New York Giants: Tom Coughlin

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Right? You guys ask, like, all the time why New York Giants rookie wide receiver Corey Washington isn't getting more reps on offense. Even with Rueben Randle in the doghouse, Kevin Ogletree was in the game ahead of Washington on Sunday, and those who remember Washington's preseason heroics continue to wonder why.

Well, Giants coach Tom Coughlin talked about it Wednesday. And while you Washingtonheads out there may not like the answer, you can rest assured there is a reason Washington remains so far down on the depth chart. It just has nothing to do with his ability to actually play wide receiver.

"My standard operating procedure is that I'd like the fourth and fifth wide receivers to be outstanding contributors on special teams, and we're not there right now," Coughlin said. "That would help a lot."

Coughlin said Washington hasn't done a good enough job on the punt return and kickoff return teams to warrant a promotion to a larger role on offense, even though he spoke highly of his ability to perform when put into the game at wide receiver.

"No. He does a good job and can play multiple positions, and from the standpoint of knowing what to do, he's done that from Day 1," Coughlin said. "But he does have to become better at his job."

So there's your answer, folks. Washington's path to more playing time on offense is being blocked by his failure to excel on punt and kickoff returns.

Told you you wouldn't like the answer.
Jason Pierre-Paul AP Photo/Bill KostrounNew York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has turned up his production in recent weeks.
Six sacks in his last three games have raised Jason Pierre-Paul's season total to 9.5, which isn't an elite-pass-rusher number, but Pierre-Paul says it doesn't matter.

"Just numbers, man," the New York Giants defensive end said after his big game Sunday against Washington. "If you look at the film, really break down all the statistics, I'm having a great season."

The Giants, as you know, are not. But if Pierre-Paul truly is, he's setting himself up well for a free-agent contract push that could force the Giants into an interesting offseason decision.

Pierre-Paul turns 26 in two weeks and is eligible for free agency a couple of months after that. Given his age, the brilliance he flashed during the Giants' 2011-12 Super Bowl run and what's shaping up to be a strong finish to his walk year, he's likely to generate a high level of interest on the open market. Elite pass-rushers are a rare commodity, and if Pierre-Paul can sell himself at that -- at his age -- he has reason to dream of a deal in the $12 million or $13 million-a-year range.

The Giants will have enough cap space to do a deal like that if they want to keep Pierre-Paul. But they have many other needs as well, and the way the Giants generally act with their free agents is to set a price they think is fair and tell the guy he's welcome to go try to get more elsewhere if he thinks he can. It's unclear at this point whether the Giants would break the bank to keep their 2010 first-round draft pick, though they are happy with the way he has performed in 2014.

"JPP is playing very well," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Monday. "Technically, early on, he was doing some things that we could correct and help with, and we did, and he has really adapted his game again to the way and manner in which we would like him to rush."

The Giants' pass rush as a whole has taken off the last three weeks in games against Jacksonville, Tennessee and Washington. After recording a total of 19 sacks in their first 11 games of the season, the Giants have 22 sacks in their last three games, pushing them all the way up to No. 4 in the league in that category. Much of that has to do with the contributions they're getting from young players like linebacker Devon Kennard, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and defensive ends Kerry Wynn and Damontre Moore. But Pierre-Paul is the centerpiece player -- the all-around defensive end who can take on left tackles, play the run and find his way to the quarterback with his speed and instincts. That's the player they saw in 2011, and after two injury-plagued seasons that followed, the Giants believe they're seeing that player again this year.

They will need a foundation piece for the pass rush this offseason. If it's not Pierre-Paul, they'll have to find it somewhere else -- either in free agency or with a first-round draft pick that currently would be No. 8 overall. I can't tell them how to spend their money, and I understand being hesitant to commit five or six years and $12 million or $13 million a year to a guy who's struggled to stay healthy. But Pierre-Paul may end up being their best option.

