NFC East: David Diehl

Chris SneeJason O. Watson/Getty ImagesChris Snee retires after 10 seasons and two Super Bowl titles with the Giants.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Offensive linemen don't get stats. They don't gain yards or score touchdowns or sack quarterbacks. Check out Chris Snee's page on right here and, well, you don't see a whole lot of information. But Snee makes a strong case as the best offensive lineman in New York Giants history. And on the occasion of his retirement Monday after 10 seasons, four Pro Bowl appearances and two Super Bowl titles with the Giants, it was clear that his legacy would live large in the memories of those who watched him up close.

"Strength, power, mental toughness, work ethic, the way he approached the game ... he had everything you want," former Giants offensive lineman David Diehl said in a phone interview Monday. "Sincerely, one of the best guards I've ever seen."

You have to play guard at a pretty high level -- and for a pretty long time -- in the NFL to make the kind of imprint Snee made on the game. Monday afternoon, Giants owner John Mara said Snee was the first player he'd ever told, on the occasion of his retirement, that he would definitely be in the team's Ring of Honor.

"We just have to figure out a date," Mara said shortly before Snee came out to formally announce his retirement.

Mara recalled that 2004 draft, in which the Giants were making the big blockbuster deal to trade up for quarterback Eli Manning. He said there was a debate about whether to include that year's second-round pick (No. 34 overall) or the 2005 first-rounder in the deal, and they ultimately decided to hold onto the 2004 second-rounder, "because we felt like it was going to be a real good player, and was it ever."

Snee was that player, though at the time he was picked the bigger headline was about his relationship with Kate Coughlin, the daughter of Giants coach Tom Coughlin. Snee would end up marrying Kate and fathering three of Coughlin's grandsons -- creating a professional arrangement that could have been awkward but which both son-in-law and father-in-law discussed emotionally and lovingly Monday at its end.

"People say, 'You're not very objective about this.' Well, I'm not pleading my case for objectivity right now," Coughlin said. "I'm just telling you the quality of the man is greater than the quality and the ability of the football player, and that's as good as it gets. People asked about coaching your son-in-law, 'Is it hard?' I'll take 100 of them. If there's 53, I'll take 53 of him."

Manning smiled Monday as he recalled coming into the league at the same time as Snee. Two quiet guys who didn't say much, even to each other as they roomed together in camp and on the road that year, Manning and Snee ended up as part of the backbone of a team that won two Super Bowls. Manning said Snee took some grief early in his career for being the coach's son-in-law, but that he handled it the best way anyone could.

"He became a dominant player," Manning said. "And that helped him really take it in stride."

Dominant. The best player on an offensive line that became a Giants calling card from 2006-10. Snee, Diehl, Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie quite famously started 38 games in a row at one point. They helped knock off the undefeated New England Patriots and win Super Bowl XLII. Diehl says he still has the copy of the January 12, 2009 ESPN the Magazine cover that pictured the five of them in a circle, looking down at the camera, under the headline "Are These Guys the NFL's Real MVPs?"

"We wanted to be the leaders of our football team," Diehl said. "We had a mentality that we were going to push for each other, work for each other and turn things around for the New York Giants. Chris embodied everything about that mentality. He did it quietly, but he lived it."

Snee lists at 6-foot-3, 310 pounds, which makes him a large human being but not an especially large NFL guard. He fought the perception that he was undersized and did it by emphasizing strength and power in his game. Coughlin said Monday that Snee and former defensive tackle Linval Joseph regularly competed in the weight room for the title of strongest player on the team.

"People knocked him for his size, said he was short," Diehl said. "But he had incredible strength, an ability to get under people on double teams, use his legs to move people off a spot and dictate the action. Just a tough, hard-nosed, hard-working football player."

The incredibly physical way Snee played is likely the reason it's over for him at 32. Both hips and his right elbow are shot to the point where he doesn't feel he can play anymore, and after an offseason of trying to get himself in shape to do that, he figured out within the past couple of weeks that he could not.

"I have to admit that I can no longer play," Snee said. "It's a sad day, but once I leave here, I'll be at peace with it."

Snee is a guard, and as such he's a guy who doesn't get or seek a lot of attention. So Monday wasn't easy. He broke down at the start of his retirement news conference, and when it ended he gathered two of his sons in his arms as they cried. He said he'd have to "disappear" for a couple of weeks, but that he expected to return at some point this season to catch a practice and some games because his sons love it so much.

