For the Giants, a franchise accustomed to stability, the run-up to the start of the regular season on Sept. 11 has been atypical, and not just because of the four and a half month NFL lockout.
It has been marked by Osi Umenyiora’s demand for a pay raise, intense criticism of Senior Vice President and General Manager Jerry Reese for his perceived lack of aggressiveness in the free agent market and quarterback Eli Manning maintaining that he is on the level of the game’s best quarterbacks.
But rhetoric is irrelevant. For now, Umenyiora is sidelined after undergoing surgery on his right knee, Reese has responded to cynics by declaring his roster playoff talented and Manning carries on with the even-keeled demeanor that has come to characterize him through both success and adversity.
Nevertheless, it is imperative the Giants exorcise the demons of not making the playoffs the past two seasons. Another campaign devoid of postseason play will open the floodgates of verbal attacks, particularly toward head coach Tom Coughlin, Reese and Manning.
What has become evident early on is the Giants will be confronted with enduring problematic injuries, such as the torn ACL suffered by valuable cornerback Terrell Thomas in the second quarter of their 41-13 victory over the Chicago Bears at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Monday night. It is the third major injury to the Giants’ cornerback rotation this preseason.
Their No. 1 draft pick, Prince Amukamara, is out until at least midseason with a broken foot. And Bruce Johnson will miss the entire schedule with a ruptured Achilles.
“I am very disappointed with the injuries that occurred,” said a seemingly disheartened Coughlin. “That’s just the part of the game that makes you shake your head.”
“Somebody is going to have to step up,” asserted team leader Justin Tuck, sitting in front of his dressing cubicle. “He [Terrell] was just a tremendous presence on that football field. Not only on the football field but in the locker room. I think he was primed for a Pro Bowl year.”
“Injuries happen in the league all the time,” cornerback Aaron Ross pragmatically stated. “For Terrell, it’s really unfortunate. [We’ll] try to get out there and fill those shoes.”
As they prepare to face the Jets on Saturday, having an alarmingly depleted secondary has dramatically moved to the top of the Giants’ list of concerns as they rapidly approach Week 1 of the regular season.