By Curt Macysyn
With the roster composition as it is, the New York Giants always seem to play with a razor thin margin of error. Last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Big Blue’s offense struggled under the weight of their main receiving threats being less than 100 percent healthy.
In addition, several key injuries on defense took a big bite out of the defensive game plan, as a few of the reserves proved that they are not capable replacements in the starting lineup. This week, with a wounded Dallas Cowboys squad coming into the Meadowlands, the Giants may get back a few players who can bolster their defensive effort.
Offensively, both Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham played injured last week, and the offense looked entirely out of sync. Hopefully with an additional week of rest and treatment for their injured hamstrings, both Beckham (questionable) and Randle (probable) can pose more of a threat in the passing game. Dwayne Harris and butter-fingered Larry Donnell cannot be the top receiving threats for this passing game to click, which was the case last week.
Beckham’s listing may simply be a formality in keeping in compliance with NFL rules, if Tom Coughlin’s commentary means anything. “I’m counting on that, yes,” the head coach responded on Friday when he was asked if Beckham would play on Sunday. That would be great news because practice squad graduate Myles White looks like the second coming of Preston Parker, and Eli Manning does not yet seem confident in letting it rip to Geremy Davis.
Defensively, the Giants usually take one step forward and two steps back each week. Losing Prince Amukamara (pectoral) for at least a month required the team to start embattled Jayron Hosley (-3.4 Pro Football Focus grade) at cornerback. With Trumaine McBride suffering through his annual groin injury, the Giants brought in reinforcements with Brandon McGee and Leon McFadden, except that McGee shows up on this week’s injury report with a back problem. Another substitute, Trevin Wade, played 57 snaps on defense, according to Pro Football Focus, before leaving with a concussion.
Both middle linebackers are on the injury report with Jon Beason’s balky knee giving him problems, and Uani ‘Unga experiencing a neck injury. When asked about Plan B at middle linebacker, Coughlin did not appear that worried. “Sure, [Jasper Brinkley] can step in there. [Mark] Herzlich can step in there, and we have some guys that can do that,” Coughlin said.
Given the nature of the Dallas offense, the G-men may also elect to play a three safety set with Craig Dahl getting some more playing time. Dahl had eight tackles in 33 snaps on Monday; the best production on defense.
Getting both Robert Ayers and Devon Kennard back on the field this week is important for the Giants, as both players are top defenders. Ayers in particular can rush the passer, a critical shortcoming for Big Blue, and Kennard fills the gaps well from his linebacker position and is a strong tackler, something that has been missing the past two weeks. “I can’t wait to strap it up again and be out there with my guys,” said Kennard in comments posted on Twitter.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and you better believe that the Cowboys will be attacking Hosley and the slot cornerback, whether it be McBride or Wade, this week.
Rueben Randle, WR (Hamstring)
Devon Kennard, LB (Hamstring)
Robert Ayers, DE (Hamstring)
Johnathan Hankins, DT (Calf)
Jon Beason, LB (Knee)
Odell Beckham Jr., WR (Hamstring)
Jonathan Casillas, LB (Calf)
Trumaine McBride, CB (Groin)
Brandon McGee, CB (Back)
Uani ‘Unga, LB (Neck)
Trevin Wade, CB (Concussion)
Prince Amukamara, CB (Pectoral)
Victor Cruz, WR (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.