"This is home," Snee said. "My kids love the games. They're going to want to come. I'm going to want to go. It's going to be tough at first, but that's the way life goes."

Snee said "everybody wants the Strahan ending," referring to the fact that former Giant Michael Strahan's final game was the Super Bowl XLII victory over the Patriots, but he's OK with not getting that ending. He'll wish his final game had been something better than the seven-sack mess the Giants delivered in Week 3 of 2013 in Carolina, but that's not in his control. And if he listened to those who spoke around him Monday, he knows he doesn't have to worry about that being a part of his legacy.

"As an offensive lineman, you don't want the glory, you don't want the fame," Diehl said. "All you want is that 'W' for your team."

The New York Giants won 89 games with Snee on the field from 2004 to 2012. Two of those 89 were Super Bowls. Offensive linemen don't get stats, but they'll take those. And if you're wondering about Chris Snee's legacy, it doesn't need numbers. All you had to do Monday for proof of that was ask. Anybody.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The fast and furious action in the second and third rounds of the NFL draft Friday night didn't leave us much time to delve into the New York Giants' second-round pick, but Weston Richburg is worth some Saturday morning delving. So let's delve, shall we?

Richburg was the 43rd pick in this year's draft, and there is little doubt he'll be expected to compete for (and likely win) the starting center's job this spring and summer. His top competition right now is free-agent addition J.D. Walton, who hasn't played since September of 2012 due to an ankle injury.

[+] EnlargeWeston Richburg
AP Photo/G.M. Andrews"He can pull, he can block the zone schemes and he makes all the calls," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of second-round pick Weston Richburg.
"He can pull, he can block the zone schemes and he makes all the calls," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "The center position here for us is one of responsibility in terms of dictating to the rest of the offensive line exactly how the scheme is going to go. This guy will fit right in in terms of that."

Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese both said the center's responsibility for handling line and protection calls will increase under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross said Richburg scored an impressive 31 on the Wonderlic test and impressed the Giants in his combine interview with his intelligence. The idea that they're excited about Richburg as a potential starter says less about Walton, who himself was a not-too-shabby 80th overall pick in the 2010 draft and would have projected as the Giants' starting center if they hadn't addressed the position in the draft, than it does about Richburg himself.

The decision-makers raved about Richburg's athleticism, which apparently also will be an asset in the new McAdoo offense, and his durability. Coughlin couldn't wait to tell the story of how Richburg broke his right hand in 2012 and played the final game snapping with his left hand while his right was in a club cast.

"Yeah, that's something I take a lot of pride in," a proud Richburg said when asked about that story. "You don't see a lot of guys who can do that."

The Giants' execs pointed out that Richburg was a team captain who didn't miss any games in college. Richburg said it was important to him to be the first center taken in the draft (as he was). And in general, there's nothing not to like about the guy at this point. Even if the Giants really were comfortable with the idea of Walton as their starting center, they recognized that they needed to re-stock with top talent on the offensive line. Richburg helps them do that, and at a position where there may be an opportunity to start right away.

"Last year, we had a couple of injuries early on the offensive line and it was pretty devastating," Reese said, accurately. "We had to bring in some guys that struggled some at those positions, so we're trying to make sure we have enough depth at every position. This guy will help provide that for us."

The Giants have overhauled the interior of their offensive line, which was extinction-level bad in 2013. Left guard Kevin Boothe signed with the Raiders, right guard David Diehl retired and they released center David Baas. They signed free agent Geoff Schwartz to start at left guard, Walton for center and John Jerry for a reserve role, and they're hoping Chris Snee can make a healthy return from hip surgery at right guard. Richburg is the latest move in their effort to make sure they don't get caught short with underprepared guys at those spots if injuries happen again.
Jordan Raanan of reports that the New York Giants will begin free agency next month by pursuing some of the top young guards on the market -- guys in their mid-20s to late-20s who rank among the best available at the position this offseason. He lists Kansas City's Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz, the Chargers' Chad Rinehart, Denver's Zane Beadles and the Browns' Shawn Lauvao as possibilities. They're all between 25 and 28 years old, which is a smart age range at which to target free agents. In that age range, you can find players who have established themselves as capable, productive performers but who still have prime years left and are hungry to keep proving themselves.

So with David Diehl retiring, Chris Snee trying to work his way back from another hip surgery and Kevin Boothe also a free agent, this is a sensible way for the Giants to go, for sure. The Giants are invested in Will Beatty at left tackle for the long term, and they like 2013 first-round pick Justin Pugh at right tackle for now, so they will focus on the interior of the offensive line, which was their greatest weakness last season.

