By Curt Macysyn
Recently, the New York Giants (2-2) have been on the opposite end of these “teams going in two different directions” games, but at this point, the San Francisco 49ers (1-3) aspire to what the Giants are at the moment, a playoff contender. While it is far too early for Giants’ fans to get excited about a return to the post-season, the team is certainly trending in the right direction. Once again against the 49ers, New York will be without both wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf) and defensive end Robert Ayers (hamstring), as well as linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring) and defensive end George Selvie (calf). Both Kennard and Selvie are new to the injury report this week.
Losing Kennard for the second year in a row with a hamstring injury was disappointing to head coach Tom Coughlin. “[Kennard] has had a very good start to the season, so obviously we lose his energy, his enthusiasm, his love of the game, his physical play. It’s unfortunate that he’s out this week, but hopefully he’ll be back soon.”
Being without Ayers hurts the G-men, too, but complicating matters for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will be the loss of defensive end Selvie for this game with a calf injury. Given the length or recovery for Cruz’s calf injury, Selvie may be out of action for a while. Once again, plan on the Giants utilizing Cullen Jenkins at the defensive end position, something he did effectively last Sunday in Buffalo. Third-year man Damontre Moor may also be a beneficiary of some of Selvie’s playing time on Sunday too. Moore graded out to a (+1.0) in 25 snaps against the Bills by Pro Football Focus, and he can certainly be a contributor, if he plays within himself. Rookie Owa Odighizuwa played 48 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, and he graded out to be (-3.0) in his first action of the season.
Defensive end Kerry Wynn played a team-high 68 snaps along the defensive line, and the Giants will likely get defensive tackle Markus Kuhn back from a knee injury this weekend. In meeting with the media, Coughlin indicated on Friday that he expects Kuhn to play on Sunday. “I think he’ll be able to give us a lot. I think he’ll be ready to go.”
Keep in mind that the Giants also have had no problem putting fullback Nikita Whitlock on defense for a limited number of plays on the defensive line as well. Spagnuolo will try to work his magic by utilizing many combinations at his disposal in the front seven, especially with the front four. With Kennard out of the game, and Casillas likely to be out, the Giants may turn toward Mark Herzlich for some relief at outside linebacker, as well as newcomer Jasper Brinkley. who the team picked up off waivers from the Dallas Cowboys at the end of training camp.
With Daniel Fells being placed on season-ending injured reserve, the Giants would certainly welcome back tight end Jerome Cunningham this week. Practice squad graduate Will Tye may also suit up as insurance at the position, with Larry Donnell becoming the unquestioned starter. Offensive tackle Ereck Flowers should be alright, especially after logging 63 snaps against the Bills.
Finally, cornerbacks Jayron Hosley (concussion) and Trumaine McBride (groin) are tagged as questionable for the game, so Trevin Wade will be called upon more frequently by Spagnuolo. The Giants have only five cornerbacks on their current roster, and only Trumain Jacobs on the practice squad, so that position bears watching in advance of Sunday’s game.
Jerome Cunningham, TE (Knee)
Ereck Flowers, OT (Ankle)
Markus Kuhn, DT (Knee)
Jonathan Casillas, LB (Calf)
Jayron Hosley, CB (Concussion)
Trumaine McBride, CB (Groin)
Robert Ayers (Hamstring)
Victor Cruz, WR (calf)
Devon Kennard, LB (Hamstring)
George Selvie, DE (Calf)
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.