EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.** – Moments after greeting reporters on his conference call today, Tom Coughlin began a recitation of the Giants' offense's shortcomings in their preseason-opening loss last night in Cincinnati.
The Giants fell into an early hole, their offense never got untracked, andBut the more acute issues appear to lie on the other side of the ball, specifically the secondary. That group was already beset with manpower deficiencies and suffered several more injuries in the 23-10 defeat.
The most serious injury was suffered by rookie safety Mykkele Thompson, who tore his Achilles tendon covering a punt early in the second quarter. The fifth-round draft choice will miss the 2015 season.
"I really feel bad for the young man," Coughlin said.
An MRI today revealed that the Giants' other rookie safety, Landon Collins, sprained his medial collateral ligament early in the game. Asked how long Collins would be sidelined, Coughlin said, "I would say longer than a week."
The Giants' offseason and training camp have included an ongoing search to find impact safeties. The three players who started at the position last year are no longer with the team (Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, Quintin Demps). Second-year pro Nat Berhe was expected to contend for a starting job, but he has been sidelined for long stretches with a calf injury.
Collins (taken with the first choice in the second round after the Giants traded up) and Thompson were positioned to bolster the back of the defense. Now they're sidelined.
"Certainly, there's concern," Coughlin said.
That leaves converted cornerback Bennett Jackson, who has been working at nickel corner, Cooper Taylor, who missed all of last season, veteran Jeromy Miles and rookie free agents Justin Currie and Justin Halley.
"The level of concern has been there since day one, because of the nature of where we are," Coughlin said. "Even going back to Nat Berhe being unable to come in here and practice, one of the few remaining safeties from our roster of a year ago. We obviously drafted two young players that we know were going to be able to help. Now we've lost one of those guys, the other issue is how quickly Landon can come back so he doesn't miss out on anything, because he definitely needed last night. To be honest with you, he needed it. In order to be able to be in position, I think to where he's seen a great deal of what takes place in the National Football League, and has been in games, and has had a chance to prepare and play, he needed last night. He didn't get much last night."
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Coughlin is hopeful Berhe will return to the field, perhaps this week.
"Whenever we do get the green light to bring him back, we will do so," Coughlin said. "And I think until proven, we will have to keep our fingers crossed that he can spend some consistent time on the field and get himself in position to where he can play."
Regarding Jackson, Coughlin said, "we were able to bring him down from safety to play the nickel position and he also plays the safety position in that first and second down. So hopefully we can continue to do that. Certainly, he's going to have to play more safety now."
Miles played in Baltimore last season under Steve Spagnuolo, who was then the Ravens' secondary coach and is now the Giants' defensive coordinator.
"Miles knows the defense," Coughlin said. "There's a guy we were fortunate that we have here, to sign now, because of all that. Cooper is learning. He's learning, he's come in and after having had all that time off, so he's started to come back and hopefully he'll keep growing and learning and so on and so forth. Those are the guys that we have and we will work hard to get those guys ready to play."
The situation is not much better at cornerback. Starter Prince Amukamara has been sidelined with a groin injury. Chykie Brown has a knee injury and, like Berhe, did not make the four-night trip to Cincinnati. Coughlin said Brown likely won't return this week.
Last night, Trumaine McBride left the game with a hamstring injury, and Jayron Hosley, who started for Amukamara, was examined for head and neck issues. Coughlin did not have an update on his status today.
"I'm hoping that this is not a long term deal," Coughlin said of Hosley. "See if he can get back in there, because he needs the play time and he showed that he certainly can get himself in position and do some of the things we have to do at the corner spot. Didn't have a bad night at all prior to getting the injury and the injury came flying to the line of scrimmage and made a tackle in which he got his head banged around a little bit. I don't have anything for you yet from today, but we're hoping that Hosley can be cleared to go here real quick."
And if he can't, it will be another secondary issue for Coughlin and his staff to deal with.
"You can certainly count as well as I can and you can never have enough of those guys anyways," Coughlin said. "If Prince comes back and we get even short-term notice on when some of these other guys will be back, we probably do have enough but otherwise, we'll be down in numbers."
The big question is: for how long?
- Wide receiver Rueben Randle, who missed one joint practice with Cincinnati last week and left another early, is still bothered by knee soreness. He played just a few snaps in the game.
"He had struggled when we first got to the practices," Coughlin said. "His tendonitis, his patellar tendonitis had bothered him after a couple days off of his feet. He thought he could play, he did not warmup well, we probably should have shut him down right away, but he had played a few snaps. He definitely was not himself and he was in pain."
- Coughlin commented on first-round draft choice Ereck Flowers before anyone could ask. The rookie left tackle played 24 snaps with the rest of the starting line.
"Everybody wants to know how Flowers played," Coughlin said. "I thought he played okay. I just think as a group we weren't able to execute together in any capacity that allowed us to have total success with a play."