What confuses me a bit is the David Baas situation, as I expected the Giants would move on from Baas and find a new center this offseason. This report here makes it sound as though they expect to keep Baas, as long as he comes back from his neck injury OK. But I think that'd be a bit of a mistake. The Giants have always seemed to like Baas more than the empirical evidence indicates they should, starting with when they signed him, so it's possible they could be holding on because they see something we don't. And if they are to cut him, he makes more sense as a June 1 cut, where he'd save them $5 million in 2014 cap space as opposed to the $1.8 million he'd save them if they cut him now. So maybe that decision comes later, with the potential re-signing of Boothe (who can play center) as a hedge in case they don't find Baas' replacement in the draft.

Either way, the Giants need to keep adding quality pieces to an offensive line that wasn't great to begin with in 2013 and offered very little help from the bench when the starters went down. This isn't about plugging a couple of holes; it's about improving the overall quality of a unit that's been neglected. Targeting the best guards available in free agency would be a fine start.
New York Giants tackle Justin Pugh was named to the Pro Football Writers of America's 2013 All-Rookie team as one of two starting tackles (along with San Diego's D.J. Fluker). Pugh was indeed one of few bright spots on the Giants' offense this past year. They drafted him in the first round because they liked him as a player and a person and believed he could fill any number of roles on the offensive line long-term, and they knew their long-term line needs would be many and varied. But after David Diehl injured his thumb in the preseason, the Giants elevated Pugh to the starting right tackle position and he played all 16 games there.

I thought he improved as the season went along. He was consistently strong in the run game and in-and-out as a pass-protector -- overall, above-average for a rookie asked to start right away. And according to the site, which tracks such things, Pugh was whistled for only three penalties all year -- two illegal formations and one face mask. Not a single holding or false start call against a rookie tackle? Pretty good.

Pugh is a smart guy who will identify what he needs to improve and work on it, and there's already talk about if he might be the better left tackle long-term than Will Beatty, who signed for five years to play left tackle last offseason. Prior to the draft, scouts thought Pugh would be better served at guard at the professional level, but the Giants seem to view him as a tackle, and his performance in 2013 didn't move them off of that position. In a year that went very poorly for the Giants, the drafting, development and performance of Pugh was one thing that went very well.

In other news...
  • In case you missed it Tuesday night, the Giants did in fact hire former Packers QB coach Ben McAdoo as their new offensive coordinator. Interesting hire, since it signals at least a willingness to incorporate some new ideas into the offense as opposed to keeping things largely the way they've been since Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning came on board in 2004.
  • I wrote this lengthy analysis of what it might take for the Giants to keep free-agent defensive tackle Linval Joseph, assuming they want to, which they should.
  • We'll have the No. 3 moment in our "Five moments that shaped the season series" later this morning. And this afternoon, we'll take a look at Mel Kiper Jr.'s first mock draft of 2014. Remember, the Giants currently hold pick No. 12.
  • Carolina GM Dave Gettleman told reporters down there that the conditional draft pick the Giants traded for linebacker Jon Beason early in the season turned out to be a seventh-round pick. More than worth it, I'd say. The Giants are likely to add a compensatory pick or two in the middle rounds when those are announced in March, as a result of their free-agent losses last offseason.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' victory against the Washington Redskins on Sunday was meaningless to many -- but definitely not to David Diehl.

This might have been Diehl's last game as a Giant, and he wanted to go out a winner.

"To come away from this game with a win, walk out victorious, be out here with my teammates, that’s what it’s all about," Diehl said.

[+] EnlargeKevin Boothe
AP Photo/Paul JasienskiThe Giants are expected to revamp their veteran offensive line next season.
The 33-year-old free agent said he will ponder his future over the next couple of weeks. "I’ll make the decision if this is my last game or not," Diehl said. "But I can walk away from this game, if that’s my decision, with my head held high."

And he won't play for any other team. "I had that opportunity last year and I turned it down. I love being a New York Giant, I bleed blue," Diehl said. "I can’t see myself wearing another uniform. I’m a Giant through and through."

The Giants might make Diehl's decision for him, because the offensive line figures to get a major overhaul after a terrible 2013. The team entered Week 17 ranked second-to-last in the NFL in rushing (80.7 yards per game), and had given up 39 sacks, nearly twice as many as last season (20).

