NFL Nation: Rashad Jennings

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The moments following the end of their 6-10 season were not, the New York Giants decided, the time to talk in depth about the future. Asked whether he thought the team was headed in the right direction and whether he wanted to be back, coach Tom Coughlin said he wouldn't address the latter but, "I think it's headed in the right direction, yeah."

But is it? And more importantly, is that the right point of view for the Giants to take as they begin their offseason evaluations?

Coughlin's micro focus is one of his coaching strengths. His ability to lock in on one week's preparation at a time and block out external noise ensures that his teams are generally well-prepared for their games. And if your focus is on each individual game, you could certainly talk yourself into thinking that the Giants are moving in the right direction. The offense looked much better in December against weak opponents. Eli Manning had a fine statistical season. Odell Beckham Jr. would get anyone excited about the future.

"You look at the games we lost, and we really feel like we beat ourselves," running back Rashad Jennings said. "And when that's the case, you know you can fix it."

[+] EnlargeGiants Selfie
Alex Goodlett/Getty ImagesIf the Giants take a hard look at themselves this offseason, they'll see they still have a long way to go to get back to a championship level.
The problem is, that game-to-game micro focus can distract from the big picture. And for the Giants right now, the big picture is one of disappointment and mediocrity. Their regular-season records the past six years are 8-8, 10-6, 9-7, 9-7, 7-9 and 6-10. Even if you add in the 4-0 postseason record that followed the 2011 season, Coughlin is still just 53-47 over the past six years -- not a record that screams "headed in the right direction."

The case for keeping Coughlin isn't necessarily that much stronger than the case for moving on. Before settling their heads once more on the pillow of status quo, the people who run the Giants need to make an honest evaluation about where their franchise stands and how much work they have to do to return it to a championship level.

For example: Coughlin seemed to be delivering a message, postgame, in support of embattled defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, whose unit ranked near the bottom of the NFL. Unsolicited, Coughlin said, "Defensively, I think we had a good plan and that the plan was well-taught." And while he has the right to defend (and choose) his own staff, the takeaway was clearly that there's a disconnect between Coughlin's evaluation of Fewell and the public perception that Fewell is a goner. If the front office and ownership believe Fewell must be replaced, there could be a fight over that between them and Coughlin in the coming days.

Which, again, is fine. These decisions shouldn't come without careful, even painful consideration. Fewell's a good guy and a good coach, but the performance of the defense this year and in recent years is the kind that gets coordinators fired. An honest self-evaluation should lead the Giants to do on defense what they did last offseason on offense: Overhaul the whole thing. Refresh it. Bring in a new coordinator, a new scheme and rebuild it with new people in key positions. It may be too extreme to say the defense is "broken," as John Mara said the offense was a year ago, but at best it's stale. The Giants trade on the idea of stability in leadership roles, and in general that's a good and too-unusual way to operate. But it can't be a crutch that keeps you from making tough decisions when they need to be made.

The Giants should be looking at absolutely everything and everyone with a critical eye. It makes no sense that the job status of GM Jerry Reese, with his draft record, isn't even questioned. It shouldn't be automatic that Coughlin, who has won playoff games in only two of his 11 Giants seasons, returns just because the Giants don't want to be a team that fires coaches. And if performance dictates otherwise, it shouldn't be a slam-dunk that Fewell or special-teams coordinator Tom Quinn comes back just because Coughlin likes coaching with them.

Huge decisions loom about player personnel, of course, at the end of all of this. They can't get lulled to sleep by the fact that the offensive line was a bit better in December than it was in September. All offensive lines are. The Giants' line still needs better players. They need to overhaul the pass rush -- the Giants' sack total was inflated by a strong finish -- either around a re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul or around a viable playmaking replacement. They need to address safety and linebacker, look honestly at the run game and decide what the best thing is to do about Manning and his contract.

It's entirely possible that losing Sunday's game was a good thing for the Giants. Something about 6-10 feels a lot worse than 7-9, and if that reminds them of how much work they really have to do on this work-in-progress roster, then good. Because no matter how much they may want to convince themselves they're headed in the right direction, the Giants can't lose sight of how far they are away from where they want to be.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings returned to practice this week and is expecting to play in the regular-season finale against the Eagles this Sunday. Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard, who has a toe injury, is less certain.