He also would be the first of GM Jerry Reese's first-round draft picks to sign a second contract with the team. Aaron Ross (2007), Kenny Phillips (2008) and Hakeem Nicks (2009) all went elsewhere at the end of their rookie deals for reasons of injury or ineffectiveness. Prince Amukamara (2011) is no sure thing to break that trend. They hold a 2015 option on him and it remains to be seen what effect his season-ending injury has on their long-range assessment of his value. David Wilson (2012) had to retire in August due to neck injuries. And it's far too early to know what the future holds for Justin Pugh (2013) or brilliant rookie Odell Beckham Jr. (2014).

First-round picks are supposed to be long-term foundation pieces. The questions for the Giants are whether they believe, after five years, that Pierre-Paul is a foundation piece and how much they're willing to bet on it.
New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings re-injured his sprained right ankle on the first play of Sunday's victory against Washington and did not return.

"He did have a reoccurrence of the ankle and was not able to go back in the game," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Monday. "Whether or not we are all the way back to Square 1, I don't know yet. I don't have anything on that today yet."

Jennings sprained his ankle in the Week 13 loss in Jacksonville and played a minimal role in the following week's victory in Tennessee. He was slated for a slightly larger workload Sunday, as evidenced by the fact that he got the first carry of the game. But says he "tweaked" the ankle on that very play, and now his status for the final two games of the season is obviously in doubt.

Assuming the injury is where it was after the Jacksonville game, it's impossible to count on Jennings for Sunday's game in St. Louis, and it's possible they could just shut him down for the rest of the season and give the starting running back work to rookie Andre Williams. We likely won't know for sure until Wednesday, when the Giants return to the practice field. But it's obviously not looking good for Jennings to have the strong finish to the season for which he was hoping.

Jennings is in his first year with the Giants, having signed a free-agent contract in March. Early in the season, when the offense was having success, he looked like a good fit as the all-purpose starter at running back. He had 176 rushing yards in the Week 3 victory against Houston and averaged 4.35 yards per carry during the Giants' first five games. But he injured his knee in Week 5, missed the next four games and wasn't back to full strength until the Jacksonville game, in which he injured the ankle. So Jennings' first Giants season will turn out to have been about injury and time missed, and his health issues will make him one of their question marks going into 2015.
A day after a victory over Washington improved the New York Giants' record to a still-pretty-crummy 5-9, coach Tom Coughlin said he has not had any conversations with team management about his job status for next year.

"No," Coughlin said. "My concern is with getting ready to play the St. Louis Rams (on Sunday). I'm sure that will be dealt with at the right time."

Two wins in a row after a seven-game losing streak seem to have relaxed some of the public heat on Coughlin. And around the Giants' facility, the feeling is that he'll be back next year. Coughlin signed a one-year contract extension last offseason that takes him through 2015, and if the Giants do bring him back, their history indicates that they would extend him through 2016 so as not to make him a lame duck.

The Giants will finish under .500 for the second season in a row and miss the playoffs for the fifth year out of the last six. But they changed offensive coordinators and systems and overhauled their roster last offseason, so the feeling is that they're committed to a long-term rebuild and believe in Coughlin as the leader they need to execute it. That doesn't rule out staff changes, including a potential change at defensive coordinator. And those conversations between a head coach and his bosses can definitely get testy. So nothing is certain until the Giants have their postseason meetings two weeks from now. But true to his one-week-at-a-time mantra, Coughlin insists he's not thinking about it.

"We've got two games to go, and we've got to be the best we can be in these next two games," Coughlin said.

Earlier in his Monday conference call with reporters, Coughlin did talk about the future of the Giants and the benefit that playing well in December could carry into next season and beyond for the team's young players.