They didn't distinguish themselves in the season finale, either. The Giants rushed for 122 yards, but needed 35 carries to do so (3.5 yards per carry). And Eli Manning was knocked out of the game shortly after taking a hard hit from Redskins defensive end Chris Baker.

"I think many people want us to say that we played terribly, and we're the reason why we're 7-9, but obviously a lot goes into things," said fellow offensive lineman Kevin Boothe. [But] did we play to the level we expected to? Of course not."

"It will be an objective, for sure," said head coach Tom Coughlin, when asked about improving the offensive line.

To be fair, injuries played a major role in the offensive line's lack of success. Right guard Chris Snee and center David Baas played in just three games apiece before being placed on injured reserve. Backup center Jim Cordle suffered a season-ending injury as well.

Left tackle Will Beatty underperformed all season long, and then fractured his leg on a gruesome play against the Redskins. James Brewer also left Sunday's game with an injury, meaning the Giants were literally down to their last offensive linemen.

"It’s definitely been the craziest situation here while I’ve been here," Diehl said. "But it’s part of football. It just goes to show each and every year, you never know how things are gonna pan out."

Just how serious Beatty's injury is has yet to be determined. Snee could retire after having surgery on both hips the past two years. And Baas, who's been a disappointment since signing with Giants in 2011, could be a salary-cap casualty.

The only given on the offensive line going into next season is Justin Pugh, who started all 16 games in his rookie year.

Diehl's versatility is valuable -- he started at both right tackle and right guard this season, and has played every position but center during his 11 years with the Giants. And he can play through pain -- he revealed after the game that he needs thumb surgery, for the second time this year. But Diehl clearly is not the player he once was -- 164 NFL games will take a toll on you.

Diehl knew the exact number of games he had played in when speaking with reporters after the game -- perhaps a hint that he sees the finish line.

"I’ve accomplished everything I could possibly dream of as a football player," Diehl said. "If in 2003 any of you guys would have wrote that Dave Diehl, a fifth-round draft pick out of Illinois, would start 160 games, play in 164 and tie Phil Simms for No. 12 on the all-time playing list for the New York Giants, win two Super Bowls, be an All-Pro, play in the Pro Bowl and win two Super Bowl rings, and win every single Giant award possible -- I think if you guys would have wrote that in ’03, people would have said you’re crazy."

"I’ve got a lot to be proud of," Diehl added. And he's right.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If you're the New York Giants, you find good news on both sides of the inactives list for Sunday's season finale against the Washington Redskins. Not only are wide receiver Rueben Randle and guard David Diehl, who missed time last week with injuries, both active for the game, but Redskins pass-rusher Brian Orakpo, who sacked Eli Manning twice in the Dec. 1 game in Washington, is inactive with a groin injury.

Diehl missed last week's game with a knee injury but practiced all week and is ready to go for what could be the final game of his 11-year Giants career. It's possible Diehl could be back next year as a backup on a drastically reduced salary, but re-signing him isn't likely to be a high priority for the Giants this offseason. He'll start at right guard Sunday with James Brewer at left guard.

Randle missed some practice time this week with a knee injury of his own and had been listed as questionable for the game. But he's good to go. With Victor Cruz out with a knee injury, Randle will start opposite Hakeem Nicks, and Jerrel Jernigan will work the slot.

Orakpo is replaced in the Redskins' starting lineup by backup Rob Jackson, who's a good, fast pass-rusher but not the same kind of all-around player Orakpo is. Orakpo gave Giants left tackle Will Beatty all kinds of problems in the first matchup, and Beatty said a few days later that he was looking forward to this game to try and redeem himself. He'll have to wait until next year.

The full inactives lists:

Redskins: QB Robert Griffin III, WR Josh Morgan, CB Chase Minnifield, C J.D. Walton, G Josh LeRibeus, LB Adrian Robinson, LB Brian Orakpo

Giants: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, WR Victor Cruz, TE Adrien Robinson, G Brandon Mosley, QB Ryan Nassib, OL Eric Herman, LB Allen Bradford

W2W4: Giants vs. Redskins

December, 28, 2013
One more for the road, as the New York Giants will finally wrap their long-lost season with a home game against the Washington Redskins at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. It will be the last game in that building until the Super Bowl, which will come complete with weeks' worth of minute and detailed analysis. This game, which is justifiably of interest to far fewer people, comes with this analysis. A couple of things to watch in case you have absolutely nothing else to do and you're tuning in or going to the game Sunday:

