The Giants placed linebacker Antonio Pierce on injured reserve yesterday, ending his season. Eli Manning could be next.

Manning’s troublesome plantar fasciitis of his right heel has morphed into a stress reaction. If it turns into a stress fracture, the Giants could be forced to shut him down for the year.

Naturally, Manning said this newest development had nothing to do with the egg he laid last Thursday in Denver, when the Giants lost for the fifth time in six games.


“I am not overly concerned with it,” said Manning, who had a 65.6 passer rating in a 26-6 loss to the Broncos. “Obviously this is kind of new news to [everyone outside the locker room] but something I have been playing with for four weeks…I don’t feel like it is affecting my performance on the field.”

The stress reaction may not affect him right now but Manning should be weary if it turns into a stress fracture. The latter is a debilitating injury and would certainly require extensive rehabilitation, effectively ending his season. To get a better grasp of what could lie ahead for Manning, stress reactions are what ultimately doomed the career of basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton.

Manning, however, said he isn’t too alarmed and just wants to focus on the Cowboys. He said being off Sunday was essentially a second bye week to rest ailments because there’s 10 days between the Denver and Dallas games. He also said he has “no concerns whatsoever” about possibly being shut down for the season.

Even though Manning’s foot is a topic of interest again, that may be the least of their problems. Following the Denver loss, several unnamed offensive players bristled at the way offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride called the game. Following the loss, sources said a handful of Giants were scratching their heads wondering why Brandon Jacobs only carried the ball 11 times, while Manning was allowed to attempt 40 passes. The Broncos yielded 38 total yards of offense in the first half and held Manning without a touchdown pass for the first time all season.

That type of inconsistency in the gameplan is beginning to rattle a few Giants. The players in question wondered why Gilbride called so many stretch running plays against a Broncos defense that was quicker – but smaller – than the Giants offensive line. Running sideline to sideline was playing right into Denver’s scheme, as the Giants failed to run right at them. Whether it was the shoddy play-calling or what Jacobs lamented as a “lack of execution…lack of guys not playing hard enough”, it’s up to New York to rally quickly because the hated Cowboys will not be throwing a pity party.

Manning took solace in knowing that what little destiny the Giants have left, at least three of the remaining five games are against their division foes.

“It’s good but we can’t worry about what other teams do,” he reasoned. “We just have to take care of what we can control.”

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