New York Giants: Shaun Rogers

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

The news of the day: The Giants made some roster moves Thursday, including the decision to put running back David Wilson on season-ending injured reserve to make room for running back Andre Brown, who was activated from short-term IR. The Wilson decision has been coming for a while, though obviously he and the team hoped it wouldn't come to this. Multiple people I spoke with about the situation Thursday said they were optimistic that Wilson wouldn't need surgery on his neck and would recover fully in time for the 2014 season. But with Wilson needing a few more weeks before his next evaluation and the Giants only having eight games left anyway, this move made sense. The Giants also put defensive tackle Shaun Rogers on IR and activated defensive tackle Markus Kuhn from the physically unable to perform list. While the Rogers move was to make room for Kuhn, my guess is that the biggest beneficiary will be rookie defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who has impressed in limited action so far but has struggled to get on the field due to the numbers game at defensive tackle.

Behind enemy lines: Rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden showed up on the Raiders' injury report Thursday with a groin injury. Hayden was one of the biggest victims of the Eagles' and Nick Foles' seven-touchdown-pass onslaught Sunday, but losing him would hurt the Raiders' depth in the secondary and perhaps make them even more vulnerable to a potentially big game by Eli Manning and the Giants' passing attack.

Around the division: Really bad loss for the Redskins on Thursday night, as their offense stalled out in the second half and they lost on the road to a terrible Minnesota Vikings team. NFC East teams are now 8-15 this season in games played against teams in other divisions, and the Giants actually have a chance to catch the Redskins for third place with a win Sunday against the Raiders. And yes, the Redskins were 3-6 through nine games last year, too, and ended up winning the division, but it's important to remember that they had to win all seven of their remaining games to do it.

Around the league: There are no Giants on John Clayton's midseason All-Pro team, which is not really a surprise. Of the 26 players on the team, nine have played against the Giants this year, but that's largely because four of them are Chiefs. Anyway, thought you'd enjoy a look at the team in case you hadn't seen it already. And it beats the heck out of another Jonathan Martin note. Catch me on "NFL Insiders" at 3 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants continue to be very careful with wide receiver Victor Cruz, who missed Wednesday's practice with a neck injury but expects to be able to play Sunday against the Raiders.

Cruz returned to practice Thursday, but as he himself indicated the day before he did not participate to the extent that he usually does. During the portion of the practice that was open to the media, Cruz was on the field in a red jersey -- the kind quarterbacks wear to indicate a player with whom others aren't allowed to make contact. It was a No. 8 jersey, presumably David Carr's old one. Cruz did not participate in punt-return drills as he normally does. Wednesday, he said he expected to do "some third-down stuff" upon his return to practice Thursday.

I did not see defensive tackle Shaun Rogers at practice, which is interesting since he sat out Wednesday with a knee injury and Thursday is the deadline for the Giants to activate defensive tackle Markus Kuhn from the PUP list. If they did that, they'd need a roster spot, and Rogers would be a candidate for release or for injured reserve depending on the severity of his injury.

Thursday is also the deadline for the Giants to activate running back Andre Brown from the injured reserve/designated for return list, so they'll actually need to open two roster spots. The most likely move there seems to be putting injured starter David Wilson on season-ending IR, but more on that later as we get news.

In other practice-participation news, cornerbacks Corey Webster and Trumaine McBride spent the open portion on the exercise bikes with running back Brandon Jacobs. Webster and Jacobs' groin and hamstring injuries aren't new, but if McBride is hurt that would be news and not welcome news. He's played well in Webster's stead, and if he has to miss Sunday's game it would force the Giants to shuffle things in the secondary, possibly using Terrell Thomas outside and three safeties instead of a slot cornerback.

Thomas, tight end Adrien Robinson and cornerback Jayron Hosley were all practicing. Robinson could make his season debut Sunday and offer a big boost as a run-blocker and on special teams.

Jacobs, Rogers out again Friday

October, 25, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs (hamstring) and defensive tackle Shaun Rogers (knee) were not practicing Friday, at least during the portion of practice open to the media.

Jacobs hasn't practiced all week, meaning he probably won't be available for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. You can expect Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox to share the carries at running back for a second straight game.

