Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL [Print without images]

Friday, September 9, 2011
Justin Tuck questionable for Sunday

By Ohm Youngmisuk and Ian Begley
ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J -- The New York Giants' injury-plagued defense may be missing its captain on Sunday.

Defensive end Justin Tuck's availability for the season opener against the Washington Redskins is up in the air due to a lingering neck injury. He is officially listed as questionable for the game.

"I'm hopeful," Tuck said. "We'll see what happens."

Tuck was limited in Friday's practice but did not appear to be affected by the injury during the portion of practice open to the media.

Tuck said Thursday that he was concerned about the lingering pain in his neck, raising questions about his availability for Week 1.

After going through a limited practice Wednesday, Tuck did not practice Thursday. He went through all of the drills with defensive linemen on Friday, which may bode well for his Sunday availability.

"He moved around pretty good," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We'll see."

Tuck is still feeling the effects of a stinger he suffered in a preseason game against the New York Jets on Aug. 29. He shed a block from a tight end before colliding with Jets lineman Vladimir Ducasse on a play during the third quarter. Tuck's left arm slumped and appeared to go limp as he walked off the field.

The defensive end, though, thought it was nothing more than a minor, temporary injury.

"Just a regular stinger. ... I've had a few of those in my career," Tuck said. "Didn't think nothing about it."

More than a week later, the two-time Pro Bowl player did not sound confident about playing against the Redskins.

"I am concerned but I am not panicked," Tuck said. "It is getting better, but just not as fast as I want it to.

"We are going to do what's best," Tuck added. "You don't want to go out there and lose a season off of one game. But if I'm ready to play I will definitely strap it up."

Tuck watched teammate Mathias Kiwanuka miss all but three games in 2010 with a career-threatening herniated disk in his neck. But he said Thursday that his neck ailment does not compare with Kiwanuka's.

"I'm not nowhere near in that situation," Tuck said. "(But) it definitely gives you pause."

Tuck added: "I have played through more pain. It is kind of eerie when you talk about your neck."

If Tuck can't play, he would be the latest in a long list of Giants defensive players to miss time with an injury.

Cornerbacks Terrell Thomas, Bruce Johnson, Brian Witherspoon, defensive tackle and second-round pick Marvin Austin and linebackers Jonathan Goff and Clint Sintim are all out for the year due to injuries. Cornerback Prince Amukamara, the team's first-round pick, also remains out indefinitely with a broken foot.

Defensive end Osi Umenyiora may be sidelined for another week with a knee ailment. If Tuck can't play Sunday, Dave Tollefson could start in his place opposite Jason Pierre-Paul at defensive end.

In other injury news, tight end Travis Beckum is questionable with a right hamstring injury.

Beckum tweaked the hamstring in a practice earlier this week. He made it through the early portion of Friday's practice before the injury flared up again. Beckum, who caught 13 passes for 116 yards last season, is unsure about his availability for Sunday.

If Beckum can't play, tight ends Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe will get more snaps against the Redskins.

Beckum is considered to have better hands than Ballard and Pascoe, but Ballard has surprised some members of the team's staff with his pass-catching ability.

The Giants are looking for their tight ends to fill the void left by Kevin Boss, who bolted for the Oakland Raiders via free agency in the offseason.

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Ian Begley is a regular contributor to the site.