Encore for Tuck? Defensive end Justin Tuck had four sacks when the Giants beat the Redskins in Week 13, but he'll have a different target Sunday. The Redskins benched franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III with three games to go in the season and replaced him with Kirk Cousins, who will be under center (or in the shotgun) for the Redskins in this one. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said last week that the team plans to pay extra attention to Tuck as a result of the success he had earlier in the month, and Tuck said he expected as much. But he's likely got to be more concerned with running back Alfred Morris than with getting to Cousins, as the Redskins will try to get the ground game going before doing anything else. Tuck has been strong against the run all year and is well aware of Morris' gifts, but he'd much prefer to spend his night teeing off on Cousins if given the choice. Tuck is eligible for free agency at season's end, and this could be his final game in a Giants uniform.

Other potential farewells: Tuck isn't the only pending free agent the Giants have. Mainstays such as guard David Diehl, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and defensive tackle Linval Joseph all hit the market this offseason and could be wrapping their Giants careers. Players like Mathias Kiwanuka and Antrel Rolle, who have heavy cap numbers next year, also could be playing their final games as Giants. Obviously, some of those guys are more likely to stay than others, but their situations remind you that there's always more roster turnover than you expect in an offseason. With the Giants, every year means goodbye to players who have helped win Super Bowls. This year will be no exception.

Is this Eli's week? We've asked it pretty much every week, and this is the only one left. Giants quarterback Eli Manning is suffering through the worst year of his career, leading the league with 26 interceptions and is playing without top wide receiver Victor Cruz, who's out with a knee injury. All of that said, the Redskins allow 249 pass yards per game and are very vulnerable in the secondary. He'll need left tackle Will Beatty to do a better job than he did in Week 13 of keeping the Redskins' pass rush out of his face. And he might need Nicks to haul in his first touchdown catch of the season in the final game. But this game does offer Manning a chance to finish off the season on a high statistical note. Whether he can take advantage of the opportunity is another matter.

Orakpo sits out practice

December, 26, 2013
ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo did not practice Thursday and his strained groin remains sore, putting his status for Sunday's regular-season finale in jeopardy.

Orakpo will test his groin again Friday. If he can't practice, it's hard to imagine the Redskins putting him on the field given their record (3-12) or the fact that he's a free agent after the season. Orakpo said Tuesday that he wants to play.

"If we feel he can't go, he won't go," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "We're not going to jeopardize his leg to play. It's a little sore right now, but there's still a chance."

Orakpo is the only Redskin who did not practice; everyone else was full participation.

For the Giants, corner Jayron Hosley (illness), corner Trumaine McBride (groin), guard Brandon Mosley (hand), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder), tight end Adrien Robinson (knee) and receiver Reuben Randle (knee) did not practice. Guard David Diehl (knee), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (shin/quad) and corner Terrell Thomas (knee) were limited.

Giants practice report: No Rueben Randle

December, 26, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The good news from New York Giants practice on Thursday was the return of running backs Andre Brown and Peyton Hillis from concussions and guard David Diehl from the knee injury that kept him out of Sunday's victory in Detroit. The bad news was the surprise absence of Rueben Randle, who missed practice with an as-yet-undisclosed injury and sounds unlikely to play Sunday.

With Randle and Victor Cruz out, the wide receivers at Eli Manning's disposal in Sunday's season finale against the Redskins would be Hakeem Nicks, Jerrel Jernigan, Louis Murphy and Julian Talley.

What was that about expanding the season to 18 games again?

As for the running backs, the fact that Brown and Hillis are practicing doesn't ensure that they'll be available for the game. The league's concussion protocol requires tests to be passed all week, and it's always possible that a player could feel worse Friday or Saturday or Sunday than he felt Thursday. But it's fair to take it as a good sign that Brown, Hillis or both will be back on the field Sunday.

We'll keep you posted when we hear anything more on Randle, just in case your fantasy league is still playing this week and you're as banged up at wide receiver as the Giants are.
Four months ago, he ranked among the biggest question marks on the New York Giants' offense. But for a variety of reasons, some good and some bad, rookie right tackle Justin Pugh has turned out to be one of that offense's few known quantities.

The Giants' first-round pick from the 2013 draft, Pugh has started every game this season at right tackle. As befits a first-round rookie asked to start immediately, he's had some good days and some bad days, and he and the team enjoy the fact he's made steady progress.