Rogers, who led the Giants with four quarterback hits against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night, hasn't practiced all week either. If Rogers can't go against the Eagles, rookie Johnathan Hankins will likely be activated in his place. Hankins had five tackles against the Eagles in the teams' previous meeting in Week 5, but was inactive against the Vikings.

Cornerback Corey Webster (groin), who sat out practice Thursday, appeared to be doing some work Friday.

We'll have more information for you later, when the official injury report is released.

Injury report: No go for Jacobs, Webster

October, 24, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs (hamstring), defensive tackle Shaun Rogers (knee) and cornerback Corey Webster (groin) did not participate in practice Thursday.

Jacobs and Rogers also sat out Wednesday. Webster participated Wednesday on a limited basis.

Coach Tom Coughlin said Webster did not have a setback. "He's an every-other-day kind of a guy," Coughlin said.

Jacobs did stretch with the team at the beginning of practice, while reporters were allowed to be present. "Plus he did some running on the side," Coughlin said, "so we'll see when we get in there what the deal is."

On the bright side, linebacker Spencer Paysinger (ankle) practiced on a limited basis Thursday, after sitting out Wednesday.

Cornerbacks Terrell Thomas (knee) and Jayron Hosley (hamstring), and tight end Adrien Robinson (foot) were also limited Thursday.

NEW ADDITION: Coughlin confirmed that the Giants have added offensive lineman Dallas Reynolds to the roster, replacing Davis Baas, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Reynolds spent a few days with the team earlier this month before being cut.

Upon Further Review: Giants Week 7

October, 22, 2013
An examination of four hot issues from the New York Giants' 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings:

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Bill KostrounPeyton Hillis had 18 carries and a touchdown in his Giants debut.
The impact of Jon Beason: What's amazing is that Beason was only available in trade because he'd lost his starting outside linebacker job in Carolina to Giants castoff Chase Blackburn. After two games in New York you can make a legitimate case that Beason is the best defensive player on the team. Justin Tuck called him a "godsend" and spoke of Beason's impressive football knowledge and ability to direct traffic and get guys positioned on defense before the snap. Beason also plays fast and finds his way to the ball quickly. He looks like a very good middle linebacker, and it may be that he needed to be in the middle instead of on the outside where Carolina was using him. The extent of the upgrade he represents over what the Giants had been using at linebacker prior to his arrival speaks ill of the decision not to prioritize the position in the offseason.

What a little pressure can do: The Giants got only one sack, raising their league-worst team total to six for the season, but they did pressure Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman and it did matter. Antrel Rolle's interception came on a play on which Shaun Rogers was draped around Freeman's ankles. Tuck's sack came on third down. Both plays deprived the Vikings of at least field goal chances. The Giants' pass rush has been absent all year and must resurrect itself if they are going to win more games. It was encouraging that Jason Pierre-Paul (who now has one sack in his past 14 games) looked quicker off the ball in the first half, but he has to carry it through the game.

The Peyton Hillis thing: The newly signed Hillis made his best contribution as a receiver out of the backfield, catching five passes for 45 yards. He ran for a touchdown, but he had only 36 yards on 18 carries and the Giants averaged only 2 yards per rush attempt as a team. They didn't have to do much on offense to beat a Vikings team that looked as though it wasn't trying to score. And Hillis is a neat story if he really is making a comeback of any sort here. But to think the run game woes are suddenly solved would be a mistake.

Whither Hakeem Nicks? He was once again the Giants' most-targeted receiver, as Eli Manning threw his way 10 times. But Nicks caught only two passes for 28 yards. He can't seem to get separation from defenders, at all, anymore, which means he has to outfight them. And while he's capable of that, it's no way to go through a game and help your quarterback. Increasingly, Nicks looks like a guy who's not worth the No. 1 wide receiver money he seeks. And if he's still seeking it in March, he's not likely to be a Giant next year.

