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Giants passing game thriving despite injured receivers

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Thirteen different players have caught a pass from Eli Manning so far this season.


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That list even includes rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers, who corralled a tipped ball late in Week 6 against the Eagles. But the key name missing is Victor Cruz.

There is still no timetable for his return, coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. The sixth-year wide receiver continues to deal with a calf issue and has not played in a game since suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 6 of the 2014 season. Meanwhile, fellow receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle have dealt with hamstrings.

Nonetheless, Manning set a pace in the first eight games that could lead to a career-high number of touchdown passes (34) as well as a career-low interception total (eight).

"It's about the will," Randle said. "We know what we have inside. We've got the competitive nature inside each and every one of us on the offensive side of the ball, that we're going to go out there and give it our all, no matter what the situation may be. And that's kind of been key for us the last couple weeks. Everybody's been kind of dinged up and we haven't been at our full force. You've just got to continue to keep pushing through it, no matter what the situation is."

Beckham did not appear on the injury report to start the week of practice leading up to the team's meeting with the Buccaneers on Sunday. But Randle did. The third-year wide receiver was one of eight Giants who did not practice today.

"It's okay, it's a little sore still today," Randle said of the same hamstring that has nagged him for a few weeks. "Usually it gets a little better throughout the week, so just have to see how it goes." After Coughlin said they "feel like he'll move along," Randle reiterated his confidence in being ready for Sunday in Tampa Bay.

"I've been pushing it out for these last three weeks," he said. "So I don't see why not play this week." Meanwhile, Dwayne Harris, who was carted off with knee and ankle injuries last week and returned to the game to catch two touchdowns, is full-go for Week 9.

"It's the type of player he is and the type of players we have on this type of team," Randle said. "We're not going to let anything stop us."

The health of the wide receiver corps was just one of the many headlines coming out of the QDTC today. Here are three takeaways from the day.

SUNDAY NOT RULED OUT FOR JPP

In his second week back, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul continues to take on more in practice. That includes both defensive and scout-team reps as he comes back from serious hand injuries that he suffered in a July 4 fireworks accident.

"It feels great being out there," said Pierre-Paul, who added that he will continue to play on both sides of the defensive line. "I was out there last week, but it felt even better this week, actually getting into a rotation, knowing the plays and executing my plays." As for Sunday, nothing has been ruled out.

"We just have to assume that he will be able to play," Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said on a conference call with Giants reporters. "Of course, he's a great player. Each week if a guy is practicing at all and there's a chance of them playing, we have to prepare that way. As far as preparation, he's one of the best defensive players in the league when he's playing, so we'll have a plan for it and just do the best we can."

INJURY REPORT

For the Giants, Randle (hamstring), Cruz (calf), LB Jon Beason (ankle/knee), DB Craig Dahl (neck), TE Larry Donnell (neck), DE Owa Odighizuwa (hamstring), OL Geoff Schwartz (ankle) and LB J.T. Thomas III (ankle) did not practice. CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral), RB Orleans Darkwa (back) and LB Uani 'Unga (neck) were limited.

For the Buccaneers, WR Vincent Jackson (knee), G Logan Mankins (not injury related), DE Jacquies Smith (ankle) and S Major Wright (hamstring) did not practice. DE William Gholston (knee), DT Gerald McCoy (shoulder), DT Tony McDaniel (groin) and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) were limited.

DEFENSE LOOKS TO BOUNCE BACK

Despite recording two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, the Giants allowed 608 yards last week as the defense fell to No. 32 in the NFL. Coughlin said there won't be any "significant" changes on that side of the ball as the unit prepares to face No. 1 overall draft pick Jameis Winston and running back Doug Martin, who is fourth in the league in rushing yards.

"I think they will bounce back, I think they will," Coughlin said. "I think what exactly that means, obviously each opponent is a different opponent. I think that the frame of mind will be the right way. I think we'll bounce back."

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