"You always want to be on a positive note," Coughlin said. "You would like everything to be with the arrow going up. We've talked a lot about improvement and ascending, and it is the time of year to do those things. The number of young people that are getting opportunities and having a chance to play, that all leads to thoughts about the future. These things are one game at a time, but again, the encouragement, the positivity, the winning idea, the opportunity for young people to contribute in a very strong way, those are all positive things."
Over the past six seasons, Tom Coughlin's record as coach of the New York Giants is 52-46. That counts the three playoff games and the Super Bowl he won during that stretch, and, no, it's not a very good record at all. Better than some? Yes. Enough to justify the kind of job security Coughlin has? Not by most teams' standards, no.

[+] EnlargeTom Coughlin
Kathy Willens/AP PhotoTom Coughlin is the public face of the Giants, a role ownership places a high priority on.
But Coughlin doesn't work for most teams. Coughlin works for the Giants, and in spite of the guarantee of a second straight losing season and a fifth season out of six without a playoff appearance, the strong likelihood is that Coughlin returns next year for a 12th season in his current job. I'm not able to put a percentage on it as the New York Post did, but the sense I get from talking to people in that building is that a lot of minds would have to be changed in the next two weeks for the Giants to decide to replace Coughlin.

Which means that wins and losses aren't the only criteria the Giants' owners are using to assess Coughlin. If they were, it would be extremely easy for the Giants to stand up at the end of this season, point to that .531 winning percentage over the last six years, proclaim that it's not up to their standards, thank Coughlin for his long and meritorious service to the organization, and move on to someone else. That is what most professional sports teams in their situation would do.

But the Giants, quite proudly and stubbornly, do not operate this way. Not with this two-time Super Bowl-winning coach. Not with a general manager, Jerry Reese, whose lousy draft record is the real reason for the playoff drought. Both of those men appear safe in their current jobs as the offseason looms, and the reason is that the Giants view themselves as more circumspect than most organizations.

The Giants' decision-making process on these matters contains a level of nuance that doesn't jive with today's knee-jerk sports-fan sensibility. Most people see a coach consistently missing the playoffs, or a GM consistently missing on important draft picks, and decide the answer is change for change's sake. Fans (and quite a few team owners) view coaches and GMs as disposable or replaceable. They seem to believe that the key to success is shuffling new people into those positions until one of them wins a Super Bowl.

Not so the Giants, who will arrive at their offseason two weeks from now determined to find solutions but not prejudiced toward any one particular path. Before deciding to part ways with a head coach who's ingrained in the franchise's history at a celebratory level, the Giants will ask whether such a move is likely to solve their problems. The bet here, as I've said, is that they'll decide it won't and will instead involve Coughlin in the search for solutions.

If the Giants believed Coughlin was among their biggest problems, they likely would make a change. But the Giants don't view Coughlin as a collection of wins and losses. They look instead at the tone he sets week to week in the locker room and in the meeting rooms, the energy he brings to the job, the way the players respond to him and the public face he puts on the organization as the one who has to face the public on a daily basis. These are all very important aspects of a head coach, and the Giants choose to prioritize them on a high level -- maybe even higher than they prioritize the win-loss record, which they view as subject to the whims of injuries and week-to-week tumult in an unpredictable league. There is evidence throughout Coughlin's career that a decision to stick with him through lean times can bring the sweetest of rewards, and the Giants choose to focus on that when deciding he's still the man for their biggest job.

You may disagree. You may want change for change's sake. You may believe Coughlin is simply not good enough a coach, or that his time has passed, or that the Giants aren't far enough into their current rebuild to justify the return of a coach who'll be 69 when next season starts. It is your perfect right to believe any or all of that. But to this point, the people deciding Coughlin's fate continue to believe he's the right man to coach their team. And they're looking well beyond his record to arrive at that decision.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rashad Jennings was the New York Giants' starting running back Sunday, but that's quite literally all he did. After carrying the ball for three yards on the first play from scrimmage, Jennings left the game and did not return. The Giants beat Washington, 24-13.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin, asked whether Jennings re-injured his sprained right ankle on that play, said, "Yeah, right away, he did."

Jennings wasn't around after the game to ask, which lends credence to the idea he did indeed re-injure the ankle and that it could be a problem that lingers into the season's final two weeks.

