Just six days before they host the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants today reached the 53-man regular-season roster limit and the lists of the players let go and those remaining included the usual assortment of minor surprises.
Terrell Thomas, the fifth-year cornerback, and Shaun Rogers, the 12-year veteran defensive tackle, were placed on injured reserve. D.J. Ware and Greg Jones were let go. Those still on the roster include Adewale Ojomo, Andre Brown, Markus Kuhn and Stevie Brown.
The Giants had to make 22 moves to get down to 53. In addition to placing Terrell Thomas and Rogers on IR, here's what they did:
*Cornerback Bruce Johnson was waived/injured.
*Besides Ware's, the contracts of four other veterans were terminated: cornerback Dante Hughes, defensive tackle Marcus Thomas, wide receiver Isaiah Stanback and offensive lineman Chris White.
*Thirteen players were waived: Jones, wide receivers David Douglas and Dan DePalma; defensive ends Craig Marshall and Matt Broha; defensive tackle Dwayne Hendricks; linebacker Jake Muasau; tight end Larry Donnell; offensive linemen Matt McCants, Selvish Capers and Stephen Goodin; quarterback Ryan Perrilloux; and defensive back Laron Scott.
*Safety Tyler Sash has begun serving his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Sash can rejoin the team on Oct. 1.
"It's always difficult to release players that have been here and have really worked hard and have earned our respect and our admiration," coach Tom Coughlin said. "Those are guys like Dwayne Hendricks, who I have great respect for, and DePalma, who has worked hard for us for a couple of years and has done a good job. Isaiah Stanback is another guy who has done an outstanding job here and worked hard and really gained our respect."
"Greg Jones was a very difficult decision to make," Coughlin said. "Danny Ware was here for a while and any time you have those relationships with people, it's tough to see them go. Fortunately, these are men and they understand that decisions have to be made."
The transactions leave the Giants with the following 53-man roster as they begin preparations for their nationally-televised season-opener Wednesday against Dallas.
QB (2): Eli Manning, David Carr
RB (4): Ahmad Bradshaw, David Wilson, Da'Rel Scott, Andre Brown
FB (1): Henry Hynoski
WR (6): Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden, Rueben Randle, Jerrell Jernigan
TE (3): Bear Pascoe, Martellus Bennett, Adrien Robinson
OL (9): David Diehl, Chris Snee, David Baas, Kevin Boothe, Will Beatty, Sean Locklear, Jim Cordle, Mitch Petrus, James Brewer
DE (5): Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Adrian Tracy, Adewale Ojomo
DT (4): Linval Joseph, Rocky Bernard, Markus Kuhn, Marvin Austin
LB (7): Mathias Kiwanuka, Chase Blackburn, Michael Boley, Keith Rivers, Spencer Paysinger, Mark Herzlich, Jacquian Williams
CB (5): Corey Webster, Prince Amukamara, Jayron Hosley, Michael Coe, Justin Tryon
S (4): Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips, Will Hill, Stevie Brown
K: Lawrence Tynes
P: Steve Weatherford
S: Zak DeOssie
The current makeup of the team includes 16 players (30.2 percent) who were not on the 53-man roster when the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5. The list includes five 2012 draft choices (Wilson, Randle, Hosley, Robinson and Kuhn); four veteran free agents (Bennett, Rivers, Locklear and Stevie Brown); Andre Brown (a 2009 Giants draft choice) and Tracy (a 2010 selection) who were on the practice squad for the entire 2011 season; Austin, who spent last season on injured reserve; Hill, a first-year free agent, and Ojomo, a rookie free agent; and Tryon and Coe, cornerbacks who played for the Giants last year before going on injured reserve.
"The roster turnover is always about one-third in my mind," Coughlin said. "I don't think the guys that have been here are turnover guys. They were on the team and they were injured. They have experience with us and I think that's the way to look at it."
Ojomo arrived at camp as a relative unknown – he started only 14 games at the University of Miami – but was relentless in his play and led the Giants with 4.0 sacks in the preseason.
"There is a perfect example of a young man for whom preparation meant opportunity and he succeeded," Coughlin said. "He worked and he worked and he worked and he enjoyed playing. He got confident. He sized up the opponent and he made timely, timely plays throughout the entire preseason. He played on special teams. He earned the opportunity to have his spot."
The Giants can still reshape their roster prior to the opener. But that might be less likely this year than in other seasons, because they play on Wednesday, four days before most teams begin their season.
Some of the players who were waived will be asked to join the eight-man practice squad, which the Giants can begin constructing at noon tomorrow.
Terrell Thomas and Rogers had held out hope that they would avoid injured reserve and be able to play this season.
Thomas spent the entire 2011 on I.R. after tearing his right ACL in a preseason game vs. Chicago on Aug. 22. He entered training camp last month looking to regain his starting right cornerback job but aggravated the repaired knee early in camp. Thomas said he expected to play this year, but the Giants believe that is not possible and placed him on injured reserve.
