Will Beatty is definitely out. Osi Umenyiora almost certainly is. Chase Blackburn is back in. Ahmad Bradshaw vowed to be in. Michael Boley hopes to be in. And Michael Strahan was in...the defensive line meeting room here, delivering a pep talk as only he can.
Yes, it was a busy day here at the Timex Performance Center. Two days after their loss in New Orleans, the Giants returned to the field to begin preparations for their home game Sunday against the 11-0 Green Bay Packers. They did so amid a flurry of transactions and injury news, not to mention a visit by one of the greatest players in their history.
Beatty, who started the first 10 games at left tackle, was placed on injured reserve today, a week after undergoing surgery to repair a detached retina in his right eye. His roster spot was filled by Blackburn, the linebacker who led the Giants in special teams tackles in each of his six seasons here. The Giants have five games remaining and Blackburn thinks he can claim the title again.
"I have to get about five a game," Blackburn said. "Hey, I'm going to do whatever it takes, I'm going to try. I'm sure things have been done crazier than that."
It's been a whirlwind few weeks for Blackburn, whom the Giants elected not to re-sign this year. On Nov. 1, his second son, Bentley Brooks, was born. At 4:15 p.m. yesterday, he got a call from the Giants, asking him to return. An hour later, he was at the airport in Columbus, Ohio for a 6:12 flight that didn't take off until 8:30.
"I had my bags backed so I was ready to go," Blackburn said. "I've been working out and I had some pretty good workouts with some other teams over this time, some good calls, good conversations. (They were) talking about if something happens, you'll be a guy that we call. So I kept a bag packed. It's the business that we're in. It can be any minute. I wouldn't have had time to pack too much if I wasn't already set up."
The 28-year-old Blackburn has played in 93 regular season games with 17 starts and in six postseason games. His career regular season totals include 108 tackles (65 solo), 1.5 sacks, two interceptions (including one returned 32 yards for a touchdown), three passes defensed, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and 104 special teams tackles. Blackburn can play all three linebacker positions, on all the special teams and provide leadership for the Giants' four rookie backers, one of whom, Mark Herzlich, suffered an ankle injury on Monday.
"I'm sure that's part of it," Blackburn said. "I'm not trying to sound arrogant or conceited. Like I said, I try to know the playbook. I'm trying to know all three positions. So I do bring that element to it and being a captain last year, a lot of the old guys, the veterans and guys who were here know me and respect my game and what I do. That gives me a heads up, a little one up on things, to be able to come in and not feel like the odd man out. A lot of times when guys come in at the end of the season, they're just kind of sitting back and watching things go and trying to just barely fit in. I'm trying to step back up and take over where I was last year and in the past."
So what do the coaches expect from someone who hasn't played a football game in 11 months?
"Come back in, do the same things I've done in the past," Blackburn said. "Just try to give that leadership again, try to get right back into it. I know I haven't played a lot of football lately, but I'm going to give it everything I can, just like I always do.
"One of the reasons, I think, they brought me back, knowing the system, knowing the special teams, knowing the guys. I know the chemistry in the locker room and things like that. I know the coaches and what they expect. I think that all plays into it, but I'm just glad to be back wearing that 'NY.' Even though I'm in number 93, I still have the 'NY' on the chest."
NOTES*The Packers have declared two offensive linemen out of the game: left tackle Chad Clifton (hamstring/back) and right guard Josh Sitton (knee). Linebackers Desmond Bishop and A.J Hawk sat out practice today with calf injuries.
*The Giants (465) and Saints (577) combined for 1,042 yards Monday night. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the highest total ever in a Giants game. It was the second-highest total in the NFL this season. On Sept. 12, Miami (488) and New England (622) combined for 1,110 yards.
*New Orleans had four touchdown drives that were at least 80 yards long, the first Giants opponent to do that since Tennessee on Oct. 1, 2000.
*The Giants have not scored a first-half touchdown in four consecutive games, nor do they have a run longer than nine yards in back-to-back games, the first time either of those has occurred since 1983.
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