Jennings sprained his ankle two weeks ago in Jacksonville, and while he was active last week in Tennessee, he was the backup to rookie Andre Williams and played a minimal role as the Giants blew out the Titans. My understanding as of Friday was that Jennings' ankle was feeling better but not 100 percent even though he practiced all week, and that the Giants would try to use him in a bit of a lesser role for one more week before letting him loose again next week in St. Louis. They did not get that chance, and we'll wait to hear Monday whether there's a negative prognosis that could cost Jennings a chance to play in the Giants' final two games.

Williams had 131 yards on 24 carries last week against the Titans' No. 32-ranked run defense, but only 44 yards on 18 carries Sunday against Washington's top-10 run defense that loaded up to stop him. If Jennings can't play in the final two games, you can expect the Giants to give Williams a heavy workload, and the benefit of that would be a chance for him to develop and for them to evaluate him in advance of next season.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Odell Beckham Jr. is collecting superlatives as quickly as he's piling up touchdowns. His one-handed catch against the Dallas Cowboys was hailed in some circles as the best ever. He's a late entrant into the rookie of the year race. He's breaking records. He's having dinner with LeBron James. He's trying out for the new "Avengers" movie.

(All right, yeah, I made up that last one. But how surprised would you have been, really?)

The thing is, while we all sit here dazzled every week by what the New York Giants' rookie wide receiver is doing, it turns out he's just doing what he was told.

"I set expectations as high as possible," Beckham said after catching a ho-hum 12 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns Sunday in the Giants' 24-13 victory against Washington. "Back in Week 5, when I played my first game, Antrel [Rolle] came up to me and said, 'Don't forget, you still owe me 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.'"

It's entirely possible that Rolle was kidding -- a veteran team captain just trying to motivate a rookie who'd missed the first four games of his career with a hamstring injury. Asking a guy who'd never played in the league before to run up 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in three-quarters of a season is a bit much.

Unless that particular guy is a Marvel superhero.

"Nothing this guy does amazes me," Rolle said Sunday afternoon.

With two games left in the season, Beckham has a Giants rookie record 972 yards to go with nine touchdown catches. A little quick math indicates that he needs only to average 14 yards and half a touchdown per game the rest of the way to complete the homework assignment Rolle gave him in October. Since Beckham has had 90 or more yards in each of his past seven games -- and 100 or more in five of those -- it's difficult not to like his chances.

"The young man is having outstanding success," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He's a very good football player. He has the ability to go the distance any time he gets it, whether as a punt returner or as a receiver. He can run the football, he can throw the football, so we've tried to create a lot of situations for him. He has the talent to exploit the defense in a lot of different ways."

For Coughlin, that's straight-up gushing. See, everybody in the world saw THE CATCH against the Cowboys three weeks ago. But what those of us who are watching him every week see is consistent brilliance, snap-to-snap. Beckham does spectacular things in games and practices. He's a sizzling ball of energy who'll catch your eye with touchdown dances and bark right back at defenders who are trying to get in his head. But he's also a precise route runner with reliable hands and a good head for the game. And if you're a Giants coach, teammate or even a fan, you have to like that he's not too caught up in the brilliant stuff.

"They broke up one pass in the end zone that's going to give me trouble sleeping at night," Beckham said. "Earlier in the game, I was frustrated. There were plays, I think it was a third down where I didn't get both feet in bounds. The throw in the corner of the end zone that I feel I should have caught. There was another one I feel I should have caught. Whenever I get a chance to make a play, I feel it should be made."

And yes, he was down on himself for muffing the punt at the end of the game that put Washington's offense back on the field with seconds left on the clock instead of letting the Giants on the field to kneel on the ball and end the game.

"I was being lackadaisical. Too relaxed," Beckham said. "I went and apologized to our special-teams coach, because that is just not acceptable. There's nothing better than having the offense run on the field in victory formation."

