample enough carries to break off some of those monster runs and be a 1,000-yard rusher?

Potential strength: Tom Coughlin will likely split carries between Wilson and Brown, who should complement each other well. While Wilson brings the home-run threat, Brown offers the Giants a well-rounded option. He can run with power, can catch out of the backfield, block and excel in the short-yardage game.

If Brown is healthy after breaking his leg last year, don't be surprised to see the former well-traveled running back get the majority of carries in some games. He should be the goal-line back again. With Bradshaw gone, the coaches might trust the veteran Brown a bit more than Wilson at the moment. But they also love Wilson's explosive ability and acknowledge his improvement from last year. Coughlin will likely go with the hot hand and whomever he trusts in crunch time. Either way, the combination should offer some diversity to the running game.

Potential weakness: There's a lot of ifs when it comes to the running game this season. Even though Bradshaw was oft-injured, he was the heart and soul of the offense and the toughest player the Giants had. He also was their best pass protector in the backfield. Bradshaw was a major presence on the team in the locker room and one of the most respected Giants. The Giants didn't just lose Bradshaw -- they also lost Martellus Bennett's blocking with the tight end going to Chicago in free agency.

With Hynoski recovering from knee surgery and the possibility that the fullback might not be ready for the start of the season, the Giants have some run-blocking concerns. They will have to play Bear Pascoe at fullback more and Brandon Myers or Adrien Robinson will have to provide blocking at the tight end spot at times. And we still have to see who will start at right tackle –- David Diehl, James Brewer or Justin Pugh.

Wild card: Cox. Coughlin said Cox impressed him at times during rookie camp and OTAs and the head coach has often talked about how he loved having three backs contribute like the trio he once had in Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. The Giants would be thrilled to have a third back emerge whether it is seventh-round pick Cox or former seventh-round pick Scott.

Tell us what you think about the running backs entering camp.

Rapid Reax: Giants draft RB Michael Cox

April, 27, 2013
Michael CoxAP Photo/Tony DingUMass running back Michael Cox was one pick away from being Mr. Irrelevant.
PLAYER: Michael Cox
SCHOOL: Massachusetts

The Giants have had some luck taking a running back in the seventh round (Ahmad Bradshaw in 2007) and they are hoping to hit it big again. They selected Cox with the second-to-last pick of the draft -– their compensatory pick.

THE 411: Cox is a graduate-student transfer who originally was at Michigan. He only played in 15 games at Michigan and rushed for 169 yards on 19 carries. And in 12 games at UMass, Cox rushed for 715 yards and five touchdowns. But the Giants say that while the production is low, they like Cox’s attributes. They brought him in for a visit and believe he is fast for his size and has “excellent” hands according to Marc Ross, Giants director of college scouting.

HOW HE FITS IN: David Wilson and Andre Brown are the top two backs who will share carries and compete to start. But after that, the Giants have Da’Rel Scott and Ryan Torain.

PROJECTED IMPACT: The Giants hope Cox will be able to come in and push Scott and Torain for the third running back spot this season.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: “You don’t see a lot of production but if you look closely at this guy, we are excited about him,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “He is big, powerful, elusive guy with speed. He has got a lot of things that we like about him.”

Hightower to visit with Giants

March, 28, 2013
The Giants continue to scour the market for bargains as they'll bring in Tim Hightower for a visit.

A source confirmed that the former Redskins and Cardinals running back will meet with the Giants as first reported by the New York Daily News.

Hightower hasn't played in a regular-season game since Oct. 23, 2011 after tearing his ACL.

The Giants will take a look to see how his knee has healed and if he can compete for perhaps the third running back spot behind David Wilson and Andre Brown. The Giants currently have Da'Rel Scott and Ryan Torain behind their top two backs.

Hightower, 26, has scored a total of 25 touchdowns in his four-year career. He has rushed for 2,054 yards and 24 touchdowns and is a receiving threat out of the backfield. He had 63 receptions in 2009 with the Cardinals.

Bradshaw and Hixon looking: Ahmad Bradshaw was scheduled to visit with the Steelers on Wednesday, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reported.

Wide receiver Domenik Hixon, a free agent, was scheduled to visit with the Raiders according to CBS Sports.