EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Landon Collins and Curtis Riley were the Giants’ starting safeties for each of the first 12 games this season, but they will be unable to continue their partnership in game No. 13 on Sunday in Washington.
Collins, who is leading the team in tackles for the fourth consecutive season, will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in his shoulder. The two-time Pro Bowler suffered the injury in the overtime victory against Chicago three days ago.
“It (stinks) not having my guy next to me, but it’s a next-man-up league, so that’s what we got to do,” Riley said. “It’s going to feel a little funny, but that’s my guy, so I got to do it. We got to do it.”
Coach Pat Shurmur didn’t specify who will start at strong safety for Collins. But rookie free agent Sean Chandler and veteran Michael Thomas, who have each played in every game, will see increased playing time. Thomas started two games as an extra defensive back.
“We’re going to do it with the guys that have been playing,” Shurmur said. “Chandler will be in there, we still have the guys that have been playing, and we’ll just try to work the next man up.”
“(Chandler) has been doing great,” Riley said. “He’s improved, which is a thing you got to do in this league. He’s been doing a great job of it. I’m happy to see him come out there and see what he’s got.”
Collins is the first Giants starter to go on injured reserve since center Jon Halapio suffered ankle and leg fractures in Dallas in Week 2.
The Giants are unaccustomed to playing without Collins. Since his arrival as a second-round draft choice in 2015, Collins has started 60 of the team’s 61 regular-season and postseason games. He missed the 2017 season finale after fracturing his forearm the previous week in Arizona.
Collins had team-high totals of 108, 125 and 99 tackles in his first three years. He was a selected a first-team All-Pro in 2016 and to the Pro Bowl in 2016 and 2017. Collins was thrice selected NFC Defensive Player of Week, and was the conference’s Player of the Month for November 2016.
This season, his 96 tackles (67 solo) are 18 more than anyone else on the team (linebacker Alec Ogletree is second). Collins also has four passes defensed and a forced fumble.
“Landon displays what he is,” Shurmur said. “He’s a very tough guy, very good tackler, he’s made a lot of plays for us, especially close to the line of scrimmage. I’ve said it numerous times, in a sport where toughness is required, he’s got a lot of it. So that’s what I appreciate about him.”
Collins and Ogletree are the Giants’ defensive captains, another reason the standout safety will be difficult to replace.
“Obviously we’re going to miss him, but it’s an opportunity for young guys to step up, our new guys to step up,” Thomas said. “You don’t just replace a guy like LC, two-time Pro Bowl player, All-Pro safety. You don’t just replace that so that’s my brother, we’re going to ride for him.
“The best ability in football is your availability, but the fact that he’s as humble as he is with all the success he has so young in his career, he’s a great teammate, he understands football, he knows where to be on his run fits and stuff are great. He helps other guys, he communicates well, so that’s what I’m really impressed with about him.”
Collins was hurt in the second half on Sunday, and missed 11 snaps – more than twice as many as he sat out in the first 11 games combined – when he went the training room to be examined. But he returned to the game and afterward, was asked about the difficulty of playing at a high level with an injury.
“It depends on what the injury is,” Collins said. “A shoulder injury calls for tackling. So it’s more of tackling and getting guys down, trying to push through and run. Last year, I had an ankle injury, so it’s more of not twisting it or planting the wrong way. It has its ups and downs. It depends on how you feel during the game or after.”
Collins was hopeful he would continue to play, but further tests revealed the partial labrum tear. Now the 4-8 Giants, who want to finish the season with a .500 record, must play the final four games without one of their most productive players.
*Two rookie linebackers did not practice today, Lorenzo Carter (hip) and Tae Davis (ankle).
Three players were limited: tight end Evan Engram (hamstring), linebacker B.J. Goodson (neck) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (rib).
*Washington, which lost Monday night in Philadelphia and has been ravaged by injuries, had seven players sit out practice: linebacker Ryan Anderson (hamstring), offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom (knee/ankle), defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis (shin), quarterback Colt McCoy (fibula), safety Montae Nicholson (illness), running back Adrian Peterson (shoulder) and center
Chase Roullier (knee). Four other players were limited.
*Eli Manning provided the laugh of the day when asked his opinion of Saquon Barkley’s hurdle over Chicago defensive back Adrian Amos, Jr. on Sunday.
“There’s only a few of us that can do that,” Manning said. “I’m just waiting for my opportunity. It hasn’t arrived yet, but it’s out there.”