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Coe & Ross ready for Primetime

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One fact about injuries remains immutable and that is to dwell on them removes the focus from the task at hand for players, coaches and teams.

So when the Giants practiced today for the first time since their preseason victory over the Chicago Bears, little time was spent discussing the three players who suffered season-ending injuries, cornerbacks Terrell Thomas and Brian Witherspoon (who tore knee ligaments) and rookie defensive tackle Marvin Austin (torn pectoral muscle). All three players will undergo surgery.

"It's football," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "Obviously, it's unfortunate that it had to happen, especially to those guys. But like I always say, guys have to step up and it gives guys opportunity. That's about all you have to say about it."

The players injured Monday night join the defensive players who were previously sidelined by injuries or surgery, including Osi Umenyiora, Prince Amukamara and Bruce Johnson.

"That just means other guys have to step up," middle linebacker Jonathan Goff said. "That's an opportunity for some of the younger guys who haven't seen some of those reps to work with the first and second groups and really make an impression."

The offense hasn't been hit as hard – knock on wood – but the players on that side of the ball are taking the same full-speed-ahead approach as they prepare for their nest preseason game, Saturday night against the Jets in MetLife Stadium.

"It can't concern you," quarterback Eli Manning said of the injuries. "As an offensive player or whatever position you're playing, all you can worry about is going out there and doing your job and try to perform to the best of your ability. Guys have to fill in and they have to do their job. You can't worry about somebody else or trying to do somebody else's job. It's not going to help anything. All you can do is concern yourself with preparing to the best of your ability and going out there and playing hard."

To outsiders, it might seem cold to move on with little sentiment toward those left behind. But the regular season opener is only 18 days away and the Giants must pour all their energy into becoming the very best they can be to face the Washington Redskins. Dwelling on injuries detracts from that effort.

 "It really doesn't do us any good to ask questions like why," Tuck said. "It is not going to bring them back and it is not going to help us deal with the hole that those people being absent present. We are not going to pity ourselves because those teams we are playing this year definitely aren't. You have to move forward. Does it hurt? Absolutely, but every team has to go through this and every team is going to have injuries. Every team is going to have people go down but the teams that bounce back are the teams you see in the playoffs and competing for a championship every year."

"Stuff like that happens," Goff said. "That's going to bring us closer together. We wish those guys well and hope they have a speedy, healthy recovery and hope they hit the ground running for us. It puts some other guys in a position where they're going to need to step up and produce."

Two of those players are Aaron Ross and Michael Coe. Ross will take over for Thomas as the starting right cornerback. He is well known to Giants fans, having been the team's first-round draft choice in 2007 and a 15-game starter the following season. Ross was a regular contributor last year in what was largely a reserve role.

Coe moves up to No. 3 on the cornerback depth chart as something of a mystery man. After stints with the Indianapolis Colts (six games in 2007) and Jacksonville Jaguars (seven total games in 2009 and 2010), he joined the Giants' practice squad last Sept. 29 and the active roster on Nov. 27. Coe played four games for the Giants. Most of his playing time was on special teams, though he did see action as the nickel corner in the season finale at Washington.

Now, until further notice, he is a key member of the defense.

"I haven't really thought about it like that," Coe said. "My mindset always has been to get prepared to play, try to get comfortable in doing everything and when you get the opportunity, you have to be ready. Being a little bit of an older guy, I try to absorb as much as I can. I'm a lot more comfortable in this defense, because it's similar to what I did in college.

"I will do my best and everything will work out the way it's going to work out.  I don't get involved with looking at the depth chart."

Coe is 27, 6-0 and 184 pounds.  He was a first-team All-State selection at Cordova High School in Memphis, where he played wide receiver and defensive back. Coe played three college seasons at Arkansas before transferring to Alabama State, where his father, Charles, was the head coach. The Colts selected him on the fifth round of the 2007 draft. Coe played in six games as a rookie before spending the 2008 season in injured reserve after undergoing knee surgery. He was waived by the Colts at the end of training camp in 2009 and spent 10 weeks on the Giants' practice squad before joining the Jaguars. When Jacksonville released Coe he rejoined the Giants.

Now he thinks he's found a home in the Giants secondary.

"We play a lot of man-to-man, which is what I played at Arkansas," Coe said. "We do a lot of pressing. When I went to Alabama State for my last year we did the same thing. Me being a taller, faster corner, those are the things I do well and feel comfortable doing.

"I'm more comfortable with the scheme, what the coaches expect out of me and what coach (Perry) Fewell expects out of the defense.  It helped a lot getting here last year and getting my feet wet as far as how the defense is played. You can have the same call in a different defense and you're supposed to play it a different way. The depth is different or the width is different or maybe they want you to match it quicker or play it slower. Now I feel I'm getting comfortable with it, especially playing these last few games. Last year when Corey (Webster) went down I was basically playing nickel against the Redskins. Now getting these preseason games under my belt, I feel a lot more comfortable."

That's good news for the Giants, who need Coe to play well in their injury-depleted secondary.


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