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Saturday, September 17, 2011
Justin Tuck, Hakeem Nicks questionable

By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

Two key New York Giants starters are questionable for Monday night's home opener against the St. Louis Rams.

Defensive end Justin Tuck, who missed Week 1 with a neck injury, was limited in Saturday's practice.

Same goes for wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who suffered a bone bruise and a hyperextended knee in the first quarter of the Giants' season-opening loss to Washington.

Tuck predicted Friday that he would be a game-time decision for Monday night. Nicks guaranteed that he will be on the field.

As expected, defensive end Osi Umenyiora (knee) has been ruled out for Monday. Tight end Travis Beckum will also sit with a hamstring injury. Jake Ballard will likely start in place of Beckum.

As for Tuck, the Giants' defensive captain said Thursday that his "gut" told him that he'll suit up in Week 2.

Of course, his gut told him the same thing prior to the Redskins game.

"My gut was wrong once," Tuck said. "I hope I don't make that a trend."

Tuck said Thursday that there was no soreness in his neck. He did acknowledge that he is still affected by the injury, though he was evasive when pressed on the matter.

"There's no pain," Tuck said. "There's something else, but there's no pain."

As for Nicks, the wideout said Friday that he would "be on the field," though the decision will largely rest with team doctors.

"I'm pretty comfortable with what they're telling me," he said.

Nicks caught seven passes for 122 yards Sunday, so losing him would be a crushing blow. It is unclear who would start in his place. Candidates include Domenik Hixon and Victor Cruz. The newly signed Brandon Stokley is a remote possibility.

Tuck's absence, obviously, would also loom large for the Giants.

New York sacked Rex Grossman four times without Tuck or Umenyiora last week. But the secondary was torched by Grossman for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell attributed that in part to the absence of Tuck and Umenyiora.

It is unclear at this point how long Umenyiora will be out. He worked on the side during Friday's practice and moved well, according to Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

The veteran defensive end had arthroscopic surgery on his bothersome left knee Aug. 19 and was expected to be out four to six weeks. It is possible he could be healthy enough to return Week 3 in Philadelphia.

Beckum, the Giants' starting tight end, will miss his second straight game with a hamstring ailment. He had not practiced all week.

Ballard started in his place last Sunday, catching two balls for 59 yards.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.