[+] EnlargeJustin Pugh
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliThe offseason should bring about plenty of configuring for Giants coaches on where exactly Justin Pugh will play on the line in 2014.
"I think my knowledge of the playbook has gotten better each and every week, so I'm better at that," Pugh said Monday when asked how he's improved from Week 1 to Week 17. "I have to keep working on my hands and doing the right things with my hands and feet. That's just something you keep getting better at so you have that confidence to go out and and do the things you need to do. I still have a lot to learn this offseason. It's going to be a big offseason for me."

It's going to be a big offseason for the Giants' offensive line in general. Pugh and left tackle Will Beatty, who's been very disappointing in the first year of his five-year free-agent contract, are the only two current starters who are sure things to return in 2014. The line must and likely will be a prime focus for the Giants in free agency and the draft, and Pugh's place in the plans for 2014 and beyond is only one very interesting aspect of the whole situation.

The Giants are happy with Pugh at right tackle and could very well decide to leave him there. But the reason they drafted him in the first round this year wasn't necessarily to make him a starting right tackle right away and forever. It was because they didn't know what their line needs were going to be next year and into the future, and they believed Pugh to be the kind of smart, versatile, all-around talent who could play several positions. Many evaluators said prior to the draft that Pugh was better suited at guard at the NFL level due to relatively short arms. The Giants don't necessarily agree, but if they were to, say, draft a big-time tackle in the first round (where they'll pick somewhere between ninth and 15th), they could move Pugh inside. If he's effective at tackle, he could be downright dominant at guard, and adding a first-round talent at tackle would strengthen the talent level of the line overall.

And inside is where they need help. Injured starting center David Baas is a likely cap casualty. Longtime right guard Chris Snee is as well, and Snee has had enough hip surgeries the past two years to make one wonder if he might decide to retire. Kevin Boothe, who has played left guard and center this year, is a free agent. James Brewer doesn't look starter-ready, Jim Cordle didn't look like a long-term answer at center prior to his injury, and Brandon Mosley played one series before breaking his hand, so it's hard to know what they have there.

My guess is that they cut Baas loose and get a center on the free-agent market. I think they re-sign Boothe, since they like him and he's happy here, as a possible starter or at least a versatile backup at several positions. But on the right side, it's a mystery. I know what I think they should do, which is the thing I just said about drafting a tackle and moving Pugh inside. But I don't think they will do that, since it would be more in-character for them to use such a high pick on a marquee position like wide receiver or pass-rusher. So my early guess is that they look for economical solutions at guard and center on the free-agent market and leave Pugh at right tackle while hoping Beatty gets better.

The one issue that stands out as interesting on its own is that of Snee, who is the son-in-law of head coach Tom Coughlin and, as such, has ties to the organization that others don't. That dynamic, combined with the extent of Snee's service to the team, could affect the way the team makes decisions about that particular player. And the solution on Snee, whatever it turns out to be, will have a ripple effect across the line.

Giants injury report: Brown concussed

December, 22, 2013
DETROIT -- New York Giants running back Andre Brown left Sunday's 23-20 victory against the Detroit Lions after suffering a concussion in overtime. It was the play on which Brown fumbled away the ball. Brown seemed fine getting dressed and leaving the locker room with his teammates, and shortly thereafter he was on Twitter saying he was all right and going through the occasional corny-joke routine he does on there. ("What does a policeman say to his belly button? You're under a vest!) But obviously, Brown will have to pass the league-mandated concussion protocol before he can be cleared to practice or play in next Sunday's season finale against the Redskins.

If he can't, it's possible that rookie Michael Cox would be the only healthy tailback on the Giants' roster. David Wilson and Brandon Jacobs are on injured reserve, and Peyton Hillis missed this game with a concussion. Hard to imagine the Giants going out and signing a running back for the final game of a long-lost season, but it's possible they'd have to. They also have a running back, Kendall Gaskins, on their practice squad.

In other injury news Sunday:
  • Tight end Adrien Robinson, active for the first time all season, sprained his knee on the opening kickoff and did not return to the game. Can't make this stuff up. Robinson was on crutches after the game and said he'll have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury. Lost season for him.
  • David Diehl, who's been starting at right guard since September due to Chris Snee's season-ending injury, was inactive for the game due to a knee injury. Brandon Mosley, who replaced him, broke his hand on the opening drive and did not return to the game. Dallas Reynolds replaced him and earned praise from coach Tom Coughlin for his effort. The Lions' defensive line had a field day against the Giants' banged-up offensive line in the second half, but the line held up well enough in the first half to build a 13-3 lead, which obviously mattered.
  • Defensive end Justin Tuck had an ice pack on his right knee after the game. He also appeared to injure his neck in the third quarter, but he didn't miss any time as a result of that injury.
DETROIT -- New York Giants safety Will Hill is active and will play in today's game against the Lions. Hill was reportedly arrested Friday night on a warrant related to child support, but the Giants consider it a personal matter and not a behavioral misstep worthy of discipline. So Hill will start at safety as usual.

