Friday, August 30, 2013
Big Blue Morning: Andre Brown goes down
By Dan Graziano
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.