Hakeem Nicks will not play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Eight other Giants did not practice today, including five defensive starters and guard Chris Snee.
But the injury news wasn't all bad for the Giants. Although they weren't on the field today, cornerback Corey Webster and safety Antrel Rolle both stated they will be in uniform on Sunday.
Webster said he strained his hamstring in practice last Friday. He also has a broken hand, but was able to play a full game Sunday night in Philadelphia. Rolle also played, despite suffering lacerations and contusions on his knee two weeks ago at Carolina.
"No doubt," Webster said when asked if he plans to play against the Browns. "Just want to take the proper precaution not to set myself back and hopefully I can take these two days off and I could be good for the rest of the season."
Tom Coughlin said Webster's day off was largely precautionary.
"He didn't have a setback," Coughlin said. "We originally thought that he would be able to practice and run today, but then the doctors felt like he may want to wait another day."
But Coughlin was less certain about Webster's availability for Sunday.
"I don't know, I hope so," he said.
Rolle hasn't missed a game in his three seasons with the Giants and seldom skips a practice rep. He didn't enjoy sitting out today.
"Whenever I'm not out there, it's not something that I'm ever going to be comfortable with," Rolle said. "It's not a feeling that I'm familiar with either and it's definitely not a feeling I want to get used to. Sometimes in this league there are a lot of things that take place and you just have to be smart about some of the things that we do and that's exactly what we're doing. We're just being smart about our approach for this upcoming Sunday and as things get better, the more I'll be out there."
Asked if he still had swelling in the knee, Rolle replied, "I'll be good on Sunday."
Even with Webster and Rolle available, the Giants will start their fourth different secondary combination in five games. "It's been a revolving door," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "We have not been fortunate enough to stay healthy." Strong safety Kenny Phillips sat out practice with a knee sprain and is expected to miss the Browns game and perhaps more time. First-year Giant and third-year pro Stevie Brown will start in his place.
"It will be different," Webster said. "Kenny is normally one of the guys that keeps everything together back there. He sees everything. He makes a lot of the calls. He corrects a lot of the calls that the guys make in front, so it will be a difference. It's going to be a challenging situation, but I think that just makes a lot of the other guys more cognizant of what's going on. They need to pay attention a little more. Don't just rely on him to know it. Know it for yourself, so I think guys are doing that this week studying, preparing and they should be able to handle it."
The other sidelined defensive players were linebacker Michael Boley (hip), tackle Rocky Bernard (quadriceps) and rookie cornerback Jayron Hosley (hamstring). Another linebacker, Keith Rivers, was limited by his hamstring injury. Fewell said he expects Boley or Rivers to play. If Bernard can't go, two players with little experience, Marvin Austin and seventh-round draft choice Markus Kuhn, will get more time.
No matter how many players are hurt, the Giants will never use injuries as an excuse for not getting the job done.
"Injuries alter how you play or some things that you'd like to do," Fewell said. "But our philosophy is, 'The next man's up.' So that person has to know his role and go in and step in and play and I believe we can execute what we'd like to call."
Coughlin was asked if the injuries affect the defense's aggressiveness.
"Well, it causes you to give real strong consideration to how you're doing things and who's doing it," he said. "Hopefully, it's not going to restrict us very much. Based on today, the guys that had a chance to practice today played and practiced hard. That's pretty much been the way it's been for us here. When someone is injured and can't go, someone else comes in and plays well or tried as hard as they can, and gives us a great effort."
The offense is also counting on backups to be productive. Nicks will miss his third consecutive game with foot and knee ailments. And Coughlin said "there's no change" with Ramses Barden, who suffered a concussion against the Eagles. The absence of Nicks and Barden will leave the Giants with four available receivers: Victor Cruz, who leads the team with 32 catches, Domenik Hixon, Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan. Combined career receptions of Randle and Jernigan: one.
"I think (Randle) has shown some improvement the last couple of weeks in all areas and I think we're looking forward to him making some plays for us," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. "He needs to make some plays for us and he's going to be in a position where the ball is going to come his way and he certainly catches it well enough. Now it's a matter of doing the things necessary to get uncovered, get open and you hope that he has the ability to do that. I think he does.
"(Jernigan) has enough quickness. He should be far enough along in his understanding to know how to get open and use his abilities that he has. To date, it hasn't happened for him. When we've put him in, when we've given him a chance, he hasn't capitalized the way we think he can and I would keep waiting for him to do what we feel he has the potential to do, which is use the quickness and speed he has to get separation and he should be a difficult matchup for people. He's got enough quicks to make it hard."
The last player sitting out practice was right guard Chris Snee, who has missed only one game in the previous seven seasons. He has a hip injury. If Snee can't play, Gilbride said Mitch Petrus – who was waived and re-signed last month – would "probably" start in his place.
Tackle David Diehl was limited because of the knee injury that kept him out of the previous two games, but remains hopeful of returning on Sunday.
Center David Baas (hand) and cornerback Michael Coe (hamstring) practiced fully.