Injuries have plagued the Giants this past week, but it does not affect the teams' confidence heading into Denver:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –The Giants knew they would be shorthanded when they play the Broncos in Denver on Sunday night. But they didn't think it would be because so many players on the active roster would miss the game.
Already without the three wide receivers – Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Harris (who is also the team's primary kickoff and punt returner) – who were placed on injured reserve this week, plus suspended cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Giants today announced that six other players will not suit up against the 3-1 Broncos. Five of the players are starters.
The list includes linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck), center Weston Richburg (concussion), running back Paul Perkins (ribs), wide receiver Sterling Shepard (ankle), and defensive ends Olivier Vernon (ankle) and Romeo Okwara (who sprained his knee in practice yesterday).
The best injury news the Giants had today is that safety Landon Collins (ankle), the team's leading tackler, is questionable. Collins has started every game in his three-year career.
Despite the crowd in the athletic trainers' room, coach Ben McAdoo is bullish on his team's chances in Sports Authority Field at Mile High, a tough venue for even healthy teams to visit.
"We've got a great opportunity," McAdoo said. "There's nobody giving us a chance in hell to go win this ballgame. People don't think we can score a point without 13 (Odell Beckham, Jr.). They think our defense has lost its stinger. Special teams isn't important to the whole locker room. So we're going to find out what we're made out of on a big stage, and I think we have a good football team.
"You go back and you look at the first two games of last season, we found a way to win a game versus a quarterback who never played (Dallas' Dak Prescott), against a team (New Orleans) that was battling here at home. Then we lost three in a row, we were 2-3. This year, last three ballgames, we lost either in the last seconds of the ballgame, or the last series of the ballgame. And we had opportunities to win those games. We haven't found a way to win. We need to do that, that's my job. But I still feel we have a good football team. I believe in the guys in the locker room. We had a great practice on Wednesday and Thursday. It was a spirited practice yesterday with pads on. So, I'm excited to go see how we play."
The Giants are 28th in the NFL with an average of 16.4 points a game, prompting McAdoo to field a question about why he believes the Giants can score without Beckham.
"Practice," he said. "Watching the way we practice and watching the way we execute in practice. Seeing the run game going.
"We ran the ball better last week (a season-high 152 yards). We had over 102 yards after contact running the football. We're doing some positive things in the games. We just have to play a complete game and play consistent football." Casillas, who is also the team's defensive captain, has started all five games this season at weakside linebacker. But he was on the field for just 35 plays in the Giants' loss to the Chargers last week. Keenan Robinson is expected to start in his place. Last season, Robinson started six games, plus the NFC Wild Card Game in Green Bay (on the strong side). He started at all three linebacker positions, including the season finale in Washington at middle linebacker. Robinson's most recent start on the weak side was last Dec. 22 in Philadelphia.
Richburg started 26 consecutive games before sitting out last week. This will be the first time in Richburg's four seasons that he will miss more than one game. Brett Jones will make his second start at center against the Broncos.
Perkins also missed the game against Los Angeles. In his absence, starter Orleans Darkwa and rookie Wayne Gallman combined for 126 of the Giants' 152 rushing yards.
Shepard hurt his ankle in the second quarter of the game against the Chargers. Of the four receivers who were injured last week, he was the only one who didn't need season-ending surgery. Shepard is the team's second-leading receiver with 22 catches for 263 yards and a touchdown. The Giants will play with a reconstructed corps of wideouts that includes Roger Lewis, Jr., Tavarres King, Travis Rudolph and Ed Eagan. The latter two will make their NFL debut.
Vernon last week missed the first game of his six-year career; he had played in 84 consecutive games, with 52 starts (plus a postseason start). Fourth-year pro Kerry Wynn started in his place and had three tackles (one solo).
Okwara, who started the final five games last year, has played as a reserve in each contest this season.
*McAdoo was peppered with questions about Rodgers-Cromartie's indefinite suspension, which was announced yesterday.
"We are going to revisit it at the beginning of next week," McAdoo said.
In response to follow-up queries, McAdoo said, "There was a lot that went into it. We like to handle things internally, in-house, on a case-by-case basis, and we don't like to broadcast. … We don't like to put people's business out, and how we handle our disciplinary issues, out in the public. We don't feel like that helps us as a football team. Holding guys accountable is important, but we need to handle that in-house as much as you possibly can. In this case, we didn't feel that was an option."
Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants face the Broncos on Sunday