Kennard had a plastic walking boot on his left foot and did not practice Wednesday. He said he injured his left big toe early in Sunday's game, kept playing on it, was sore after the game and was very sore Monday morning. He believes he can get ready in time for Sunday's game, but until he gets on the practice field he can't be sure.

Jennings was listed as a limited participant in practice but said he's playing Sunday. Also limited in practice were running back Andre Williams (shoulder), linebacker Jameel McClain (knee) and linebacker Paul Hazel (hamstring).

Due to Jennings' injuries, Williams has taken over the team rushing yardage lead, 678 to 606. Jennings said he's happy about that and wants Williams to be a better player than he is. But he smiled and declined comment when asked if he hoped to pass him.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings missed a third straight day of practice and has officially been ruled out of Sunday's game in St. Louis. Jennings has a sprained right ankle that he aggravated on the first play of last Sunday's game against Washington.

Jennings
Earlier this season, Jennings missed four games with a knee sprain. This is the first game he'll miss due to the ankle injury, which he suffered in Week 13 in Jacksonville, but he was a non-factor in Week 14 in Tennessee and was injured on the first play of the game in Week 15.

Jennings said Friday that his hope is to return to practice next week and play in the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles next week. In the meantime, rookie Andre Williams will make his sixth start of the season. Orleans Darkwa will serve as his backup, and Chris Ogbonnaya is likely to be active for the first time as a Giant.

The only other Giants player on the injury report this week was middle linebacker Jameel McClain, who missed Wednesday's practice with a knee injury but practiced Thursday and Friday. McClain is listed as probable and is expected to play.
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.

Jennings
"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.
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
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. -- Observed and heard in the locker room following the New York Giants' 24-13 victory Sunday over Washington:
    Grimes
    Beckham
  • 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. -- New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings hasn't been on this week's injury report, and he has been a full participant in practices all week. But if you're counting on him to help you win a fantasy playoff game this weekend, you might be disappointed.

Based on the conversations I had at the Giants' team facility today, Jennings' sprained right ankle still isn't fully recovered and is likely to limit his workload at least somewhat in Sunday's game against Washington.

Williams
Jennings
Last week, you might remember, Jennings was a game-time decision and rookie Andre Williams was announced as the starting running back. The plan was to use Jennings on passing downs and see how his ankle responded, but Williams got 27 touches and Jennings only three as the Giants blew out the Titans.

This week, Jennings will surely be active, but it remains to be seen how the work will be split between him and Williams. The Giants don't believe they'll have as easy a time running the ball against Washington's No. 10-ranked run defense as they did against Tennessee's No. 32-ranked run defense, and it's entirely possible Jennings will get more work than he did last week just because the Giants find themselves in more passing situations than they did last week.

One person close to the situation told me the hope was to coax Jennings and his banged-up ankle through one more week in the hope that he'd be back to 100 percent in time for the Week 16 game in St. Louis. If that's the case, and if this game does get out of hand early in the Giants' favor, you're likely to see Williams handle the carries as he did last week. As of now, the Giants feel better about Jennings' status than they did a week ago and believe he'll be of some use to them Sunday. They're just still not sure how much.
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.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It's all still going to be there when the New York Giants wake up Monday. It's all still going to be there a month from now, when their miserable season is over and the talk once again is about blame and change and offseason upheaval. Nothing that happened in Sunday's 36-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans changes what this season has been or what its consequences still might be.

But not one person in the Giants' locker room Sunday afternoon cared even a little bit.

"It just feels so good to win!" running back Rashad Jennings exclaimed. "We're going to enjoy this."

[+] EnlargeOdell Beckham Jr.
AP Photo/Mark ZaleskiOdell Beckham Jr. can finally enjoy a win to go along with one of his monster performances. He had 11 receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown as the Giants won for the first time since his pro debut.
It has been more than two months since the last time the Giants won a game. On Oct. 5, they beat the Atlanta Falcons for their third victory in a row to improve to 3-2. In the 62 days that followed, the Giants experienced every form of football misery imaginable and more than a couple that weren't. They watched star players suffer season-ending injuries. They let second-half leads slip away to division rivals (Dallas) and fellow bottom-feeders (Jacksonville). They committed 15 turnovers, forced only eight and were outscored 208-124.

