EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The frustration in New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck is obvious.
The coy smiles, the occasional laughs and the usual 20-or-so minute news conference in front of his locker followed by a shooting-the-breeze session were all missing on Thursday after Tuck practiced on a limited basis for Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Instead, Tuck was sullen. There were no smiles or laughs. His answers to questions were short, some limited to a single word.
The preseason neck injury — the dreaded stinger — that has forced the two-time Pro Bowler to miss two games this season is taking a toll. He doesn’t know either when he will play again or if his neck will be healthy again this season.
That’s only part of the problem. Tuck also is upset that some opponents have gotten away with a couple of facemask penalties in the games he played against the Rams and Eagles.
“I mean, they did it before the neck, but it’s a little bit more amplified now,” said Tuck, who admitted that targeting injuries is common in the NFL. “When you get an advantage or you feel like you’ve got an advantage in a situation, you try to exploit that. That’s what teams are doing.”
Tuck would not say specifically who pulled his facemask.
With two games before the Giants (3-1) get a bye, it is conceivable that they could sit Tuck until after the bye to get him healthy.
“Obviously that sounds like the smart thing to do, but we’ll see. I don’t know,” Tuck said. “It’s no guarantee that if I sat out until the bye week that I’d be healthy for the rest of the season. So, you’ve got to go on what you’re feeling that day. That’s why they call it day to day.”
Tuck suffered his stinger on Aug. 29 in a preseason game against the New York Jets. He missed the season opener against Washington, played against the Rams and Eagles and then was inactive this past weekend against the Cardinals.
The 6-year veteran says he is still not 100 percent, and he probably won’t know until Sunday whether he will play against Seattle (1-3).
Tuck changed shoulder pads on Thursday, using a set that was tighter and limited his movement. He also changed his facemask, using one with tighter bars, giving opponents less surface to grab it.
Veteran defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy said teams will put things into their game plans to get an opponent off the field. If a lineman has a bad right knee or right shoulder, they will run the ball to the right side.
Kennedy also said some teams will attack the injury itself.
“We’re all big boys playing this game,” said defensive end Dave Tollefson, who had two sacks last week. “If you are going to go out there with an injury that is the risk you are going to take. I’m not the type of player to go after a guy if he is injured, but to say that doesn’t happen is a lie.”
Tollefson felt it was bush league to try to target an opponent’s injury, such as using a cut block on a player nursing a knee injury.
However, he also said injured players need to protect themselves.
“If a guy is nasty to me, it opens up Pandora’s box to be nasty back,” Tollefson said. “I will never be the guy to purposefully try to injure someone, but if you want to roll around in the dirt, I’m grimy. I’ll roll around there with you.”
NOTES: Center David Baas (stinger) and running back Brandon Jacobs (knee) didn’t practice for the second straight day. Jacobs hopes to practice on Friday. Baas is day to day. Kevin Boothe is filling in for Baas. … LB Michael Boley returned to practice on a limited basis. … CB Corey Webster also practiced after missing Wednesday for undisclosed personal reasons.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.