Giants' defense wants out of its rut

September, 8, 2013
Shaun Rogers and Cullen JenkinsUSA TODAY SportsThe additions of Shaun Rogers and Cullen Jenkins should help bolster New York's run defense.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The question was about the New York Giants' sparkling 4-0 record at Cowboys Stadium, which is now called AT&T Stadium and is where the Giants will open their regular season Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys. It was a leading question, about a point of Giants pride, and its author was asking it of almost everyone in the room. But the answer from Justin Tuck, captain of the Giants' defense, may have transcended the topic.

"I've never left from Jerry's World feeling good about our performance on defense," Tuck said. "Obviously, you feel good about the win, but we don't like to put the pressure on Eli [Manning] and the offense to have to score 30 points to win a game. I hope they only have to score 10. We have to play a great game."

Such this the state of the Giants' defense at the dawn of the 2013 season. They intend to be great. They believe they can be great. But when you get right down to it ... they haven't really been great for some time. Oh, there are spurts, sure. They were unquestionably great for a six-week stretch from late December 2011 to early February 2012, and that stretch helped deliver the franchise's fourth Super Bowl title. They were great last year in San Francisco, when they dominated the eventual NFC champs in a game that seemed to stamp them as a serious threat to defend their title.

But in the big picture ... not great. The Giants ranked 27th in the 32-team National Football League in total defense in the 2011 regular season. They dropped to 31st last year, when they finished with an identical 9-7 record that this time wasn't good enough to get them into the playoffs. Blame to go around, for sure, but one can't help but think fielding a top-30 defense might have meant the one more win they needed, right?

"It is quite motivating," Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said of that No. 31 ranking from a year ago. "It never goes out of my mind. You never want to be ranked last, or near last, in anything you compete at as a professional. So we are very motivated to erase that number and be a top defense in the league."

It's a long way back to anything resembling the top for these Giants, who as part of the plan to jump as many of those 30 spots as possible are counting on players like Tuck and cornerback Corey Webster to simply play better than they did in 2012. Both players say they're sure they can do it, but August talk is the cheapest talk and we'll start actually finding out tonight. Other parts of the improvement plan, Fewell said, include (a) supplementing the front four's pass rush with increased help from blitzing linebackers and (b) using players with larger backsides.

"We've got bigger butts," Fewell said. "Shaun Rogers is in there. Cullen Jenkins is in there. The butts are a lot bigger, so it looks different."

He laughed, as we all did, but he wasn't really kidding. Adding size at defensive tackle, as they did by bringing in Rogers, Jenkins, Mike Patterson and second-round pick Johnathan Hankins, was part of the Giants' offseason plan to beef up the middle of their defensive line and be tougher against the run.

"It's a huge factor is helping us be a better run defense," Fewell said. "The mass, the size, the strength is noticeably different for us."

All right. We can give him that. Defensive tackle appears to be the one spot at which the Giants clearly upgraded on defense this offseason. But questions remain in the secondary, where Webster is a mystery and Prince Amukamara is still emerging and safety is all kinds of banged up with Kenny Phillips gone and Stevie Brown out for the season with a torn ACL. They have their usual patchwork at linebacker, a position at which the plan appears to be for Fewell to rotate players in and out of the lineup depending on how their individual strengths and weaknesses mesh with the situation. And in the end, it all likely comes down to whether their pass-rushing defensive ends can be dominant, and whether they can be that way every week.

"We know what it's about for us," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "The reason it's frustrating is because one week we can look like the best defense in the league and then the next week, we go out and we don't. If you want to be one of the best defenses in the league, you have to do it week in and week out. And that's what we haven't done."

That's the mission for the Giants' defense as 2013 dawns -- to play back up to its old reputation and keep it there. If it doesn't, then things could start to look a lot different on that side of the ball starting next year. Tuck could be gone. Fewell could be gone. Webster and Antrel Rolle and who knows who else could be gone. The Giants may consider themselves underachievers, but one more year near the bottom of the league would make it hard for anyone else to believe they're not just a bad defensive team.

W2W4: Giants at Cowboys

September, 6, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- The New York Giants have waited nine months to erase the sour taste of last season’s failed title defense.

On Sunday night, they finally get back on the field looking to find consistency and a chance to do something they didn’t do last season –- start off on the right foot against the Dallas Cowboys.