According to this site, gas prices fell from an average of $3.29 to $2.68 during the Giants' seven-game losing streak. It was a long, long time.

And yet ...

"I was actually very proud of the way these guys have gone through this stretch of time," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after Sunday's win was in the books. "I congratulated them not only for winning, obviously, but on coming to work, applying themselves, preparing, then being frustrated and still coming back in and making an outstanding effort. I thought they had done that week in and week out."

This is the point of Sunday for the Giants. All of the macro outside analysis is correct. The win means nothing for their long-lost playoff chances. It hurts their standing in the draft. It might not be enough to save the jobs of coaches on the hot seat. But that macro perspective doesn't exist or matter inside their locker room or on their practice field, where the players have been banging their heads against the wall for two months with nothing to show for it.

"You forget how good it feels to win and to validate all of the hard work," Jennings said. "Now we get to be on the other side of the excitement for a little bit. We're definitely going to have a good time flying home and knowing that's the kind of football we expect out of ourselves."

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had a monster game, which is nothing new. What was different Sunday was that it came in a win. That Week 5 game against Atlanta was the first of Beckham's career, so the bulk of his brilliance has come without team reward.

"It definitely feels better with a win," said Beckham, who had nine catches for 117 yards and a touchdown before halftime Sunday. "It's hard to talk about how I'm playing when we keep losing games. This feels way better."

The defense, which had 19 sacks in its first 11 games of the season before getting seven last week in Jacksonville, added eight Sunday.

"I think overall, we've been playing well for a while and just not finishing," said rookie linebacker Devon Kennard, who had two of the sacks last week and two more Sunday. "We've known we were capable, and it was nice to finally put that together for four quarters."

Rookie Andre Williams had his breakout game, rolling up 131 yards (including a 50-yard touchdown) on 24 carries. Jason Pierre-Paul and Damontre Moore had two sacks apiece. Eli Manning threw a terrible interception, but it didn't hurt the team this time, and neither did Moore's stupid penalty on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's interception return. This day was all about the positives for the Giants, and it doesn't matter that the Titans are 2-11. These Giants needed to feel this way again, no matter how it happened.

"I have been dreaming about this feeling for seven weeks now," safety Antrel Rolle said. "It has been a while."

Three games remain in a lost season, and the Giants aren't all of a sudden a good team because they won Sunday. They're as likely to lose next week -- yes, even to the dumpster fire raging in Washington -- as they are to win. But they needed this, plain and simple.

It's easy to forget from the outside what these guys put themselves through every week to try to win a game. To go two months without a payoff is unimaginably frustrating on a physical and psychological level. So yeah. The Giants are going to enjoy the fact that they finally found a way to win. And they should.
NASHVILLE -- Backup Ryan Nassib came out for the kneel-downs at the end of the New York Giants' 36-7 blowout victory Sunday, which wasn't necessarily unusual. But the fact starting quarterback Eli Manning was the last one out of the trainer's room following the game was unusual. Manning was getting looked at on the sideline by team medical personnel during the second half, but after the game he insisted nothing was wrong.

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"Just getting iced down on some things," Manning said, somewhat cryptically. "Nothing serious."

If he's got any kind of injury that would limit him in practice, we should know no later than Wednesday, because they'd have to list him on the injury report. As we saw last week with Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys, teams aren't always eager to list their quarterbacks on injury reports, but the league has made it clear that it's going to be vigilant.

At this point, Manning deserves the ultimate benefit of the doubt, as he hasn't missed a start since becoming the Giants' starting quarterback in 2004. It would be shocking news if he couldn't play Sunday against Washington. But keep an eye on it as the week goes along. Could be nothing, could be something.

Somewhat shockingly, there were no other Giants who left Sunday's game due to injury. Running back Rashad Jennings was active in spite of his sprained ankle, but he clearly wasn't 100 percent, and rookie Andre Williams carried the load. Williams had 27 touches to Jennings' three, and Jennings said after the game that he and his ankle likely would benefit from the time off, even if he didn't enjoy it.

"It will be good, I know that, but I'm a player. I want to play," Jennings said. "I'm just happy for Andre. I told him this was going to be his breakout game, and it was."

