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Pierce out indefinitely with neck injury

We've spent all week talking about how the Giants finally have everyone healthy, but the club delivered some bad news Friday evening. Middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, a team captain, has a bulging disk in his neck and will be out indefinitely. Pierce released a statement through the Giants:

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"I'm shocked with what I heard from the doctors this afternoon," Pierce said in the statement. "I had no idea that what happened a few weeks ago could keep me off the field. I didn't think it was that serious. I'm going to do everything the doctors tell me to do so I can get back out on the field as soon as possible."

The Giants play the Falcons on Sunday in the Meadowlands. Chase Blackburn will probably replace Pierce in the starting lineup. Blackburn's a steady player, but he's only started one game at middle linebacker since '05. Pierce is the defense's emotional leader and he had 55 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble this season. Some defensive players have talked about having some communication issues -- and Pierce's absence won't help.

He can often be seen checking the Giants into proper calls. Blackburn's an intelligent player, but he doesn't have nearly as much experience as Pierce. It looks like the best-case scenario for Pierce returning is about six weeks from now.