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Giants talk strategy for depleted cornerback unit

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** If this keeps up, Tom Coughlin is going to have to ask for volunteers to play cornerback.

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Zack Bowman, who was slated to join the starting lineup this week in Seattle, missed practice today because he was at the hospital with abdominal pain. He was expected to step in for right cornerback Prince Amukamara, who was placed on injured reserve yesterday with a torn biceps suffered Monday night vs. the Colts. Amukamara is the third corner to suffer a season-ending injury, joining Walter Thurmond (pectoral) and Trumaine McBride (thumb).

"It's rare, especially the way it's gone about," Coughlin said of the cornerback injuries. "It's really not been the hamstring, groin issues or anything like that. We're making progress along those lines, but this is a whole different ball game."

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Bowman's status was not immediately clear. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said if Bowman can't play, Jayron Hosley would start in the base defense and move inside in the nickel, with Chandler Fenner taking over on the outside. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is playing through back and hamstring injuries, would be in his customary spot at left corner. The backups would be Mike Harris (signed last week) and Chykie Brown (who was awarded to the team off waivers from Baltimore yesterday).

Rodgers-Cromartie practiced on a limited basis today.

"I thought he moved around pretty good today," Coughlin said. "I was a little concerned being on turf and so on, but I thought he moved pretty good."

But with all the injuries and inexperience in the Giants' system, Fewell will have to adjust his game plan for the defending champion Seahawks.

"We have to simplify our package," Fewell said. "Obviously, when you have new faces, you can't, you will not, do as much as you have done in the past, and you have to quickly find out what the strengths of the new faces are, and how much terminology they can digest in a short amount of time."

"I don't know if they can actually develop a lot of chemistry. But what we are going to have to do is develop some know-how of what concepts we are trying to do and try to be in the positions that we should be in, and our veterans have to help the guys that are just coming in with the call, repeat the call to them so we can all be on the same page. I don't know if you can develop the chemistry like, 'Hey, if I am up, you're back.' They have to talk to each other a lot more instead of just looking at the body language like they would with the person they would be been playing with in the past."

But verbally communicating is difficult in CenturyLink Field, which is one of the NFL's loudest venues.

"They have to develop some hand signals," Fewell said. "When you say chemistry, those are the little things that go into it. They have to get in the meeting at 7:30 tomorrow morning and they have to work these things out. They have very little time for chemistry. It has to have a system to develop their communication."

Fenner joined the team on Aug. 1, began the regular season on the practice squad, made his NFL debut against Atlanta on Oct. 5, was waived the following day, re-joined the practice squad and was again added to the active roster on Oct. 14, when McBride went on I.R.

"It's nice to have at least one week of preparation," Fenner said. "You get that feel for each other and you know where that guy is going to be as the week continues.

"The best thing you can do is be prepared," Harris said. "You don't want to be going out there not knowing what you're doing and get caught off guard. Being prepared is the best thing. That's all you can do. I'm sure I will be if my number's called."

No matter how many players are injured, the NFL isn't calling a timeout so they can heal up.

"We've got to go," Coughlin said. "They are guys that, obviously, have been evaluated and they were next up. They're here and we've got to get them ready to go."

"You have to go out there and play ball," safety and defensive captain Antrel Rolle said. "We can't hang our heads or dwell on the fact that we have a lot of injuries, especially in the secondary. You have to go out there and play ball. It is the next guy up and, unfortunately, we are going to miss those guys that are not with us. (In) this game, there are injuries all over the NFL. Teams find a way to win. That is what the good ones do."

The Giants did have some good news on the injury front.

Rookie left guard Weston Richburg practiced, three days after he was carted off the field in the Giants' loss to Indianapolis with an ankle injury. Richburg was officially limited, but is on track to start Sunday in Seattle.

"I expect him to go," Coughlin said. "He was really probably 50 percent today and I'm hoping to go inside and find out that he can do more tomorrow."

Richburg said he wishes he had left the field under his own power.

"I probably shouldn't have gotten carted off," he said. "I should have walked off. My dad always told me, 'If you're not dead, get up and walk off.' That's what I should be doing from now on."

Because he was driven off the field, Richburg has received some good-natured ribbing from the other offensive linemen, including being called a "wimp."

"Well, I deserve it," Richburg said. "Fortunately, it wasn't a super serious deal. I tried to get out there today and I think I moved well. It's just a little sore, but I should be all right."

Running back Rashad Jennings practiced for the first time since spraining his knee against Atlanta on Oct. 5. Coughlin was non-committal about his potential availability for the Seahawks.

"For the first time, he had a chance to work in practice and he took some scout squad reps," Coughlin said. "He did pretty well. Again, we'll find out what that's like inside."

"It's getting better every single day," Jennings said. "So we are at that point where it's going to be a couple days and we'll have to make that decision."

Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf) and punter Steve Weatherford (ankle/back) were also limited. Jenkins said he is progressing, but is unsure if he will be ready to play Sunday.

"It's getting there," Jenkins said. "We'll keep evaluating it and monitoring it. Obviously, you go out there, you practice, you rep it, you have to come back, go home and sleep on it, come in the next day, see how it feels, see if it healed up."

  • Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka and guard Adam Snyder missed practice with knee injuries. Coughlin said Kiwanuka will work tomorrow.
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