New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck has a shoulder injury, hasn't practiced this week and says he doesn't know if he'll be able to play Sunday in Baltimore in a game the Giants almost* have to win. Giants coach Tom Coughlin sounds more optimistic than Tuck does about Tuck's status in this Star-Ledger report. And though Tuck's the one whose shoulder hurts, the rest of his comments from Thursday indicate that he may just be in a grouchy mood:
"Maybe we're giving o-lines and offensive coordinators and offenses too much credit," said Tuck, who has just three sacks this season. "Honestly, I think we just need to stop worrying about what people are writing, what people say about our pass rush and just get back to beating people up front. I think if you start listening to what people say about 'You're not getting sacks, you're not doing this,' you start trying to look for answers instead of focusing on the answer, which is you beating the guy in front of you."
The Giants are tied for 16th in the NFL with 32 sacks. They only had one sack Sunday against the Falcons when defensive tackle Chris Canty got to Matt Ryan. According to football statistics website Pro Football Focus, Ryan was only pressured on 14 percent of his dropbacks.
Those numbers aren't going to strike any fear into any opponent and that includes the Ravens. Head coach John Harbaugh said he wouldn't use that word, though he did go on to sing the unit's praises on a conference call Wednesday.
"He shouldn't," Tuck said. "Because there's been years that it should be, should've been fear, but this year we haven't had that. So what have you done lately? That's how the league looks at you and lately we haven't did much of anything as far as getting after the quarterback."
The world waits to see whether this year's Giants team can kick into gear with two weeks left in the regular season the way last year's Giants did, or whether that gear isn't going to be available to them this time around. You can't count the Giants out until they're out, but there are some disturbing signs. For instance, one of the keys to last year's turnaround was a pep talk Coughlin gave to Tuck at around this time about the dangers of feeling sorry for yourself and the importance of fighting through nicks and bruises and other injuries. Whether it's because this shoulder problem is more serious than whatever he was dealing with last year, or whether it's for some other reason, Tuck appears to be giving off that down-in-the-dumps vibe again, and there's no Giants good that can come of that.
*The Giants can be eliminated from playoff contention this week with a loss in Baltimore and wins by the Redskins, Cowboys and Seahawks. If they lose this week and those other three teams don't all win, they'll retain hope for a wild-card berth but not the division title.