Headlining the inactives list, however, is veteran guard David Diehl, who will miss the game with a knee injury. That leaves the woefully inexperienced James Brewer and Brandon Mosley as the Giants' starting guards against a Lions defensive line whose interior pass-rushers are among the most fearsome in the league. It will take a supreme effort to keep Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley off of Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who has already absorbed a career-high 36 sacks this season.

Other inactives include wide receiver Victor Cruz (knee), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder), safety Cooper Taylor (hamstring) and running back Peyton Hillis (concussion), all of whom were ruled out Friday. Linebacker Allen Bradford and third quarterback Ryan Nassib are the other inactives.

The Giants announced Rueben Randle as the starter at wide receiver in place of Cruz, and you should look for Randle and Hakeem Nicks when they're in two-receiver sets. But Jerrel Jernigan is the man who'll replace Cruz as the slot receiver when they use one.

Active for the first time this season is tight end Adrien Robinson, who if he gets on the field could be auditioning for a spot on next year's team. The Giants have had high hopes for Robinson since drafting him in the fourth round of the 2012 draft.

Superstar Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who has been dealing with a knee injury, is active for the game. There had been some question about that following an Adam Schefter report Sunday morning that Johnson would be a game-time decision.

W2W4: Giants at Lions

December, 21, 2013
Because the schedule says so, the 5-9 New York Giants travel this weekend to Detroit to play the 7-7 Lions in a 4:05 pm ET game Sunday. Here are a couple of things to watch for in the game:

Restricting Reggie. There's been so much talk this week about how the Giants plan to cover wide receiver Calvin Johnson and very little about their plan of attack versus dynamic Detroit running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. The Giants have been fairly stout against the run this year. They've only allowed two running backs to reach 100 rush yards in a game against them -- Carolina's DeAngelo Williams in Week 3 and San Diego's Ryan Mathews in Week 14. But both Bush and Bell are factors in the passing game, too, and the Giants have been susceptible to that all year. Last week, for instance, Seattle's Marshawn Lynch rushed for just 47 yards but caught six passes for 73 more. Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte are among the other top running backs who succeeded as receivers against the Giants in spite of struggling against them as runners. So the Giants must be on the lookout for Bush and Bell when they escape the backfield on Matthew Stafford dropbacks.

Containing Calvin: That said, the big-play threat remains the 6-foot-5 Johnson, who is coming off two straight disappointing games and is liable to post huge numbers at any time. The Giants say they're not planning to put 6-foot cornerback Prince Amukamara on Johnson exclusively, instead splitting the field with their corners as they prefer to do. That means 5-foot-8 Trumaine McBride will see Johnson some of the time, and that's a matchup on which Stafford is likely to pick liberally.

Stopping Suh: Defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley headline a fearsome Detroit defensive line that has to be licking its chops knowing that Giants quarterback Eli Manning already has absorbed 36 sacks this season. The Giants could be without guard David Diehl, who is listed as doubtful for the game due to a knee injury. That would mean backups James Brewer and Brandon Mosley at the guard spots against one of the best interior pass rushes in the league. Gadzooks.

Jernigan's chance: With slot receiver Victor Cruz out for the rest of the season following knee surgery and fellow wideout Hakeem Nicks appearing to play at half-speed all season, Jerrel Jernigan could play a significant role in the passing game Sunday. He replaces Cruz in the slot, and he showed the coaching staff something Sunday when he had to go in after Cruz got hurt. Head coach Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride both lauded Jernigan's toughness against Seattle's physical secondary, and he's likely to find the matchups more favorable this week in Detroit. If Manning has to unload the ball quickly, as it appears he will due to the protection issues, Jernigan could see a lot of targets and has a chance to make his case to be on next year's team with a big performance.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Once the postseason is no longer a feasible goal, some teams will use the final games of their season to play some of the younger, more inexperienced players on their roster to see how they're developing and whether they can be a part of the plans for the coming offseason. The New York Giants, who were eliminated from playoff contention Sunday, have no such plans.

