You might want to turn off your computer screen, put down that paper or walk away from your mobile device right now Giants fans, because it seems like the torrential downpour of injuries isn’t over yet.
As the Giants prepare to take on the Redskins in what will be an emotional afternoon in the nation’s capital, word has come out that star defensive end Justin Tuck may not be available. Tuck, who has been nursing a sore neck since the Jets preseason game two weeks ago, hasn’t practiced this week and will most likely be a gametime decision.
The seven-year veteran said he was “concerned” but “not panicked” about his neck issue, despite downgrading his status about three different times during his media session. The Giants have already lost starters Jonathan Goff and Terrell Thomas (ACLs) to season-ending injuries — as well as promising rookie defensive tackle Marvin Austin (pectoral) — and will also be without defensive end Osi Umenyiora (knee) and first-round pick cornerback Prince Amukamara (foot) this Sunday.
Tuck, who is the vocal leader of the defense, said he watched how a neck injury ended teammate Mathias Kiwanuka’s season last year and said he’s going to take every precaution to make sure he won’t do further damage.
“Any neck problem is a serious one,” Tuck said. “I don’t know if I’m going to play unless it feels okay. If I’m ready to play, then I’ll strap it up and play. But I talked with Kiwi [Kiwanuka] and … well, we’re going to do what’s best.”
Kiwanuka had a bulging disk in his neck and missed the final 13 games of the 2010 season — his final year under contract. Although he ultimately re-signed with the Giants this summer, there was still trepidation from both sides.
Tuck said he watched the proceedings and will use Kiwi’s experience as a barometer.
“You just don’t take chances with a neck injury,” Tuck said, adding he’s hopeful he can still play Sunday. “I am concerned, but not panicked. It is getting better, but not as fast as I would have liked.”
Tuck’s injury has been diagnosed as a stinger, which are often painful but not considered serious. But when it comes to neck injuries in the NFL, it’s not something that should be taken lightly. If further proof is needed, look at Eli Manning’s brother, Colts quarterback Peyton. The future Hall of Famer had his third neck surgery Wednesday and might miss two to three months, so no one on the Giants’ training staff is going to risk similar danger.
Possibly filling in for Umenyiora and Tuck will be second-year sensation Jason Pierre-Paul and veteran reserve Dave Tollefson. The Giants certainly hope they get Tuck’s services, but no one knows for sure.
Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, however, already sounded like a guy who won’t be coaching Tuck this weekend.
“If we get Justin for Sunday it’s going to be a bonus,” Fewell said. “We hope he plays, but if he doesn’t we’re still ready.”
Head coach Tom Coughlin, who’s seen his share of injuries during the preseason, naturally adopted the obligatory coaching axiom of “next man up,” but he did admit it’s getting tougher seeing such significant pieces getting helped off the field. ?
“Justin says it’s feeling better every day,” Coughlin said. “He says that but he hasn’t practiced. We’d like him to practice … tomorrow is another day.”
If Tuck is unable to play that would be a devastating blow to the Giants defense. Despite all their injuries, with Tuck, they’d have their best player and boast the ability to dominate a game solely with their pass rush. Without him, who knows?
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 for team news throughout the season.