In less than 24 hours, the New York Giants lost their most productive cornerback and leading tackler, an emerging backup cornerback and a promising second-round pick.
Cornerbacks Terrell Thomas and Brian Witherspoon both suffered season-ending torn ACL injuries and coach Tom Coughlin revealed that defensive tackle Marvin Austin will need season-ending surgery to repair his left pectoral muscle, which was injured during the Giants' 41-13 victory over the Chicago Bears on Monday.
"Obviously we are not in a great frame of mind today," Coughlin said in a conference call with reporters. "I feel badly for these guys and for our team."
Austin's injury came as a surprise and Coughlin said the 6-foot-2, 312-pounder taken in the second round out of North Carolina will have to wait until next season to play. Austin missed all of last season at North Carolina due to suspension over his alleged involvement in the NCAA agent scandal that rocked the school.
When asked if Austin's injury is a season-ending one, Coughlin replied, "Yes, I think this one is."
"Sometimes they (torn pectoral injuries) can be nurtured back to some kind of significance," Coughlin said. "But in his situation, playing where he plays and the degree of the injury -- he got caught with his arm out to the side which is the way it happens so many times -- the doctors decided that this requires surgery."
The Giants made a flurry of moves, likely in an effort to begin bringing in some healthy bodies to reinforce their thin secondary. The Giants placed Thomas on season-ending injured reserve and put Witherspoon, wide receiver Samuel Giguere and cornerback Woodny Turenne on the waived/injured list.
The Giants did add a player, signing defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy, an eight-year veteran who has played for four teams. Kennedy was a move that was in the works before the Austin injury.
Coughlin said the team will be working out free agent cornerbacks to help a depleted secondary which lost Thomas after defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul unintentionally leg-whipped Thomas' knee as the two were pursuing Bears quarterback Jay Cutler with 22 seconds left in the first half.
The injury is significant because Thomas led the team in tackles (101) and interceptions (5) last year and was determined to have a Pro Bowl season this year.
The fourth-year cornerback, who was in the last year of his contract, was arguably having the best camp of any Giant and was a reliable part of Perry Fewell's defense.
"Terrell Thomas is in great shape, very confident, lost weight, looked faster than he ever has, was very spirited in practices and games and was really a rallying point and motivating factor for the defense," Coughlin said.
Witherspoon had an impressive camp as well and was on his way to making the final roster when he tore his ACL on a punt return against the Bears.
"I was doing well in training camp," he said Monday night before undergoing an MRI on Tuesday. "For me to get an injury at this point in time when I had such a good opportunity to make this team, it is disappointing.
"Just planted on a return, the last return and the knee just gave in."
The Giants' secondary has now lost Thomas, Witherspoon and Bruce Johnson (Achilles) for the year. First-round pick Prince Amukamara remains out with a broken foot and may not return until mid- to late-September.
"I don't have any revised timetable," Coughlin said when asked about Amukamara, who still has his foot in a boot and moves around with the aid of a scooter so he doesn't put any weight on his broken foot. "From the information I'm hearing it's still a 10-week kind of a rehab and recovery."
"We will do the best we can do to gather as many players, quality players, at this point in time and try to get them in here for a workout and see where we are," the coach said. "I think our guys will come rallying back. But some of the people that we have here, some of the people that we may be able to discover, if they can help us, that will be a big plus. I think our guys will continue to believe in themselves and certainly be disappointed in the news as we all are and maybe it will be an opportunity for somebody else."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.