Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has a problem all coaches wish they had — paring a roster of 75 good players down to the mandated 53 by Friday night.
While some egos will be bruised and dreams put on hold, Coughlin said it’s still a good situation for coaches to have.
“It is tough, but that’s a good thing for us,” Coughlin said when asked about having to cut some talented players.
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One player who went from afterthought signing to a possible lock on the 53-man roster is undrafted rookie defensive end Adewale Ojomo. The former Miami Hurricane came into camp with no fanfare but ended leading the team with four sacks.
“I’m really nervous right now at this point,” said Ojomo, who added a sack in the finale. “This is my livelihood. It’s a lot banking on this, so I’m kind of nervous right now. I’ll just be getting my mind mentally ready for whatever comes.”
Whatever comes for guys like Ojomo, defensive end Justin Tuck said everyone who played in the preseason finale deserve to be in the league, no matter what happens on cut day. Tuck’s immediate future is obviously secure, but according to running back Andre Brown, it was still nice to hear that from a revered veteran. The four-year veteran has been cut eight times in his career but doesn’t lack for confidence. He certainly feels his team-high 55 rushing yards in the finale helped his cause — even if he did almost cost the Giants a possession late in the game with a fumble.
“I feel that we put a solid group of guys together,” Brown said of himself and his fellow fringe teammates. “We have been pretty competitive since camp, [and] I feel we put a solid group of guys together. Whatever happens tomorrow, I feel that it’s going to be hard for them to make the choices upstairs. … Some of the guys are going to catch [on]. Probably not here, but probably somewhere else.”
Wideout David Douglas said he thinks he also did all he could do to preserve a spot on the roster — either as an active member of the 53-man squad or as one of the eight practice squad players the Giants can bring back, provided no one else claims them off waivers upon being released.
“I think [I did enough to stick]. I just took it day-by-day from the first day I got out here and that’s really all you can do coming in as a free agent and a rookie trying to make a team,” said Douglas, who was a fan favorite during camp with his acrobatic catches and dazzling returns. “I felt like I came out and I gave it my all every day and that’s really all you can do.”
Douglas, who didn’t get a lot of action against the Patriots, said the waiting part will be the most nerve-wracking experience since becoming a pro.
“It’s just kind of waiting, I guess, to see what happens,” he said of the certain weariness. “It’s been a long time coming to this day and a lot of us will be in the hotel. A lot of us younger guys waiting to kind of see our fate. We’ll see what happens. …You don’t want the phone to ring.”
Big Blue notes
»The players’ union approved a rule change that will allow one designated player to return from injured reserve (IR) and play this season. Coughlin said every team can use it differently but declined to say if the Giants plan on using their option this season. One “marquee” player placed on injured reserve will be able to return to practice after the sixth week of the schedule and to the lineup after the eighth week.
Either defensive tackle Chris Canty (knee) or tight end Travis Beckum (knee), who are both on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, are eligible for this legal loophole, but if one of them isn’t the reserved player, they won’t be eligible to be activated until Week 6. If a team chooses to take a player who has already been placed on IR during training camp and designate him as the IR player that they want to be able to return later in the season, teams must designate this player by 9 p.m. on Friday.
Among the Giants who were placed on IR during the preseason are defensive end Justin Trattou, offensive lineman Brandon Mosley and defensive tackle Martin Parker. For all other players who are not currently on IR, teams can only designate a player with a “major injury” for the new rule after 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 4, or thereafter during the season. The rule defines a major injury as “an injury that renders the player unable to practice or play football for at least six weeks (42 calendar days) from the date of injury.”
The “designated for return” IR player is eligible to practice after being on the reserve/injured list for at least six weeks from the date he is placed on IR. That player can return to the active roster at least eight weeks from the date he is placed on reserve. If not Canty or Beckum, among the other banged-up players that the Giants could use the exemption on includes linebacker Michael Boley (hamstring), offensive tackle Will Beatty (back) and cornerbacks Terrell Thomas (ACL), Prince Amukamara (ankle) and Jayron Hosely (toe).
The league also agreed to move the league’s trading deadline back two weeks to after games played in Week 8. Moving the trade deadline could create more action than in the past, when teams — the Giants especially — rarely moved players at the deadline.
»Speaking of injured players, Coughlin said he’s “optimistic” about getting valued defensive tackles Marvin Austin (back) and Shaun Rogers (blood clot) sooner than later: “There’s optimism but I don’t know how long. It’s a wee bit frustrating because of the lack of time they’ve had on the field. That’ll prevent them from being where they should be. Those are issues we’ll have to deal with.”
»Cornerback Terrell Thomas is still a ways from returning, according to Coughlin: “I wouldn’t even guess [on Thomas’s availability for opening night]. Medically that hasn’t been indicated to me.
»Beatty will also be a question mark heading into the opener, but Coughlin said he may be closer than Thomas: “He’s practiced, which is encouraging. He’s been working on his core so I’m really looking forward to seeing the continuation of his strengthening session. I’m looking forward to seeing him on Saturday [for practice]. … We will see [about opening night].”
»Amukamara said he’s “hoping” to be ready for the Cowboys because if he misses the game it’ll be his second missed opener in as many seasons as a Giant. Last year, he was the team’s first-round draft choice, but missed the season’s first nine games after breaking his foot early in training camp.
Hosley allowed that he thinks he’s closer than Amukamara: “I’m taking it day-by-day. Right now, I’m feeling pretty confident that I’ll be ready. The trainers have been doing a great job getting me ready, and getting me prepared to get back on the field as soon as possible.I’m feeling pretty confident about playing against Dallas.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.