No injury on a football team is ever good news, but for the New York Giants, who last year was one of the league’s healthiest teams, their injury picture for this weekend’s game at Tampa is concerning.
The Giants currently list two linebackers—starters Jonathan Casillas (wrist/ankle) and B.J. Goodson (shin) on their injury report. Linebacker J.T. Thomas (groin), who had been on the injury report, has been placed on injured reserve.
Casillas hasn’t been able to practice all week, instead working with a trainer on a side field where he was spotted doing some light jogging.
If Casillas can’t go Sunday, he’ll likely be replaced in the starting lineup by Keenan Robinson. The Giants also signed Deontae Skinner, who had been with them in the summer, to provide depth on the unit.
Goodson is hoping to return after missing the last two weeks. Goodson has been feeling better and will likely be on a pitch count in his first action back barring any setbacks in practice the rest of the week.
“B.J. – he takes a lot of pride in being a downhill linebacker and tackling and being a physical guy, so if we can get him back, that certainly would help some things,” said defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
The Giants got a mix of good news/bad news this week. The good news is right tackle Bobby Hart (ankle) was been able to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday’s practice. Hart, however remains limited.
Meanwhile Brett Jones, who stepped in at left guard when Justin Pugh had to move to right tackle, is on the injury report with a hip ailment. It’s still a bit too early to determine what the starting offensive line will look like Sunday, but there are a couple of possibilities.
The first would be the original configuration that started the season—Ereck Flowers at left tackle, Pugh at left guard, Weston Richburg at center, John Jerry at right guard and Hart at right tackle.
The more likely scenario, assuming Hart isn’t ready to shoulder a full workload, would probably see D.J. Fluker get a shot at left guard for Jones.
“I think there is a competitiveness and a toughness that D.J. brings to the game,” said offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. “The guy loves football, he’s a grinder and if he’s given an opportunity, as well as all the guys, we feel comfortable about doing everything we can to get them ready and have them be in a position to be successful if they get a chance.”
The Giants could be down two running backs for Sunday’s game as both Orleans Darkwa (back) and Shane Vereen (calf) are nursing injuries that have kept them out of practice this week.
The feeling is that Darkwa could be available on a limited basis if needed, as the Giants didn’t add any help to this position, at least not as of Thursday. Otherwise, it looks as though Paul Perkins and rookie Wayne Gallman, the latter of whom has yet to be active this season, will handle the running back duties.
Defensive end Olivier Vernon (ankle) missed his second day of practice, and the signs are all pointing to him his first NFL game in his six-year career.
On Wednesday, Vernon was able to do some light drill work during the open part of practice, but not participate in the team part of the practice.
Thursday, Vernon didn’t even do any unit work, instead going right to work with a trainer on a side field during individuals, a sign that would indicate that his ankle is still not right.
Vernon said he was able to do “a little bit here and there” on Thursday as he tries to get himself right physically. “Just trying to get back to myself,” he said, adding, “It’s going to take a little it.”
Add to that the Giants reinforcing their depth at defensive end—they signed Cap Capri off their practice squad—and it would be a stunning development if Vernon is on the field Sunday.
“I always try to stay positive,” he said. “I’m just taking it day by day.”
Assuming Vernon doesn’t go, Romeo Okwara will probably get the start in his place, though it might make more sense for the Giants to rotate different guys in that spot based on strength.
We could, for example, see Kerry Wynn on running downs and either Okwara or Cap Capri on passing downs.
Avery Moss, who has been inactive the last two weeks, will also probably be active if Vernon is inactive.