While the greater New York City area was feeling the ripple effects of an earthquake, inside Giants headquarters they were experiencing their own tremors.
Fresh off Monday night’s impressive — yet costly — win, Big Blue found out that besides starting cornerback Terrell Thomas’s torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), his backup, Brian Witherspoon, suffered the same injury. Thomas, who’s in the final season of his contract, was put on injured reserve, while Witherspoon was placed on the waived/injured list.
If that wasn’t bad enough, prized second-round pick Marvin Austin also appears to be out for the year with a torn left pectoral muscle. Sometimes players can play through the pain, but according to head coach Tom Coughlin, this doesn’t seem like one of those instances.
“I think this one is [a season-ender],” Coughlin said during yesterday’s conference call. “Sometimes it can be nurtured back but in his situation, where he plays and the degree of the injury [where] he had his arm out and it got caught ... he’ll require surgery.”
The Giants immediately filled Austin’s spot with eight-year veteran Jimmy Kennedy. The defensive end and former first-round pick out of Penn State worked out for the team last week, but waited until yesterday to sign. Kennedy, a Yonkers native, was more than happy to come home but is likely not the solution to the Giants’ problems. Suddenly, one of the team’s strengths has lost two key cogs —Austin and Osi Umenyiora.
“We’re not in a great frame of mind today. I feel badly for those guys and our team,” Coughlin said, but quickly added someone within their own team will hopefully step up. “I think the guys will rally. It’ll be a bigger plus if we find there are contributors on our own team that can help us. We’re sure going to have to push ourselves through this.”
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The defending Super Bowl champion Packers had 15 players on IR last season, but still rallied to win the title. While not using them as an example by name, Coughlin said that’s what good teams do.
“I’m disappointed in the injuries, but this is football. Over all the years this has always been the most frustrating thing [dealing with injuries],” said Coughlin. “But you have to recognize it happened, feel bad for the players who got injured, but then you get back to work and do the best you can … just moving on.”
There are many routes the Giants can go to fill the voids. Switching players’ positions, however, is not an option for now. Coughlin acknowledged that his team is very versatile, but it’s kind of late in the process to ask guys to learn entirely new positions.
“We’re aware that Antrel [Rolle] was a corner but we have designs of him at safety and coming down [to the line of scrimmage] and blitzing,” Coughlin said. “We have a couple guys who played corner before but I’m reluctant to put more on their plates as far as learning, so at this time we’d like to keep Antrel at safety.”
Next Tuesday is the first wave of cuts, with final roster pairing Sept. 3, so the Giants will definitely be in the market for more secondary help. Coughlin said the plans for free agent workouts are already in place.
“We’ll do the best we can to gather quality players for a workout and then see where we are,” said Coughlin. “We only have five healthy corners (Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, Michael Coe, Joe Burnett and rookie Darnell Burks) and we want to make sure we move quickly so we can complete these final preseason games.”
Following the Bears game, Coughlin got testy when discussing why his defensive starters where still playing in the waning seconds of the first half. Thomas went down on a corner blitz with less than 30 seconds remaining. The coach said he will not second guess his decision and added he’s not sure how long his guys will play in Saturday’s matchup against the Jets.
“We basically have taken some licks at one spot and it’s unfortunate but not unusual in football. At this point in time I’d say no [on scaling back the reps] but we’ll see,” he admitted, quickly trying to accentuate the positives of Monday night’s win. “We’ve been relatively injury free in camp but then [Monday] night, for whatever reason, it happened and now you just have to deal with it. There were many positives last night and you have to be encouraged by that.”
Follow Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 for updates from training camp and coverage of the Giants all season long.