He is surely forgiven, but it says a lot that Beckham is the one reminding us all how young he still is. Sunday was only his 10th game in the NFL, which means that he has room to grow and -- gulp -- get better. If the Giants' near future has another Super Bowl title in it, it's going to be with this young man as its brilliant centerpiece.

"He's the fire of this offense," Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. "We lost Victor Cruz early in the season, but I can only imagine. I can't wait to see those two guys on the field together."

Beckham gives the Giants license to dream of a big, bright future. And it's not because of one great catch or one great game. It's because of what he's doing every single week, at the highest possible level. The most eye-popping thing about Odell Beckham Jr. right now is that he's making the eye-popping stuff routine.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Observed and heard in the locker room following the New York Giants' 24-13 victory Sunday over Washington:
  • The talk was, of course, of rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and his three touchdown catches. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said, "He's the fire of the offense." Safety Antrel Rolle said, "Nothing this guy does amazes me." And fellow rookie Andre Williams said, "Odell is playing at the highest level. I catch the 'wow' moment at the end. I don't see him run his routes or anything. I just see him in the end zone, mostly."
  • For Beckham's part, he believes he can do more. He chided himself for a first-half play on which he believed he should have gotten both feet in bounds, and of course for his error on the final punt return of the game. "I apologize to my special teams coach," Beckham said of the muff. "There's no better feeling than seeing your offense run on the field to take a knee at the end of the game."
  • Tom Coughlin declined to explain Rueben Randle's latest benching but indicated it was more than just a first-quarter benching like the one in Jacksonville two weeks ago. This time, Randle declined to discuss it as well. My impression was that his entry into the game would have been delayed even longer had Kevin Ogletree not had to leave briefly to be checked for a head injury.
  • Coughlin said running back Rashad Jennings re-injured his ankle on the first play of the game. Jennings did not return. He had been hoping to get through this game and be at full strength for next week, but it's unclear whether this latest development changes those plans.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The last game against Washington was a low point for New York Giants safety Stevie Brown. Brown was benched after getting burned for a long touchdown the week before against Houston, and was replaced as a starting safety by Quintin Demps in the Week 4 game at Washington. He would play just four of the team's 57 defensive snaps that night, and only about 20 percent of them for the next eight weeks.

"He was upset," Giants coach Tom Coughlin recalled Friday. "He was internalizing all of that, and he didn't mind discussing it with anybody that would bring it up. But he did it the right way, obviously."

Brown opened everyone's eyes with his eight-interception season in 2012 but missed all of 2013 after tearing his ACL in preseason. His road back from the injury was a tough one, and he was eager to resume his role as a starting safety for the Giants this season. But he played poorly in the first three games and says now that it was because he got too caught up in trying to make big plays happen instead of letting them happen in their time.

"When you're someone who's looked at as a playmaker and the plays aren't happening, it's frustrating," Brown said Friday. "That's when you start to force the issue."

Brown was looking for interceptions rather than handling the assignments the defense was giving him. Perry Fewell's defense is assignment-driven, and efforts to freelance have a tendency to hurt rather than help. Brown's mistakes could have been avoided if he'd simply done what he was supposed to do instead of trying to replicate his magical 2012 run.

"When I had mistakes, it was at times when I was trying to do more than I was asked to do," Brown said. "I can't be doing that."

Brown is back in the starting lineup now. He's played every snap on defense the last two weeks and is once again a starter. He'd love to start racking up interceptions again, because what defensive back wouldn't? But he's wiser for his September errors, his knee feels great, and he believes he can finish strong and carry a good feeling into the offseason.

"I told him our team needed him to play the way he is capable of playing," Coughlin said. "He got back on the field, and he has made a nice contribution. I'm hoping he can do more. He does have outstanding hands, and he does have the ability to maneuver in center field, so you'd like to think he can maybe get in position to have an interception."

Meantime, just staying in position will do for now.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have had the Odell Beckham Jr. pass play in the playbook for a while now.