Williams rushed for 131 yards on 24 carries, including a 50-yard touchdown run.
NASHVILLE -- After missing two days of practice last week with a sprained right ankle, New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings is officially active for Sunday's game here against the Tennessee Titans. The question now is how much the Giants can expect him to play.

From what I have been told, the Giants' plan is to use Jennings mainly on passing downs, with rookie Andre Williams getting the start and most of the first-down and second-down work. It's possible, if Jennings looks good early, his role could expand as the game goes along. But for now, they're planning to lean on Williams against the Titans' No. 31-ranked run defense and use Jennings as a receiving option and pass protector on third downs. The Giants officially listed Williams as their starting running back.

In other news, the Giants are using Damontre Moore as the starting defensive end opposite Jason Pierre-Paul with both Robert Ayers and Mathias Kiwanuka having been placed on injured reserve last week. Spencer Paysinger starts at weakside linebacker with Jacquian Williams and Mark Herzlich back home dealing with concussion symptoms.

Here is the full list of Giants inactives, which only has six names on it this week because the Giants only have 52 players on their 53-man roster:

LB Mark Herzlich
LB Jacquian Williams
OL James Brewer
G Eric Herman
CB Jayron Hosley
RB Chris Ogbonnaya
New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings made the trip to Tennessee with the rest of his team Saturday, and there remains a chance he could play in Sunday's game against the Titans.

Jennings
Jennings is officially listed as questionable for the game with a sprained right ankle. He missed practice Wednesday and Thursday but practiced on a limited basis Friday, and the team was pleased enough with how he looked that it put him on the plane and will evaluate him before the game to see whether he can play.

Making the trip is no guarantee that Jennings will play -- tackle Justin Pugh traveled last week to Jacksonville but was still inactive for the game because of his quadriceps injury. But given the way things looked for Jennings earlier in the week, it has to be taken as an encouraging sign that he will get a shot to play against the No. 31-ranked Titans run defense.

Even if he does play, Jennings might not be 100 percent and could end up sharing carries with rookie Andre Williams and the recently signed Orleans Darkwa.

Tackle James Brewer, linebacker Mark Herzlich and linebacker Jacquian Williams, all of whom are dealing with concussion symptoms, did not make the trip to Nashville.

The Giants also promoted linebacker Paul Hazel from the practice squad and made a point of saying in that announcement that Hazel also plays defensive end. Hazel is a former Cleveland Browns special teams player who signed with the Giants' practice squad Tuesday -- the day they placed five players on injured reserve including defensive ends Mathias Kiwanuka and Robert Ayers. Officially listing him as a LB/DE indicates the Giants think (hope?) he might be able to help as a pass-rusher, though the Herzlich and Williams injuries have left the Giants thin at linebacker as well.

To make room for Hazel on the active roster, the Giants waived defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The New York Giants' offensive line was losing bodies and leaking oil against one of the better pass-rushing defensive lines in the league. Quarterback Eli Manning was in for a rough second half of pressure. On his first dropback of the second half, Manning took a sack near his own goal line and fumbled the ball, and the whole game changed.

At that point, the Giants had a 21-3 lead on the 1-10 Jaguars and looked ready to coast to their first victory since Week 5. But when that ball rolled into the end zone and running back Rashad Jennings tried to pick it up instead of just land on it ("Not very smart," coach Tom Coughlin said later), things began to slide downhill for the Giants.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Stephen B. MortonEli Manning's fumble deep in Giants territory changed the complexion of their loss at Jacksonville.
Jennings explained that his hand got caught on another player's leg and had to adjust in order to try to collect the ball. He said he knew he'd be better off just falling on the ball and taking a safety instead of letting the Jaguars recover it for a touchdown, but that he couldn't get to it as easily as he'd hoped. ("Do the math for me," Coughlin said. "Two from seven.")

The Jaguars did recover, cutting the lead to 21-10, and now they had some momentum. The Giants did nothing with their next three offensive possessions, converting to a conservative game plan seemingly designed to hold the big lead. The Jaguars managed their only offensive touchdown of the game, a sweet 30-yard pass from rookie quarterback Blake Bortles to rookie receiver Marqise Lee, and after Jacksonville's foolish decision to try for two points failed, the Giants took a 21-16 lead into the fourth quarter.

