It was almost comical how bloated the New York Giants injury report was for a while there, but the team came out of the San Francisco 49ers game pretty healthy and we just might be turning a corner here. With Hakeem Nicks back in the fold, Chris Canty ready to return and Kenny Phillips hopefully only a week or two away, the Giants should be feeling better than they have all year.
With the memory of running a headline the other week that only half-jokingly wondered if Big Blue would have enough healthy players to field a team for that week's game, the Giants seem to have weathered the worst of the storm (so far) and come out into the sunshine at 4-2. Good timing, with big divisional games against the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys coming up, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers lurking after that.
Don't believe us? Let's go position-by-position and see how they're doing.
Defensive tackle: this unit had been one of the biggest concerns with Chris Canty missing the first six weeks of the season after knee surgery, and that was before it lost Rocky Bernard to a quadricep injury, forcing rookie Markus Kuhn to start against the Niners. But Canty is the rock of this unit and along with Linvall Joseph is expected to dictate play at the line of scrimmage. Canty is easily the biggest difference maker the Giants have been needing to get off the trainer's table, and it looks like he may be back as soon as this week.
Cornerback: Other than Justin Tryon, the keeper of the last spot on the depth chart, every single one of these guys has missed time at some point. But Jayron Hosley and Michael Coe have returned from hamstring injuries and made it through gameplay healthy, Prince Amukamara's sprained ankle is behind him and he is becoming a solid NFL corner before our eyes, while Corey Webster is going to play through a broken hand for a while…emphasis on playing. All hands on deck here, basically.
Safety: The safeties will also be full steam ahead when Kenny Phillips returns from a knee injury, a return that might only be a week or two (or three) away. If Canty returns this week and Nicks stays healthy, Phillips is easily the biggest missing piece left. Antrel Rolle survived his own knee-injury scare and Stevie Brown is looking like a pretty good option as the third safety. If Phillips comes back good to go, the Giants might even be in the position of trimming some fat when Will Hill returns from suspension.
Linebacker: Hamstring injuries to Michael Boley and a persistent one to Keith Rivers (who may, in fact, be the best linebacker on the team) have slowed this unit early on, but both of those guys seemed to have turned a corner there. Jacquian Williams left last game with a calf injury, but we haven't heard whether it's serious yet and even if it costs the youngster a few weeks, it's far from a big deal.
Wide receiver: We're still a bit concerned about Hakeem Nicks (he didn't look 100 percent last Sunday against the Niners) but he's back in uniform so until we hear otherwise we'll consider him a full go. Domenik Hixon is back in his role as the reliable third receiver and the depth is all there with Ramses Barden back from a concussion and Reuben Randle showing two weeks ago that he can produce if called upon. When Nicks gets back to being Nicks, this unit gets back to being one of the best in the league.
Offensive line: Although minor scares with David Baas and Chris Snee, timed perfectly with David Diehl's MCL injury, made us all nervous, looking back the biggest injury was Will Beatty's balky back. Since his return no one has even noticed that Diehl was gone. Although Diehl won't return to the starting lineup, he's healthy again and gives the team much-needed depth. This unit is feeling well and starting to play really well, too.
Running back: Knock on wood, Ahmad Bradshaw is healthy and running well after missing a few weeks with a neck injury. Andre Brown is out with a concussion for now, but Brown looked like a really useful back when Bradshaw was out. Along with rookie David Wilson who has proven he is a threat on kickoffs and out of the backfield (and has held on to the ball), the Giants might have a three-headed monster on their hands when Brown returns.
We've run through just about every unit that's faced injuries and boy is it good to hear that each and every single one is on the up and up. Of course, this could all change tomorrow when the team practices and has to release an injury report, but this is how it looks like it's shaking out as of now.
Good timing for Big Blue too, as Robert Griffin III and the upstart Washington Redskins are on deck this week, with the Dallas Cowboys, who already beat us in Week 1, await in Dallas the week after.
It sure feels good not to see names like Bradshaw, Hosley and Rivers on the inactive list anymore…and if Chris Canty and Kenny Phillips return, and Hakeem Nicks finds that top gear again, the Giants might have be one of the healthier teams in the league. For the first time in a long time.
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