Defense preparing for Vick

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On Sept. 18, a week before the first Giants-Eagles game of 2011, Michael Vick suffered a concussion at Atlanta, leading to questions whether the Philadelphia quarterback would be ready for the NFC East battle.

“My response is that if it is at all possible, Michael Vick will play,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said four days before the game.

Vick did play, throwing for 176 yards and running for 31 more in the Giants’ 29-16 victory in Lincoln Financial Field.

Giants-Eagles II will be played Sunday night in MetLife Stadium and once again, Vick is at the center of the intrigue leading up to the game. Vick suffered two broken ribs in last week’s loss to Arizona and did not practice today. Philadelphia Coach Andy Reid said Vick’s status is day-to-day. But once again, Coughlin expects Vick to line up against the Giants.

“I am not going to believe that Michael Vick won’t play until I see him not jog out there,” Coughlin said at his news conference today.

The Giants said the ongoing Vick mystery will not affect their preparation. The defensive players expect him to start. If he doesn’t, Vick could very well be replaced by Vince Young, another strong-armed quarterback who is not reluctant to run.

“We don’t worry about that,” safety Antrel Rolle said. “We haven’t seen much of Vince Young so we are going to prepare as if Vick is a starter and in my eyes he is going to be there come Sunday. It’s a really tough game up ahead. If he finished the game out last week with broken ribs, why not go play this week. That's the way I look at, so we are going to be prepared either way.”

Vick has thrown 11 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. But he has rushed for 535 yards and an 8.2-yard average and the Giants know he is dangerous on any play with the ball in his hands.

“Vick is great,” Rolle said. “He is an electrifying quarterback and he can do multiple things and we are going to prepare as if he is healthy and he is going to be the same Vick we face game in and game out.”

The Giants have injury issues of their own. Linebacker Michal Boley, who has called the defensive signals since Jonathan Goff suffered a season-ending knee injury in a Labor Day practice, left the Giants’ game in San Francisco with a hamstring injury and did not practice today. He is, of course, “day-to-day,” according to Coughlin.

Philadelphia has the NFL’s top-ranked rushing attack (171.6 yards a game) and LeSean McCoy is second in the league with 906 yards. Asked about the possibility of facing the Eagles without Boley, the Giants’ second-leading tackler and defensive leader, Coughlin said, ‘We would prefer to have Michael Boley, for sure.”

“It’s a tough loss,” Rolle said. “Michael Boley has been great for our defense. He has been a great team leader for us. But we've got to find a way to make a win at the end of the day. Like I said, it’s going to be an extreme loss, but the game still has to be played come Sunday.”

When he spoke to reporters at his locker, Boley reiterated that he is “day-to-day” and wouldn’t predict whether or not he might play.

“I don’t know yet - it’s still early in the week,” Boley said. “I have to come in and get some rehab and get a lot better. I’m not in a horrible amount of pain, but obviously enough to hold me out of practice today. We will see how it is tomorrow.”

If Boley is unable to go, rookies Greg Jones, Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger will likely get larger roles in the Philadelphia game.

“That’s the way the tree works for us,” Boley said. “When somebody goes down, the next person has to step up and be ready to go.”

Jones and Williams were sixth-round draft choices from Michigan State and South Florida, respectively, while Paysinger was signed as a free agent from Oregon. All three have played in every game this season. Jones has made four starts at middle linebacker and has 23 tackles (20 solo). Williams has the most playing time of the trio and has 29 tackles (24 solo), plus a team-high 11 special teams tackles. Paysinger stepped in last week for Boley, his first extesnvie defensive action, and had two tackles.

Coughlin was asked about Jones and Williams and said, “I think they both continue to develop and get better and I think you have trouble making any declarative statements about either one of them based on one game. A lot of it is new to them. We still have great faith in their improvement and we look forward to this week.”

*Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy returned to practice after he was reinstated following a four-week suspension for violation of the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Coughlin would not commit to Kennedy playing on Sunday.

“We really have a week to make a decision on this, so we’ll approach it that way,” he said.

Kennedy last played in the Giants’ game against Seattle on Oct. 9.

“I’ve been in the gym, working hard,” Kennedy said. “Rehabbing and doing everything I can to keep my mind occupied. … I was out of the loop in terms of being here, but the guys did a good job of keeping me in the loop, letting me know what’s going on.”

Coughlin wants to see what Kennedy’s condition is before putting him on the field.

“There is a difference between lifting weights, treadmill and running on the field and chasing Vick or (LeSean) McCoy," said Kennedy. "It’s a huge difference but when I left I was 305 and I came back about 301, so it’s not like I am out of shape or anything like that. But in terms of wind or stamina, the great thing about living in Denver is dealing with the altitude, so it was cool. They’re getting my feet back on the grass. They've got a system here without me, so I am letting them know, ‘Hey, I am here. Just get me rolling again.’”

In addition to Boley, running back Ahmad Bradshaw did not practice. Bradshaw, the Giants’ leading rusher, has missed the last two games with a broken bone in his foot suffered vs. Miami on Oct. 30. He continues to make progress, but not enough to return to the field.

Cornerback Aaron Ross was one of four players to practice on a limited basis. Ross suffered a quad contusion in San Francisco and did not play in the second half. He received treatment the last two days and tested the leg in practice. Also limited in practice were wide receiver Mario Manningham (knee), defensive end Osi Umenyiora (knee) and cornerback Prince Amukamara (foot). Wide receiver/return specialist Jerrel Jernigan (hip) practiced fully.

*The Giants signed defensive end Craig Marshall to their practice squad and terminated the contract of quarterback Ryan Perrilloux – for the fifth time this season.

*Sunday will be Military Appreciation Night, when the Giants salute U.S. Armed Forces before and during the game.  Fans are asked to arrive early for a special pregame concert at the Budweiser Stage at the East end of MetLife Stadium featuring a legendary New Jersey group, The Bobby Bandiera Band. The concert begins at 6: 30 p.m.

A ceremony honoring U.S. troops will be held prior to the game.

During the game, a series of on-field ceremonies and presentations will honor U.S. veterans and active members serving in the armed forces. Sunday night’s events are part of the National Football League’s new annual “Salute to Service” campaign that will occur each November.

The “Salute to Service” campaign is designed to unify and elevate the extensive military appreciation work of the NFL and its clubs. Throughout the month, teams will designate home games as special military appreciation games.  During these games, teams will display “Salute to Service” banners on their sidelines, in addition to hosting ceremonies to honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s troops.

Additionally, the Giants will honor the military in the following ways:

*They will recognize all military personnel in attendance.

*Active troops serving in different locations around the world will be shown on the stadium’s video boards.

*A 100-yard full-field American flag will be unfurled prior to the playing of the national anthem with the assistance of 150 servicemen and women—25 Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Wounded Warriors, respectively.

*The National Anthem will be performed by The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets and the Colors will be presented by the Joint Color Guard.

*At halftime, the U.S. Marines Corp Band will perform a special musical tribute to our country and armed forces.

Fans can find out more about the NFL’s commitment to the military and veterans by visiting NFL.com/salute. To learn more about the New York Giants initiatives, visit Giants.com.

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