With more of it on the horizon, Tom Coughlin today had to do the toughest part that comes with sitting in the head coach's chair: inform a player of his release.
A day after the Giants' victory over the Patriots in the preseason finale, the team went a different direction at punter, releasing Steve Weatherford and trading a conditional seventh-round draft choice to the Steelers for Brad Wing.
But out of respect for Weatherford, Coughlin did not expand on the reasons. Rather, Coughlin insisted on speaking about his four memorable seasons with Big Blue, which included winning Super Bowl XLVI.
"Let me start off by saying how difficult it was today to say goodbye to Steve Weatherford, who has been just an exceptional, exceptional human being, if I can put it that way, in terms of his -- not only what he has contributed to the New York Giants on the football field but what he has done in the community, what he represents, the enthusiasm, the passion [and] the way that he had a unique ability to touch people in all parts of life," Coughlin said Friday on a conference call with reporters. "Whether it be a sick child, attending a funeral, just speaking to a junior high school group, whatever it might be, Steve had a very unique ability to come in to a room and be the light of the room and get people excited and emotional or speak to them in terms of remarks which showed compassion.
Pressed further on the moves, Coughlin said, "Well, you know what, this is Steve's day and I am going to stay away from talking about Wing or anything else, including the decision. It is not something that is done lightly, there have been evaluations that have gone on from the first day of training camp and the results are what we decided needed to be done at this time, but I am not going down that road today. I am thinking only of Steve Weatherford and what he has contributed here as a Giant."
Now the decisions won't get any easier or less frequent for Coughlin and company.
Tomorrow, NFL clubs must reduce their rosters to a maximum of 53 players by 4 p.m. ET. The Giants had previously met the 75-man limit on Tuesday by making a series of 14 roster moves. A practice squad of 10 players can be established starting Sunday.
"It is not an easy thing," Coughlin said. "It is a most difficult thing. It is emotional in many ways, but every player that comes into the league, every coach understands that this is part of it, and even though it is by far one of the least popular things that has to happen, it still, nevertheless, has to be done, and we would like to think that we choose to do it with dignity."
Meanwhile, Coughlin had no update on wide receiver Victor Cruz, whose comeback from a season-ending knee injury has been delayed by a calf issue. He did not play in any of the four preseason games.
Also on the injury front: wide receiver Rueben Randle said he is getting back to his "normal self" in dealing with knee tendinitis this summer; center Brett Jones suffered an MCL sprain in his knee against the Patriots; and wide receiver Corey Washington (shoulder) and cornerback Trevin Wade (back) are doing "OK" now after both were late scratches for the finale in Foxborough.
With the 12-9 victory over the Patriots, the Giants finished 2-2 in the preseason after going 5-0 in 2014, the additional contest being the annual Hall of Fame Game following Michael Strahan's enshrinement.
The players are back on Monday for the first practice with the trimmed roster. Then it's all systems go to the season opener in primetime against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. 13.
"Well, we're going to start the season, so we better be ready," Coughlin said. "There are certainly many, many areas where we need to improve, and I think we will improve. I thought that there was— for the guys that played in the game last night— I thought they played hard and they competed well, so we certainly can learn something and take something from this. I wasn't particularly pleased with the execution on offense for most of the night, and I think that an awful lot of that has to improve.
"I think we have to zoom in on a particular team and see if we can't clean up our issues in terms of execution and finishing the play and doing the things necessary to be successful. I know everybody probably wants to talk about the green zone, but to me, it's more than that. There are definite areas everywhere in our game that can be improved upon, but make no doubt about it— the season is underway and we're going to have to get there in a hurry."
Gameday Photo Timeline from Giants vs. Patriots Week 4 Preseason matchup