"I don't want to say the Atlanta game, which was his first game," offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said Thursday. "But we had it in there pretty early. He's a talented young man, and the more you can do in this league."

The play on which the Giants' rookie wide receiver threw a 60-yard deep pass toward Rueben Randle in the end zone (incomplete) against the Titans on Sunday doesn't require Beckham to throw the ball. It gives him the option to do so. And when Beckham took the pitch and ran out right, he saw a defender crashing toward him and decided it was worth a shot.

"He draws a lot of attention once he puts his hands on the ball," McAdoo said.

Beckham said after the game, seriously, that he should have looked for his second option on that play, as Preston Parker was wide open. But McAdoo said he doesn't expect his wide receivers to necessarily work their way through their progressions the way quarterbacks do when they drop back to pass, especially when they're being pursued by defenders.

Unfortunately for the Giants, the play didn't work this time, and therefore won't be a surprise to the next team against whom they try it. But McAdoo said that won't stop them from using it again.

"Anytime you use a 'deceptive,' you'd sure like to hit it," McAdoo said. "But with that being said, they're like screens. Any time you call one it helps you, because it slows down the pursuit."

It was pointed out to McAdoo that the play didn't seem like a Tom Coughlin-style play, as the Giants' head coach is generally thought to lean toward the conservative side. But McAdoo made it clear that Coughlin was well aware of that play's presence in the playbook and the chance that the Giants might use it in a game.

"You don't ever want to make a call like that without the head coach being involved," McAdoo said.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It was all a big joke to New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, the idea that he'd shown up on Wednesday's injury report. He talked about how the coaches came to him and told him they had to list him because external suspicions had been aroused. He even asked the reporters at his locker which body part the team had picked to list as injured, then nodded and said, "generic enough" when told it was his back.

Point was, Manning is playing Sunday, as he always does. This is a guy who had ankle surgery in the spring and practiced three weeks later. He'll make his 165th consecutive start at quarterback for the Giants, and yeah, his back or his leg or his arm might not feel as great as he'd like it to feel, but that doesn't matter. What matters to Manning is that he plays.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Julio CortezEli Manning certainly gets his share of criticism, but there's no denying his toughness.
"I want to be there for my teammates," Manning said when asked about his streak Wednesday. "I want to be there for the organization. We have a lot of guys who are banged-up and hurting, they're out there practicing, they're playing on Sundays, and I want to do the same for them. Always."

That's the Eli Manning mantra. And as another playoff-free Giants season unravels into irrelevance and discussions about Manning's performance and his future, it's important to step back and understand the value inherent in the fact that, for the past 10 years, the Giants haven't had to worry or wonder about who their quarterback was going to be on a given week.

"We've been able to, for a number of years, have a starter that's been in his position no matter what, game in and game out," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "No question, that's a solid, solid plus to be able to do that."

That's understating the case. Look around the league at the stunning number of teams who can't do that. The Washington team the Giants are playing this week has no idea who its quarterback should be this week, next week or next year. Coach Jay Gruden called his situation a "merry-go-round" Wednesday, and you can hear the weariness in a coach's voice when the topic is quarterback and he doesn't have an answer.

But Gruden isn't alone. A quick look at the standings reveals 11 teams that have immediate-future question marks at quarterback. Some of those teams, such as the Eagles, Texans and Cardinals, are playoff contenders in spite of the fact. Philadelphia could win this year's Super Bowl and still head into next year with uncertainty at quarterback, and if you don't think that eats at even the bright and ultra-confident Chip Kelly a bit, then you're kidding yourself.

"Eli is the kind of guy, he might not get the attention he deserves for his physicality because of his demeanor or his approach to the game, but he's one of the toughest quarterbacks I've been around," Giants running back Rashad Jennings said. "Nobody takes him for granted. As a player and as a human being, sometimes you don't recognize what you'll miss until it's not there. But we understand how important he is to this team, and he's a guy you want to play for."