Here are five things to watch for:

JPP’s back: Will Jason Pierre-Paul play and, more important, will his surgically repaired back hold up? The defensive end says he is a game-time decision, but Giants coach Tom Coughlin says a decision will be made well in advance about the team’s best defensive player. Considering that JPP practiced all week on a limited basis, but did everything he was asked and is making the trip, the Giants should have Pierre-Paul on the field barring an unforeseen setback.

But if he plays, how effective will he be and how many snaps will he play? Will he start, or rotate in behind Mathias Kiwanuka? Having him on the field, even if on a situational basis, could make a big difference. Remember, JPP once practically beat Dallas by himself with two sacks, a safety, a forced fumble and the block of a potential overtime-forcing field goal in a 2011 victory.

[+] EnlargeJason Pierre-Paul
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IITom Coughlin has likely already decided the status of Jason Pierre-Paul, who's played well in Dallas.
Big Blue got back: After finishing 31st overall in total defense last season, the Giants added a lot of beef on the front line. Or, as defensive coordinator Perry Fewell likes to say, “We’ve got bigger butts. … The butts are a lot bigger.”

Sir Mix-A-Lot would be proud. The Giants are hoping Cullen Jenkins', Linval Joseph's, Shaun Rogers', Johnathan Hankins' and Mike Patterson's big rear ends will help the defense be much stingier against the run than last season, and help spark the pass rush as well. Justin Tuck came into the season in terrific shape and is determined to perform in a contract year. Kiwanuka is back at his natural position and Jenkins will be used as an extra pass-rusher as well. The Giants’ front line has to have an impact on this game. Otherwise, the secondary could have another long night against Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

Cruz and Nicks: Victor Cruz says his bruised heel is ready to go. Hakeem Nicks says he feels as good as he has in a long time. Quarterback Eli Manning will need his two star receivers to get back to doing their normal damage against the Cowboys. Last season, Nicks had only eight receptions for 84 yards in two games against Dallas while dealing with foot and knee injuries. And Cruz totaled just eight catches for 81 yards in two games against Dallas.

The Giants need more from those two and Rueben Randle against the Cowboys' secondary on Sunday night if they’re going to remain a perfect 5-0 at Jerry World. We’ll see how in tune Manning is with Cruz and Nicks after having their offseason and training-camp practice time repeatedly interrupted by injury and a contract negotiation.

Wilson’s revenge: A year ago, David Wilson fumbled the second carry of his pro career against the Cowboys -- and it cost him dearly, as he was locked in Coughlin’s doghouse for the next 11 games. On Sunday night, he’ll open his second NFL season with the role of starter and Giants feature back. With Andre Brown out for the first eight weeks, Wilson is the man. He has to stay healthy. He must protect Manning in pass situations. If he can do both, he’ll get his share of touches and opportunities to deliver big plays, starting against the Cowboys.

Front line: Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride isn’t sure if he will have to alter his game plan according to his offensive line. If all goes well, he won't. The Giants will have two inexperienced starters on the line in first-round pick Justin Pugh at right tackle and James Brewer at left guard. Left tackle Will Beatty, center Kevin Boothe and right guard Chris Snee will surround the two with plenty of experience. The Giants hope the revamped line will get the ground game going and keep Manning clean.

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
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.

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.

Giants Stock Watch

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


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

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


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

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

W2W4: Giants vs. Jets

August, 23, 2013
The all-important third preseason game is upon us –- the MetLife Bowl between the Giants and Jets.

But forget about bragging rights. (It’s the preseason, after all; who brags about a preseason win?) This is pretty much about the last real rehearsal for the starters, guys trying to win jobs and other players just trying to either keep or win a roster spot.

Here’s what to watch for:

First half: Eli Manning and the majority of the starters will play a half. Tom Coughlin said some starters could go a little bit into the third quarter if need be. The coach is hoping to play his starters about 30 snaps in the game. This will likely be the last significant playing time Hakeem Nicks will see with Manning since Coughlin likely will play his starters very little if at all in the preseason finale.

