The New York Giants defensive line came to life last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. Despite several disappointing performances leading up to Big Blue's victory at Candlestick Park, the Giants broke out for six sacks against Alex Smith and the vaunted 49ers offense. However, the Giants have been playing shorthanded on the defensive line all season. The absence of Chris Canty has forced defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to play some young, inexperienced players alongside Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Jason Pierre-Paul. But Canty is hopeful he can return to the lineup this Sunday.
The Giants starting defensive tackle underwent knee surgery after the Super Bowl. The extent and specifics of the injury remains unknown, but it was serious enough that the Giants put Canty on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which automatically ruled him out for the first six weeks of the 2012 season. Canty is eligible to practice this week, and he seems excited to start getting back to football.
"It's been tough," the eight-year veteran said. "But I've been trying to keep a positive outlook about it, positive attitude, help my teammates in any way that I can, help the young guys come along. They've been doing a great job. It's exciting. It's fun to be back and be able to play."
The Giants have sorely missed Canty's presence in the middle of the defense for the majority of the season. While last weekend saw a breakout performance by the entire unit, the Giants are thin at defensive tackle and have been plugging in rookies Markus Kuhn and Marvin Austin alongside Linval Josesph.
Even if Canty plays in the Giants home matchup with the Washington Redskins this weekend, don't count on seeing the physical specimen that clogged up the heart of the defense in 2011. Canty has not played since the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI in February. On Wednesday, Canty acknowledged that he's a work in progress.
"Obviously there was some rust to be expected," Canty said. "I haven't played football in eight months, since the Super Bowl. It's a highly competitive game. This is football at the highest level. That's to be expected."
Just because Canty hasn't stepped on the field this season does not mean he has had no impact on the team. Kuhn said on Tuesday that Canty has been a tremendous asset to him as a veteran presence.
"If I had any questions, I was always able to come to him," Kuhn said of Canty. "When we watch film together, he sits there and says: 'Markus, see how you played that' or 'Good job there and not so good job there.' Definitely he's helped a lot."
The Giants will have their work cut out for them on Sunday. With a mobile quarterback in Robert Griffen III coming to MetLife Stadium to take on Big Blue, there is no telling how well the Giants will be able to contain the Redskins' rushing attack. Chris Canty will have a minimal impact on this matchup, but he could once again prove to be critical to the defensive line's success throughout the rest of the 2012 season.
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