The warts are all there, and they're undeniable. Manning will drive you absolutely bonkers with a poorly timed bad decision that results in an interception. Eli is not his brother, and he's the first to admit it. Does he belong in the conversation for best quarterback in the league along with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, etc.? Of course not -- not even with double the Super Bowl titles of three of those guys.

But my goodness, Giants fans, could you do worse. And the exceedingly rare occasion of Manning's presence on the injury report serves to remind just how valuable it is for a team to know it has a quarterback on whom it can rely. Every week. No matter what.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Quarterback Eli Manning will show up on the New York Giants' injury report Wednesday with a back injury. But while all of my two decades' worth of sportswriter training has taught me never to underplay an injury, I'm having a hard time taking this one seriously.

First of all, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said in his Wednesday morning news conference that Manning would "practice as he normally does" but that the team would list him as "limited" on the injury report basically because reporters all noticed that Manning took an extra-long time to get out of the trainer's room after Sunday's game. Especially after the NFL said last week that it was looking into whether the Dallas Cowboys hid a Tony Romo injury by not putting it on the injury report, it's possible the Giants are just making sure to cover their bases.

Secondly, during the open portion of Giants practice, Manning did not look in any way limited or challenged. And when we asked him about his first appearance on the injury report since 2011, he could not have been more dismissive of it.

"Feels great. No issues," Manning said. "Coach wanted me to take a few reps off, so that's fine. Nothing that will limit me in my preparation for the game. Just one of those things you have to go through these days in the NFL."

Manning's reaction indicated that this was truly a procedural move resulting from media attention on his unusual postgame routine Sunday. He said he didn't even know which body part the team had listed next to his name on the injury report.

"What did they go with?" he asked, and was told back. "Back? Generic enough, I guess. They told me they had to list something. But I don't consider myself injured."

Manning has started 164 consecutive regular-season games since being named the Giants' starting quarterback in 2004, and if he's practicing on a Wednesday like nothing's wrong, then I think you're safe to assume he plays Sunday against Washington.
Just because the whole thing's not on fire this particular week doesn't mean there aren't fires to put out. This is the life of a head coach, and the New York Giants' Tom Coughlin knows it all too well.

Coughlin didn't like the behavior of Giants safety Antrel Rolle and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie following Rodgers-Cromartie's interception return for a touchdown in Sunday's blowout victory in Tennessee. The play was called back due to a penalty on Damontre Moore, but Rolle also got flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his celebration after Rodgers-Cromartie high-stepped the ball into the end zone.

"I don't appreciate that," Coughlin said Monday, repeating what he'd said after the game about the incident. "What we talk about is 'team.' We don't talk about individuals. We talk about a team accomplishment, and I didn't like what it represented, and I will speak to the players that were involved in that."

It's not the first time this season that Rolle, a veteran and a team captain, has been involved in such an incident. After the game, he bristled a bit when asked about it.

"We're not talking about anything negative today," Rolle said after the Giants' first victory in two months. "It is what it is. We got caught up in the moment. A teammate made a play and we celebrate."

Time was, this could have been a big issue between Rolle and Coughlin. But the relationship between the two has deepened over time to the point where the discussion is likely to be civil, brief and professional.

Coughlin also was asked about a sideline incident between punter Steve Weatherford and special teams coach Tom Quinn after Weatherford blasted a 61-yard punt into the end zone for a touchback rather than out of bounds inside the 20. Coughlin said he hadn't seen the incident but would speak to both men about it to find out what happened and whether it's something that's a lingering problem going forward.

"I will be glad to talk to both of them about it, but it will be private, and it will remain that way," Coughlin said. "I'm interested in all things running as smoothly as possible. When competitive spirits are high, sometimes things happen and you don't want them to, and then you have to settle it down and continue as best you can professionally."

Weatherford said after the game that he and Quinn made up two minutes later and were upset about the same thing. Quinn and the other Giants coordinators only speak to the media on Thursdays.