Welcome back: Terrell Thomas will play in his first football game since tearing his ACL in a preseason game against the Bears on Aug. 22, 2011. It was during that game when Thomas accidentally got leg-whipped by Jason Pierre-Paul and tore his right ACL for the second time in his career. He vigorously rehabbed only to reinjure his ACL and require a third surgery last summer in camp. Thomas is expected to see some snaps as an extra defensive back behind Prince Amukamara and Aaron Ross. Corey Webster likely will not play due to injury.

Pugh Pugh platter: The Giants will unveil a new offensive line after losing David Baas (MCL) and David Diehl (thumb) to injuries for the next several weeks. First-round pick Justin Pugh will get his first start at right tackle in place of Diehl. Jim Cordle will start at center for Baas. If this line does well, the Giants will likely start this five against Dallas in the opener on Sept. 8.

Danny in the middle: Dan Connor is expected to start at middle linebacker again and could see a significant amount of snaps with the first team. He has been battling Mark Herzlich for the starting job, and a strong showing against the Jets could give Connor a big edge. Spencer Paysinger impressed this week in practice with two interceptions and remains steady at outside linebacker. Keith Rivers mans the other outside linebacker position, and Jacquian Williams should see a fair amount of snaps on passing downs as well.

Opportunity knocks: Victor Cruz once practically became a household name off a preseason game against the Jets a few years ago. So who will be able to take advantage of the latest opportunity to star? With Cruz out with a bruised heel, the Giants will take a look at some other receivers in the slot. Also, the battle at defensive tackle has been fierce in camp. After starters Cullen Jenkins and Linval Joseph, Shaun Rogers, Johnathan Hankins, Marvin Austin and Mike Patterson have been going to work. The battle continues on Saturday and the Giants may have to find a way to keep five defensive tackles or more.

W2W4: Giants vs. Colts

August, 17, 2013

The second preseason game is upon us.

Ahmad Bradshaw will be in the building but won't play for the Colts.

Here's what to watch for on Sunday:

Ground game: In the preseason opener, the Giants' tandem of David Wilson and Andre Brown gained 39 yards on nine carries. But Tom Coughlin wants to see the running game be more consistent and productive. While the offensive line has yet to play at full strength with Chris Snee making his way back from offseason hip surgery, the Giants need to show some improvement in the running game before the preseason is over. And Brown needs to hang on to the ball after fumbling a pitch toss right against Pittsburgh in the preseason opener.

Run defense: The Giants' defense will want to improve on stopping the run. The Steelers racked up 81 rushing yards on 17 carries against the Giants in the first half, including 36 yards on a 13-play drive in the first quarter. Perry Fewell has a lot of options to play with up front with defensive tackles like Cullen Jenkins, Linval Joseph, Shaun Rogers, Johnathan Hankins, Marvin Austin and Mike Patterson.

Welcome back, Hakeem: Hakeem Nicks will make his preseason debut Sunday after missing the opener in Pittsburgh. The team has been taking a cautious approach with the receiver, who battled knee and foot injuries last season. Eli Manning worked well with Victor Cruz, connecting on a 57-yard touchdown against the Steelers. It will be nice to see how he does with Nicks. Justin Tuck is also expected to play after sitting out last Saturday with a back issue. Coughlin plans to play his starters about 20 snaps and the second team about 25 snaps.

Who will sparkle: In the opener, Damontre Moore stole the spotlight with an impressive debut that included a blocked punt. Who will step up Sunday and make a statement for either more playing time or a spot on the roster? Moore was bothered by a shoulder contusion this week. So perhaps another defensive end like Adrian Tracy or Justin Trattou could make some noise. Or will it be one of the many defensive tackles fighting for a spot? Or how about the linebackers? Coughlin said the linebackers did a good job in the opener but nobody really stood out.

Mundy Mundy: Antrel Rolle won't play after spraining his ankle. That means former Steelers safety Ryan Mundy will start alongside Stevie Brown. The Giants have been showing more formations with two nickel linebackers and an extra defensive back in practice as opposed to three-safety looks. But if Fewell goes to three safeties in games, Mundy would likely be the third safety.

Steppin' to the AM: Fewell injection

August, 14, 2013

Perry Fewell clearly has spent time in the football lab this offseason.

It appears the Giants' defensive coordinator will be unleashing some different looks this year to improve a unit that finished 31st in total defense last year.

