By Curt Macysyn
The New York Giants escaped Dallas last week with no new serious injuries. Even so, Big Blue has a new quartet of players populating the injury report this week, and two of the new players have been ruled out of Sunday’s matinee against the Atlanta Falcons. The only unknown at this point is the status of oft-injured Jon Beason.
Overall, the biggest concern heading into this Week 2 contest is middle linebacker. Jon Beason has been out of action since the preseason with a balky knee, and his replacement, Uani’ Unga, played every defensive snap against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Unga was limited in practice on Wednesday, but returned fully on Thursday and Friday, so he appears to be set to suit up on Sunday. Hopefully there are no lingering effects from his injury. Beason, on the other hand, was listed as a limited participant on Thursday and Friday, and he makes the injury list as doubtful for Sunday. He will likely be a game time decision.
Let’s be honest: Wide receiver Victor Cruz went from sitting out the preseason to get ready for Week 1 to missing the first game with a calf injury. He remains unable to practice and may be at least another two to three weeks away from game action. The Giants could have used him last week, as Preston Parker had a terrible game as Cruz’s replacement in the slot, raising questions about why veteran James Jones was cut. Rookie Geremy Davis is available for game action if Parker’s funk continues, and it would also be nice if Rueben Randle showed up this week in order to take some pressure off of Odell Beckham, Jr.
Defensive end Owa Odighizuwa (foot) was inactive last week, and he has been unable to practice this week, which is too bad because the Giants need all the help they can muster in the pass rush. Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn injured his knee against the Cowboys, but stayed in the game. Kuhn was unable to practice for the entire week, so he was ruled out for Sunday.
Mistake-prone Damontre Moore and veteran George Selvie played 20 and 30 snaps respectively, according to Pro Football Focus. The distribution may change, especially if Cullen Jenkins has to move exclusively to the inside because of the Kuhn injury. Recent acquisition Louis Nix will probably dress and make his debut for the New York Giants.
Rookie offensive tackle Ereck Flowers gutted out the Cowboys’ game and returned to practice immediately this week, which caught the attention of head coach Tom Coughlin. “Well, basically, he said I’m playing and I’m practicing. It’s a breath of fresh air. Guy has an ankle, oh well. I started talking to him on Tuesday — ‘I’m practicing’ and he did,” Coughlin said to reporters on Wednesday. Flowers’ presence on the injury report appears to be a mere formality.
Finally, tight end Daniel Fells will miss Sunday’s contest with a foot injury, which will press Jermaine Cunningham into action. Fell saw 34 snaps against Dallas, while Larry Donnell was in for 42 snaps on offense. While Cunningham is an upgrade over since departed Adrien Robinson, that statement in and of itself does not change the fact that this grouping of tight ends clearly ranks in the bottom third of the league. Common sense would have seemed to indicate that a pocket passer like Eli Manning could have been helped immensely by the presence of a “real” pass catching threat at the position. For the record, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo found his safety blanket, tight end Jason Witten, in the end zone for the game-winning score last Sunday.
Uani’ Unga, LB (Knee)
Ereck Flowers, OT (Ankle)
Jon Beason, LB (Knee)
Victor Cruz, WR (calf)
Daniel Fells, TE (Foot)
Markus Kuhn, DT (Knee)
Owa Odighizuwa, DE (Foot)
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for Examiner.com, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.