In his last training camp news conference in Albany, Tom Coughlin was asked about Marvin Austin's back injury and said, "I'm praying that when the phone call comes, it's a good one."
Coughlin apparently got a call, but it's still uncertain how good or bad the news was. During the open locker room period late this morning, Austin downplayed the severity of the injury. Four hours later, Coughlin sounded much more concerned in his post-practice meeting with reporters.
"It was just a little backache," Austin said. "I don't think it's going to be something that lags on and on. That's why we wanted to get everything right now and make sure you do all the proper precautions so it won't be something that goes on for a long period of time."
Asked if it was a muscle spasm, Austin said, "Something like that. They just wanted to look in there and see that I'll be able to go out and perform."
Austin did not practice today. Coughlin declared him out of the Giants' Saturday night preseason game vs. the Jets and said he didn't know if the second-year lineman would miss the remaining three games this month.
"They're doing more tests," said Coughlin, who declined to identify Austin's specific injury.
"You'd have to be a clinical something or other. He said he felt pretty good today. A lot of the early symptoms were no longer there, but they're going to do another set of tests on him and we're hoping that within a reasonable amount of time he can come back and play."
But when that will be remains a mystery.
"They haven't told me exactly what the plan is," Austin said. "They going to ask me how I feel each day and assess it. Just taking it day by day."
Austin played in last week's preseason opener in Jacksonville, but missed the final training camp practice Tuesday because of back issues. His absence was one of several the Giants have endured at defensive tackle, including Chris Canty (on the physically unable to perform list) and Shaun Rogers (blood clot in his leg) and Martin Parker (who was waived/injured with a herniated disk in his back). The Giants this week have signed defensive tackles Carlton Powell, Oren Wilson and Bobby Skinner.
Austin was hopeful his injury was not serious, but needed to have his hunch medically verified.
"Coach is concerned if you have anything to do with your back," Austin said. "It's one of the most important parts of your body, so I was concerned. I know how I was feeling and it wasn't too weird. It wasn't something that I thought was going to (keep me) out of football."