Fewell said "we'll be very multiple" when asked whether he will show some 3-4 looks this season. On Tuesday, reporters got a glimpse of some of the different looks the Giants are tinkering with.

I'm all for this. I like when Fewell gets creative. His three-safety look got his best players on the field when they had Deon Grant. So Fewell will try to do the same this season, and I feel he has a lot of pieces to work with up front, such as Cullen Jenkins, Shaun Rogers, Mathias Kiwanuka, Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Adrian Tracy, Damontre Moore, Mike Patterson, and Marvin Austin. And he has enough linebackers to use different combinations there, too. Also, if Terrell Thomas is healthy, Fewell will really have options at each level on defense.

In case you missed it: Antrel Rolle said his ankle injury is a regular sprain, not a high-ankle sprain. Giants Nation can breathe again. Rolle still may need a good chunk of camp to recover, though.

Jane McManus stopped by Giants camp and wrote about the competition at middle linebacker between Mark Herzlich and Dan Connor, and the race at backup QB between David Carr, Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib.

The 411: The Giants practice from 1:30-3:45 on Wednesday, and the running backs and tight ends are scheduled to sign autographs.

Practice report: Moving defensive parts

August, 13, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Tuesday that he'll get creative with his defense this season.

Tuesday's practice gave us a glimpse of what Fewell might have in store for the Giants' opponents:

• In 11's, the Giants opened with DE Mathias Kiwanuka and LB Keith Rivers standing up on the edges. DT Cullen Jenkins, DT Shaun Rogers and DT Linval Joseph were all inside with their hands in the dirt. Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger were at linebacker inside.

• Throughout practice we saw some defensive ends, like Kiwanuka, Justin Tuck, Adrian Tracy and Justin Trattou all drop back on some plays.

• Interestingly, in one 7-on-7 portion, Tuck worked as a linebacker with Paysinger and Jacquian Williams. Tuck dropped back into coverage. Trattou and Tracy also got 7-on-7 snaps with the linebackers.

• Tuck got some snaps at defensive tackle with Jenkins while Kiwanuka and Tracy were at the defensive end spots. In another formation, Tuck, Jenkins and Kiwanuka were up front, and Williams, Paysinger and Tracy were at linebacker. Aaron Ross and Prince Amukamara were on the outside at cornerback with Corey Webster sitting out due to injury. Terrell Thomas covered the slot.

• One passing defense package had Tracy, Tuck, Jenkins and Kiwanuka up front, with Paysinger and Williams at linebacker and Thomas in the slot.

• It wasn't just the starters moving all around. DT Marvin Austin, DT Frank Okam and DE Adewale Ojomo played up front while LB Kyle Bosworth and Trattou were standing up on the edges. Herzlich and LB Etienne Sabino were the inside linebackers. On another squad, DT Johnathan Hankins, DT Mike Patterson and DE Matt Broha were up on the line with LB Aaron Curry and Tracy standing up. Herzlich and Williams were the inside linebackers.

So Fewell is getting creative and seeing what his different pieces can do.

The 411: David Carr hit Ramses Barden in stride on a nice 25-yard pass play on the left sideline. ... Rueben Randle was temporarily shaken up after going for a bomb from Eli Manning with Ryan Mundy and Stevie Brown in coverage. Randle was fine and later caught a bullet pass from Manning over the middle. ... Manning hit Andre Brown on a nice little delayed dump-off pass to counter a blitz and Chris Snee did a good job of getting out as lead blocker. ... Amukamara picked off Manning on a nice play while blanketing Hakeem Nicks. ... Jayron Hosley had a strong practice, picking off Curtis Painter in 7's and breaking up a quick deep pass from Manning to Victor Cruz in single coverage in 11's. ... David Wilson showed some serious speed to the outside in what could've been a big gain in the non-tackling practice. ... Ryan Nassib threw a perfect bomb to Kevin Hardy down the left side for a touchdown on Charles James. ... Justin Pugh got some snaps at first-team right tackle while Brandon Mosley got some snaps at right guard in the team's final hurry-up drill. ... Cruz beat Thomas but couldn't haul in what would've been a touchdown catch and run.