By Curt Macysyn
Relax Giants’ fans; there is one statistic where the team is at the top of the NFL this season: most players on injured reserved, where the G-men only trail the Baltimore Ravens by one player for this less than coveted top spot. Currently, Big Blue has 21 players on the list, while Baltimore leads the league with 22 players formally lost for the season due to injury.
New York continues shuffle bodies on and off the roster as they get ready to take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Starting linebacker J.T. Thomas and long snapper Danny Aiken were placed on the injured reserve list on Thursday. To fill the openings on their roster, the Giants signed linebacker Nico Johnson from the practice squad and long-snapper Tyler Ott, who are eligible to make their Giants’ debuts Sunday at home vs. Philadelphia.
Johnson has played with the Chiefs, Bengals and Redskins since being a fourth round draft pick (99th overall) for Cincinnati in the 2013 draft. Meanwhile, Ott is the first player in Giants’ history from Harvard.
Staffing the linebacker and safety positions with healthy bodies will continue to be a focus this week as former starters at linebacker, Devon Kennard and Thomas, are now lost for the season. Jonathan Casillas has been picking up the slack, and he played 67 of 71 defensive snaps against the Minnesota Vikings with a grade of (-0.5), according to Pro Football Focus. Casillas was signed in the off season to bolster special teams and provide depth at the position, but he has played a significant amount of time in the base package.
Safeties Craig Dahl and Cooper Taylor were not released from the NFL concussion protocol, and the team will have neither player on Sunday, which likely necessitates another roster move or two. Offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse finds himself in the NFL concussion protocol this week as well and will not play on Sunday. Rookie Bobby Hart was in for 27 snaps last week in place of Newhouse and played to a (-1.7) grade, while Newhouse was in for 37 snaps before his injury and graded (-2.1).
You can bet your bottom dollar that Jason Pierre-Paul plays on Sunday even if he is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. Pierre-Paul has been a motivational player since returning to the club after his unfortunate fireworks accident this summer.
Wide receiver/return specialist Dwayne Harris looks worn down, and he played 33 of 63 offensive snaps last Sunday. Harris finds himself on the injury report again this week as he continues to battle shoulder and back injuries, but he will likely see the field for at least a few snaps in the season finale.
If you want a referendum on the Giants’ coaching this season, then consider this question: what other team with a Super Bowl winning quarterback has to utilize two rookie tackles in pass protection?
Dwayne Harris, WR (Shoulder/Back)
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE (Ankle)
Danny Aiken, LS (IR/Thumb)
Craig Dahl, S (Concussion)
Marshall Newhouse, OT (Concussion)
J.T. Thomas, LB (IR/Ankle)
Cooper Taylor, S (Concussion)
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.