The Giants head into Sunday’s game against the 49ers using the old rallying standby “nobody gives us a chance.” But unlike most instances, Big Blue may actually be on to something considering all the man power they may lack heading to San Francisco.
Wednesday’s initial injury report was a who’s who of notable names. Hakeem Nicks (knee/foot) heads the list, as he didn’t practice and is in serious jeopardy of missing his fourth straight game. Nicks’s slow recovery has given head coach Tom Coughlin little hope for his availability on Sunday.
Coughlin said he’s still not sure about Nicks, but added a cryptic “hopefully” when asked if there’s a chance the Giants (3-2) will have their top wideout available. In prior weeks, Nicks’s customary practice routine would include at least one session, usually on a Thursday. Coughlin, though, said he’s still waiting word from the trainers of Nicks’s readiness.
Whether Nicks — or anyone else on the injury report — plays or not isn’t going to make the 49ers take it easier on the team, noted Antrel Rolle. The veteran safety has been battling a knee injury himself and said whomever steps on the field against the Niners they’re going to have to roll with.
“We don’t hang our head on injuries,” Rolle said. “It’s execution. We’ve been an up and down team, [and] it’s not something that we’re proud of. But we’re 3-2 and trying and looking to get better each and every week.”
Coughlin, who enjoys using slogans and catchphrases to rally his team, flashed a wry smile when spouting all of San Francisco’s accolades, most likely hoping the verbal bouquets will get under his players’ skins. Coughlin also offered that the Giants will head into Sunday’s game with as big a chip as the Niners will likely have following last season’s crushing NFC Championship defeat, simply because of the perceived slights from outsiders.
“I may take the occasion to remind them [his players] that nobody gives us a shot,” Coughlin said. “They have a quarterback [Alex Smith] with a 108 [passer] rating. They have the No. 1 rushing team with 195 yards per game. They score 29.9 points per game and allow [a league best] 13.6 per game, which shows the large margins of victory. They have a powerful [pass] rush unit in getting to the quarterback. And they have exceptional return men, a great punter and kicker. … They’re a very deserving 4-1.”
Rolle played along, also effusing nothing but praise on the 49ers.
“I wouldn’t expect anything [less] from that group. They’re a very talented group. They came down to the wire with us [in the NFC Championship last season] and I only expect them to play better,” said Rolle. “I think under Jim Harbaugh, I don’t think that team is going to be allowed to slack off, especially after the performance they put on last year. I think they can only get better and continue to get better from this point on. … I think they attack it the same way we’re attacking it, playing focused, regardless of the matchup.”
Big Blue notes
»The Giants’ preliminary injury list includes a season-high 13 players for the second week in a row. Besides Nicks, linebacker Chase Blackburn (hip), running back Andre Brown (concussion), defensive tackle Rocky Bernard (quadriceps) and safety Kenny Phillips (knee) missed practice. Coughlin said Phillips will start doing some “non-practice work today.” Tackle David Diehl (knee) will continue the regiment he began last week — light work on the side — though he remains uncertain for the game.
»There was some good news at practice as wideout Ramses Barden (concussion) and linebackers Michael Boley (hip) and Keith Rivers (hamstring) practiced. Rolle and cornerbacks Corey Webster (hand/hamstring) and Jayron Hosley (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis.
» Coughlin said his pass rush, or lack thereof, is worrisome, considering his top three pass rushers — Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora — have combined for just 2.5 sacks so far: “It has definitely slowed us down a little bit. We have to look hard at how we can get this thing resolved, and get some pressure on the quarterback. We’re going to try to help the players be in the best position they can be in to pressure the quarterback. … You’re always hoping for that. When things are really rolling your way, you see we’re maintaining discipline, getting off on the jump, creating some situations where it is single [one-on-one block], rather than the back hanging around or the tight end having to confront the defensive end first before moving on. But we’ve had some pressure from inside, too. We’ve had [defensive tackle] Linval [Joseph] put pressure on. Overall, though, there hasn’t been a lot of that, and we haven’t had much of an impact.”
»It’s doubtful that Harbaugh is soaking up Coughlin’s “woe is me” mentality, as the sometimes outspoken head coach had nothing but praise for Coughlin and the Giants during his conference call: “We’re already seeing the obvious things about the Giants. The outstanding team that they are — explosive offense, very balanced, exceptionally balanced. They do everything well offensively. And defensively, the same — great up front, just an all-around top team in the league.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.