"We’re going to try to play the best we can and win with the roster that we have," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday, clearly annoyed by the premise of the question. "If the opportunity is there, then so be it. But that’s not going to be the No. 1 thought on our minds."

[+] EnlargeTom Coughlin
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesDon't look for Giants coach Tom Coughlin to empty his bench during the season's last three weeks.
Coughlin and the Giants believe in developing players a certain way, and he mentioned that he's able to evaluate his bench players by watching them perform on special teams. He feels it's important to play the final three games of this season honestly and try to win all three of them, and he'll only alter his lineup if he believes the alteration is to that end.

"Those people who are playing have earned their right to play," Coughlin said.

He also asked for specific examples of players who might conceivably see more playing time for future-evaluation purposes, and several of the reporters in attendance obliged. Coughlin was asked about:

Tight end Adrien Robinson: "He was hurt for a long time. He’s practiced for a few weeks now. He did a nice job of being a scout squad tight end for Antonio Gates a week ago. He’s improved from that I can tell on special teams and if he can continue to improve, perhaps that opportunity will come."

Guard Brandon Mosley: "Well, he’s been the XO tight end, did a nice job with that the other day. Hopefully you noticed that. And again, if the opportunity presents itself, so be it. But who would you like me to take out? James Brewer is also getting playing time, if you haven’t noticed. He hasn’t had a whole lot of time and he’s getting playing time and he is responding, so I’d like to see Brewer continue to get better, too."

(Editor's note: The obvious answer from fans to "who would you like me to take out?" is right guard David Diehl. But it's obvious by this point that the Giants won't consider that.)

Quarterback Ryan Nassib's chances of being issued a uniform and joining the active roster one of these weeks, if not actually playing: "Not at this point in time. He’s done very well as a scout team player. He’s taking all these running quarterback roles and done a great job with it, played some safety, done a lot of good things. He’s a very good, very sharp kid. Works his tail off, knows what his spot is, he’s in that room with those guys and he’s like a sponge, that’s what the intent was."

So those are the answers in case you've been wondering. Nassib said he was going to play Russell Wilson on the scout team this week as the team gets ready for Seattle, and that's been his role for much of the year. It's unlikely to change, as the Giants obviously aren't going to sit down starter Eli Manning and Curtis Painter has been working as the backup all year and would therefore deserve first crack at the job even if they did.

Basically, the Giants believe they have a means of developing their back-of-the-roster players and evaluating that development. It's tough to figure out which guys they view as actual prospects and which they view as roster-filler. But it's tough when the players in question don't play. Brewer, for instance, was supposed to have been a worthy starter by this point but doesn't appear to be one. The Giants have a lot of offensive line questions to answer in the offseason, and it would be interesting to see what they have in someone like Mosley. But they're not going to weaken their chances to win one of these games just to see someone like Mosley in a game. That's not the way they do it.

Big Blue Morning: T2's great comeback

October, 31, 2013
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants.

The news of the day: Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his 11-tackle performance against the Eagles on Sunday. Thomas' comeback from a third ACL surgery on the same knee was remarkable already when he made the team and took the field in Week 1 against the Cowboys. But the fact that his recognition as the best defensive performer in the conference in Week 8 is an occasion to marvel once again at what it took for him to get back to the NFL. ... Giants tight ends coach Mike Pope says everybody needs to go easy on Brandon Myers, who has not continued the Giants' streak of success with changing faces at the tight end position. ... And David Diehl told Pro Football Talk that he doesn't see Hakeem Nicks returning to the Giants in 2014, which would be really interesting if Diehl were either the Giants' GM or Nicks' agent. He is neither, and quite frankly I like Nicks' chances of playing for the Giants in 2014 better than I like Diehl's.

Around the division: The Cowboys sure are rallying around Dez Bryant as he absorbs criticism for his sideline behavior Sunday. Even Jason Witten, who had to be separated from Bryant by DeMarcus Ware late in the game, says he thinks the Cowboys need more guys like Dez. My take on Bryant is that nothing's stickier than a reputation, and even though all of his issues in the past have been off-field and he's been a solid citizen in the locker room, he's perceived a certain way. So he can't slip up, or this is what happens. Unfair? Sure. But it's his reality, and that's his lesson of the week.

Around the league: Raise your hand if you're surprised Roger Goodell didn't go to the meeting with the Oneida Indian Nation about the Redskins' team name. Yeah, I didn't think so. Goodell wants this to go away. I'm not sure he's getting his wish.