EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – We've learned two prominent characteristics about Ereck Flowers in his brief tenure with the Giants. He is a young man of few words. And he has a steely determination to stay on the football field.
Flowers, the Giants' first-round draft choice this year and left tackle, missed the Week 3 home game against Washington with an ankle injury. The injury has never fully healed, but Flowers has started every game since his one-night absence. He left each of the last two games – against the Jets and Miami Dolphins – after aggravating his sore ankle. Flowers is listed as questionable for the Giants' critical game Sunday against the 13-0 Carolina Panthers.
To him, the designation is an inaccurate portrayal of his intended participation.
"I'm playing," Flowers said today. Asked if would be equally adamant if the Giants weren't in a must-win situation, he said, "Yeah." He later added, "I'm good, I'm ready to play."
Coach Tom Coughlin has quickly come to admire Flowers' toughness. In an interview this week, Coughlin said of Flowers, "He's had injuries that have taken guys three weeks and he practices the next day. He is a tough, tough kid."
Questioned today about Flowers, Coughlin said, "If you ask him how he feels, (he'll say), 'Good, good,'" said Coughlin, who added Flowers will play, "barring anything unforeseen."
Flowers has a history of not letting injuries sidetrack him. In 2014, his final season at the University of Miami, he tore the meniscus in his left knee against Virginia Tech on Oct. 23. He underwent surgery four days later, and it was thought he might sit out several weeks. But Flowers missed only one game, and returned to action against North Carolina on Nov. 1.
Is Flowers surprised at the determination and intestinal fortitude he's demonstrated in his rookie season?
"I don't know," he said. "I'm fine, I'm ready to go, so that's what I'm going to do."
Asked the source of his desire, Flowers said, "Just wanting to play."
On Sunday, Flowers will likely line up most often against defensive end Jared Allen in one of the game's most intriguing matchups. Flowers will be playing in his 13th NFL game, Allen in his 185th. The 12-year pro has 136.0 career regular-season sacks, which place him first among active players and ninth on the league's career list.
"He's a great player, so it's always good to go against people like him who will get you better," Flowers said. "You want to go against the best, so it's a good matchup."
• Dwayne Harris, the Giants' wide receiver/return specialist, is also listed as questionable, with a shoulder injury. He has not spoken publicly about his injury, which he apparently suffered Monday night, in the victory in Miami.
"It was sore after the game, really didn't say a whole lot about it," Coughlin said.
Like Flowers, Harris has also put his toughness on display this season. On Nov. 1 in New Orleans, he twice left the field with injuries, but returned to catch two touchdown passes.
"He's a tough guy," Coughlin said of Harris.
• The Giants believe they must win their final three games to make the playoffs.
"I always look at it that way," he said. "One game at a time, but we're in a position where you have to rely on yourself. The only way you can do that is to go out and play your best."
"Odell (Beckham Jr.) has been saying, everybody has been saying, that all these games are playoff games for us," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "We're not at the point where we can control our own destiny, so each game is very vital to the goal that we want to achieve."
• Coughlin is hopeful newly-signed defensive tackle Barry Cofield can help give the Giants an interior pass rush against the Panthers.
"He's come in and it's very new to him," Coughlin said. "It's different, terminology is different. There's a lot, he's been away from it a while. Do I expect him to give push up the middle? Yes. Do I expect that he (gives us a pass rush)? I hope so."
• The Giants today declared three players out of Sunday's game: linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring/foot), defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee) and defensive end George Selvie (concussion).
Kennard will miss his third game in a row, and fifth this season. Kuhn, who missed three early-season games with a knee injury, will sit out for the first time since the Oct. 4 victory in Buffalo. Selvie will miss his fourth game of the season, and second due to injury.
In addition to Flowers and Harris, linebacker J.T. Thomas is questionable with an ankle injury.