First-year players were all over the New York Giants' 36-7 victory in Tennessee on Sunday. Wide receiver Odell Beckham and running back Andre Williams each went over 130 yards. Linebacker Devon Kennard had two sacks. Defensive end Kerry Wynn got into the mix for the second straight week. Weston Richburg started his 12th game of the season at left guard.

"It is encouraging, because long have we invested in their playing time," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said on his conference call with reporters Monday. "The fact that they have played some, and they continue to play and get experience, and now they've had a little taste of success. That's a good thing. In order to advance this team these young guys have to get great experience, and they are starting to get it."

Beckham has become the focal point of the offense and one of the brightest young stars in the entire league with six straight games of at least 90 receiving yards and regular appearances on highlight reels. Kennard has been forced into more significant playing time due to the injuries the Giants have suffered at linebacker, but the fifth-round pick has been impressing the coaches since minicamp. The four sacks he has in the last two games are the result of scheme adjustments as well as his continued development.

"He's maintaining his own at the line of scrimmage," Coughlin said. "He plays with power. He can shock you on contact, which we've all observed. He's a guy that is not prone to missed assignments or anything of that nature. He loves to play. He's physical. He's been all of the kinds of things you're looking for."

And then there's Williams, who had the 50-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of his big day as the starting running back in place of the banged-up Rashad Jennings. Williams has struggled to maintain patience and trust in his blockers, and it's not likely a coincidence that his long run came on a play where he bobbled a pitch and affected the timing of his burst forward. But Coughlin said Williams has shown some progress in terms of his patience.

"I think he is, with the exception of a couple of times when I would have maybe made a little bit of a different reaction to some of the things he saw in front of him," the 68-year-old former Syracuse halfback said of the Boston College rookie. "He was on the spot with his cuts, and he did demonstrate once again the power that we're counting on with him. The more he plays, the better he gets, and the more opportunity he has."

Even if Jennings come back healthy, Williams can earn himself a larger share of the carries over the final three weeks if he continues to show progress. If nothing else, he, Kennard, Beckham and the rest of the Giants' rookies are offering some level of hope for next season and beyond.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It was a celebration play, complete with celebrations that went a little bit too far over the top. New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin didn't love that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie high-stepped his way into the end zone with his interception of Zach Mettenberger in the fourth quarter of Sunday's blowout win, and he didn't love that veteran safety Antrel Rolle celebrated in a manner that earned him a penalty flag.

But the whole thing was undone by a different penalty -- one on second-year defensive end Damontre Moore for leveling Mettenberger after the interception. That penalty nullified the touchdown and prompted Moore to apologize to Rodgers-Cromartie after a sideline lecture from Coughlin.

Moore said the issue was a failure to understand the rules. He said he believed he could hit the quarterback after the interception to prevent him from making a tackle. But it's not that cut-and-dried, and there are rules that prohibit a player from leveling said quarterback if he's far from the play.

"That's bad on my part that I didn't know the rule all the way," Moore said. "If I had known the rule all the way, I would have made a smarter play. I should be better aware of all the rules of the game. That's my fault."

Coughlin bought Moore's explanation and said he honestly believed Moore didn't think he'd done anything wrong until he explained it to him.

"We all know I've got penalties before, and he's ripped me a new one," Moore said of Coughlin. "This time, he didn't rip me a new one."

Moore is in his second season in the NFL, but he's still only 22 years old. He has the physical talent to be a disruptive force for the Giants on defense, but Giants coaches have talked openly about his struggles to consistently understand and carry out his assignments. Even after the Giants put two defensive ends on injured reserve last week, they used defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins as a starter at the position Sunday rather than elevate Moore to that spot. They don't believe they can fully trust him yet on running downs, and they cite discipline as a key issue for him as he works to improve.

"I apologized to DRC and to the whole defense. I took points off the board," Moore said. "But I don't apologize for being an aggressive player and trying to make a play. I just needed to know the rule better."