*The Giants will place OL Justin Pugh on IR with a back injury: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Justin Pugh’s season officially ended today when the Giants announced they would be placing the fifth-year offensive lineman on injured reserve.
Pugh has missed the last four, and five of the previous six games, with a back injury. He was in Los Angeles yesterday to receive a second opinion on his diagnosis and treatment. Rest and rehabilitation were prescribed, and no surgery is necessary.
“We did it the right way,” said interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo said, whose team returns to action Sunday at home against the 11-2 Philadelphia Eagles. “(Senior vice president of medical services) Ronnie (Barnes) and his staff went out, checked it, made sure. So now at least we know.
“I would think any guy that’s in that situation would be a little bit bummed out. You’d have to ask him specifically, but he’s a football player, likes playing the game and I’m sure he’s disappointed he’s not going to play the rest of the season.”
The Giants’ first-round draft choice in 2013, Pugh started all eight games in which he played this season, three at left guard and five at right tackle. He left the game against Seattle on Oct. 22 after hurting his back, missed the post-bye game against the Rams, and returned to the field in San Francisco on Nov. 12. But his back injury prevented him from playing in the second half of that game, and he never returned to the field.
Pugh becomes the 20th Giants player on the current injured reserve list (which does not include players previously placed there who received injury settlements and were waived). He is the third starting offensive lineman on the list, joining center Weston Richburg and guard D.J. Fluker.
Pugh’s eight games played will be the lowest total of his five-year career. He has played in all 16 regular-season games just once, as a rookie in 2013. Pugh has since played in 14, 14, 11 and now eight games. He will be a free agent after the season concludes.
*Defensive tackle Damon Harrison publicly responded for the first time to Spagnuolo naming him defensive captain. Harrison replaced Jonathan Casillas, who is on injured reserve.
“The coaches and my teammates putting their trust in me, so I’ll gladly accept what Spags asks,” Harrison said.
Harrison had previously insisted he is not a leader, “because we got other guys here who are better suited for that.” Told that some of his teammates pegged him as a natural choice for captain, Harrison said, “They are just being nice, man. They’re afraid of me, so they’re just being nice.”
*Spagnuolo had planned to practice outdoors today, but was thwarted by the snow that fell in northern New Jersey overnight. So for the second day in a row, the Giants worked in their fieldhouse at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
“Prefer not to do that,” Spagnuolo said. “I’d like to try to get out sometime in these next two days, because we need to be outside in the elements, but we just didn’t. We just started to get the work done against Philly. Being inside was a good thing these past two days. Having said that, I thought we had a pretty good practice. Throttled it down a little bit at the end just to make sure we’re fresh. I think the guys are reacting pretty well and looking forward to playing the Eagles.”
*Wide receiver Roger Lewis, Jr. missed practice for the second day in a row. “We’ll know a little bit more tomorrow (about his potential availability for the game),” Spagnuolo said.
*Safety Landon Collins returned to practice on a limited basis after missing the workout yesterday with an ankle injury.
“Got out there and did individuals, and I think we gave him some cardio to keep him up to speed,” Spagnuolo said. “Hopefully, we can get him out there tomorrow and do something.”
*Collins was one of eight players who were limited. The group included wide receivers Sterling Shepard (hamstring) and Travis Rudolph (hamstring), linebacker B.J. Goodson (ankle), tight end Rhett Ellison (finger), cornerback Bandon Dixon (heel/hamstring), safety Nat Berhe (hamstring), and Harrison (not injury-related).
Spagnuolo said he is very appreciative of the players who are staying on the field despite their aches and pain.
“This morning when I had the team meeting, I put up that a lot of guys had fought through yesterday’s practice with injuries and are banged up, and they did it again today,” Spagnuolo said. “I wanted them to know I appreciated that. I think it says a lot about the character of the guy. I mean, they were still in there fighting. I think that’s a great reflection of the player’s we’ve got in that locker room. Everybody is banged up this time of year in the NFL. It’s easy to keep coming out here when you’re winning. It’s a little bit tougher when you’re in the situation we’re in, but I think for the most part this group we have loves playing the game of football. I think they like being a part of the New York Giants organization, and that means something to all of us. And if we keep functioning that way, I know we’ll be okay.”