On first-and-10 from their own 48, the Giants ran the ball with Andre Williams, but Jacksonville's Sen'Derrick Marks blew up the play four yards behind the line. Tyson Alualu sacked Manning on the next play, so it was third-and-15 on the Giants' 43. Manning found no one open and checked the ball down to tight end Larry Donnell, who caught it three yards past the line and proceeded to fumble it away. Aaron Colvin recovered it and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown that gave the Jags a 22-21 lead.

Coughlin said the Jaguars hit Donnell low, as teams have and should, given his size, and that he fumbled the ball when he tried to break his fall with his free hand. Donnell explained that it's tough to hold on to a ball when you're falling and landing on your head. But as Coughlin explained to him somewhat heatedly after the play, he needs to figure out a way to do it, because they're going to keep hitting him low.

"I have to figure it out," Donnell said. "It's something I must eliminate, because it's critical to this team. I have to find a way to hold on to the football. That hurt us."

The Giants ended up taking the lead again on a field goal, but they left the Jaguars enough time to go down the field and kick one of their own, and the result was a 25-24 loss thanks to their inability to hold on to the ball when they had a big second-half lead.

"It's harder than you can possibly imagine to go through," Coughlin said. "21-3 at halftime, an opportunity to win a football game, and instead we give them two touchdowns with our offensive team. Our defense doesn't even have to be challenged there. Make people work for it, at least."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Observed and heard in the locker room following the New York Giants' 25-24 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday:
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    Coughlin
    Giants coach Tom Coughlin was at a loss to explain how his team blew a 21-0 lead by letting the Jaguars score two touchdowns on fumble recoveries in the second half. "This team [Jacksonville] is 0-4 when it loses the turnover battle," Coughlin said. "It's 100 percent. And we turn it over three times? Two for touchdowns? And we get nothing? It just doesn't make any sense. We could have knelt on the ball in the second half and had a better chance to win."
  • Guard Geoff Schwartz had his injured left ankle in a boot and left the stadium on crutches. He did not sound optimistic about his prospects for playing again soon. Coughlin said Schwartz had tendon damage. ... Coughlin also said he had no information on Robert Ayers' pectoral muscle injury, but that if it's torn, that would end Ayers' season. ... Running back Rashad Jennings said he tried to push off on his injured right ankle and couldn't, which is why he couldn't go back in the game in the fourth quarter, but he's not worried about the injury costing him more time. ... Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said he injured his shoulder early in the game, and that's why he wasn't on the field at the end. ... Rueben Randle said he was benched for the first quarter because he was late for a meeting Friday.
  • And in perhaps the most shocking quote of the day, safety Antrel Rolle said, "I'm at a loss for words," though he did continue to talk after that.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants right tackle Justin Pugh exited the team's 16-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the first half due to injury, and did not return.

The Giants labeled Pugh's injury as a strained quad, and coach Tom Coughlin revealed after the game that Pugh actually first suffered the injury in last week's defeat in Seattle. But he practiced all week and did not appear on the Giants' official injury report.

"That was the shocker. The kid worked his tail off in practice, I don't think he ever missed a snap," coach Tom Coughlin said.

Charles Brown replaced Pugh, and struggled. Coughlin had no update on Pugh's status after the game.

Speaking of the injury report, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also did not appear on it this week, for the first time in several weeks.

But he was shuffled in and out of the lineup again Sunday, didn't look 100 percent when he was on the field (he was beaten on Michael Crabtree's 48-yard touchdown) and finished the game on the sideline with his right leg heavily wrapped.

Rodgers-Cromartie said he's dealing with the same injury that has hampered him in the past few games.

"It limits your movement, the things you need to be able to do as a defensive back," he said.

Chykie Brown, whom the Giants picked up off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens earlier this month, served as Rodgers-Cromartie's replacement.

Giants wide receivers Rueben Randle and Preston Parker both got dinged up Sunday but returned to the game.

Parker suffered a sprained ankle. Randle was dealing with cramps and also took a couple of hard shots, but said he was OK afterward. He finished with seven catches for a career-high 112 yards.

Running back Rashad Jennings returned to action after missing four games with a sprained MCL. But he gained just 59 yards on 18 carries (3.3 yards per carry), and was stuffed on a critical 4th-and-1 play late in the third quarter.

"I didn't make enough plays," Jennings said. "The ball is in my hands and I have to make the play."

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