As the Giants prepare to take on the struggling Titans (2-10), head coach Tom Coughlin noted that his team is in no position to take anyone lightly, as Big Blue is in the midst of the league's longest losing streak with seven-straight defeats and battling a myriad of debilitating injuries.
The Titans have their own six-game losing streak and are likely starting a rookie quarterback in the banged-up Zach Mettenberger (sprained AC joint in his right throwing shoulder), but Coughlin insisted that the Giants (3-9) will look at their trip to Tennessee as just as important as facing a divisional rival. Because Big Blue simply needs a win.
"As you look at their schedule and their season, a couple of things jumped right out at me," Coughlin said. "They lost a very close game to the Cleveland Browns, they lost to the Redskins [in the final moments], and they played Pittsburgh in a very good game, [which] everyone saw on Monday night. It was a highly, highly competitive game. They are a football team that has young players that are making outstanding contributions. Mettenberger, [Taylor] Lewan, the left tackle, Bishop Sankey, the running back, Delanie Walker, the outstanding receiving tight end, Chance Warmack, the right guard, and Kendall Wright, who is having an outstanding year."
Coughlin may have a point to not take the Titans lightly, because they're not very good, and because his "next man up" mantra has failed this year. That credo may have worked when the Giants had depth, but this is a thinning roster that has been hit with an incredible amount of injuries this season.
Five players were placed on injured reserve this week. It's a who's who of important playersthat includesoffensive linemen Geoff Schwartz (ankle) and Adam Snyder (knee), defensive ends Mathias Kiwanuka (knee) and Robert Ayers (pectoral), and linebacker Terrell Manning (ankle).Altogether, the IR group stands at a league-high 20 players,including rookie Bennett Jackson, who is on practice squad/injured list.
Coughlin said the team "offers no excuses" when dealing with a wounded roster.
"That’s the way, that’s the game," Coughlin, whose never had more than five players on the IR before this season, said. "The message is keep fighting, that’s what the message has been all along. Someone has to make a play or somebody, some group, some people collectively, have to make a play for us to win. The message is, quite frankly, that we’re going to continue to work, we’re going to continue to support one another, we’re going to fight as hard as we can, prepare as well as we possibly can, and that’s the message.The other message is opportunity. Guys who come along who have a chance at this point in the season to perform, to play and they go into games and have an opportunity to participate at this level when perhaps they had no snaps coming in before. Now they’re going to get snaps and they have a chance to prove their ability, not only to the New York Giants but to the entire NFL. ... We push forward."
Quarterback Eli Manning, who has been a model of great health over his career, agreed with Coughlin that it's nothing the team wants to deal with, but it's a fact of being in the NFL.
"It’s never what you want to see, even though from the offensive standpoint, we've been lucky that it hasn’t been too many of our guys," Manning said. "Our offensive line, the guys we’ll have this week will be the guys we started Week 1, so we should have everybody healthy there, which is good ... We’re going to keep going.We have to try to figure out a way to get a win. That’s what the mindset is. We have to have great preparation and get mentally prepared that we’re going to be successful this weekend.We still feel like we can move the ball and we can play well enough to win a game."
Big Blue notes:
- Offensive tackleJames Brewer (concussion), linebackerMark Herzlich (concussion), and running backRashad Jennings (ankle) did not practice.
- Defensive tackleCullen Jenkins (calf), linebackerJameel McClain (knee), cornerbackDominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back/shoulder), and linebackerJacquian Williams (concussion/shoulder) were limited.Right tackleJustin Pugh (quadriceps) was a full participant.
- The Giants added three players to their roster from the practice squad: guard Eric Herman, defensive tackle Dominique Hamilton, and linebacker James Davidson.
- The team also signed veteran running backChris Ogbonnaya, who has played in 51 regular-season games for St. Louis, Houston, Cleveland and Carolina with 12 starts.
- Odell Beckham Jr. has the franchise's rookie record in sight. He needs 196 receiving yards in the final four games to set the rookie mark in a season. He's currently averaging 87.4 yards per game. If he continues that average, he'llhave another 349 yards to give him 1,048 for the season -- in only 12 games.