Rogers was diagnosed with a blood clot after the preseason opener in Jacksonville three weeks ago. Coughlin initially said Rogers would miss the entire season, then expressed a glimmer of hope he might get back on the field. That hope ended today.
Ware was the longest-tenured player who was released. He had been with the team since 2007 and earned two Super Bowl rings. But the Giants chose to keep Scott and Andre Brown behind Bradshaw and Wilson.
"There was good competition at that running back spot," Coughlin said. "Andre Brown and Da'Rel Scott have both earned the right and they've both proven that they can be special teams contributors as well, which is what we were looking for."
Ware was signed by the Giants off the Jets' practice squad on Dec. 4, 2007. In five seasons he played in 45 regular-season games with one start and played in four postseason games with one start. Ware's regular-season totals included 81 rushing attempts for 324 yards (4.0-yard avg.) and one touchdown, 37 receptions for 252 yards and 25 kickoff returns for 486 yards (19.4-yard avg.). Ware has also scored twice on 2-point conversions. In the postseason, Ware had four rushing attempts for 10 yards and two receptions for 21 yards.
In 2011, Ware played in all 16 regular-season games for the first time with one start and played in all four postseason games with one start. He had career-high totals of 46 rushing attempts for 163 yards – both third on the team – with a long run of 17 yards, and 27 catches for 170 yards with a long reception of 22 yards.
Jones was a sixth-round draft choice in 2011, when he played in every game as a rookie, with five starts. He finished the regular season with 25 defensive tackles (22 solo) and six special teams tackles (four solo). In the postseason, he led the Giants with seven special teams tackles (six solo). Jones was the only Giants rookie to start the season opener at Washington on Sept. 11. He had four solo tackles, including one on the game's first play. Jones was the first Giants rookie linebacker to start on opening day since Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor in 1981, the first defensive rookie to start an opener since tackle Barry Cofield in 2006 and the first rookie to start since tight end Michael Matthews in 2007. He also started the following week vs. St. Louis but his playing time diminished as the season wore on.
"There were a lot of numbers issues (at different positions) and you can't keep everybody," Coughlin said. "You don't like to let a guy go that has played and contributed and done the things that Greg has done. However, the unfortunate part about it is you only have so many spots."
Also waived was this year's sixth-round draft choice, McCants, the tackle from Alabama-Birmingham. The team's fourth-round selection, offensive lineman Brandon Mosley, was placed on injured reserve earlier this week with an ankle injury.
Stanback was signed on Nov. 30, 2011 to the Giants' practice squad and spent the rest of the regular season and the postseason there. He caught three passes for 26 yards in the preseason and made the highlight play of the summer when he reached high to make a one-handed catch of a David Carr pass for a five-yard touchdown in Jacksonville.
Marcus Thomas, who played the previous five seasons for the Denver Broncos, was signed on August 16 after the Giants suffered a spate of injuries at defensive tackle. He recovered a fumble by New England's Brian Hoyer Wednesday night to set up Lawrence Tynes' game-winning field goal in the Giants' 6-3 victory.
Hughes is a six-year veteran who was signed on May 24. He previously played for Indianapolis and San Diego.
White was in training camp with the Giants in 2011. He was let go in the final cutdown last year and re-signed on Feb. 13. White has previously played for Green Bay, Houston and Seattle.
Johnson, who hurt his shoulder last week and missed the preseason finale, was waived/injured. He missed the entire 2011 season after tearing his Achilles tendon in training camp. In 2010, Johnson was placed on I.R. after six games when he injured his knee.
Hendricks was on the Giants' practice squad each of the last three seasons. In 2011, he was signed to the active roster on Oct. 15 and played in one game, at New England on Nov. 6.
Perrilloux was in training camp with the Giants in 2011. He was waived and re-signed to the practice squad 13 times during the regular season and postseason. This preseason, he completed eight of nine passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
Marshall was with the Giants in training camp last year and did two short stints on their practice squad in November. He had 2.5 sacks in the just-concluded preseason.
Broha, a rookie free agent from Louisiana Tech, was second on the team with 3.5 sacks in the preseason.
Muasau was a rookie free agent from Georgia State. He was signed after impressing the coaches while attending the rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. Muasau finished the preseason with three tackles after missing the opener with a hamstring injury.
Douglas was a free agent from Arizona who impressed early in training camp. But he was slowed by a quad injury that kept him out of the preseason opener. Douglas finished the preseason with one 23-yard reception and four punt returns for just two yards.
DePalma spent the entire 2011 season on the Giants' practice squad and was signed to the active roster on Feb. 8. In the preseason, he caught three passes for 46 yards.
Donnell was a free agent from Grambling. He did not have a reception in the preseason.
Capers was signed to the Giants' practice squad on Sept. 5, 2011 and was waived and re-signed to the squad nine times in the regular season and postseason.
Goodin was a rookie free agent from Nebraska-Kearney.
Scott was signed on Aug 16, soon after his release by the New Orleans Saints