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Linebackers regroup as Jacquian Williams misses practices

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Get to know the Giants' opponent for their Week 11 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –**
The Giants might have to play Sunday without their leading tackler, which would result in another reshuffling of the team's linebacker corps.

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Jacquian Williams, who has seldom been off the field this season, was sent home from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center today with a concussion he suffered last Sunday in Seattle. If he can't play Sunday at home against San Francisco, the team will be down to four linebackers – Jameel McClain, rookie Devon Kennard, Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich. The group has previously had to adjust on the fly because of the loss of middle linebacker Jon Beason for the season with a toe injury.

"Right now for us, it is just next man up," Paysinger said today. "This week, we'll have some different looks. You'll probably see myself in there. You'll probably see Mark in there. We will be changing up a little bit. For the most part it is the next man up mentality. Mark has had some starting experience, so have I within our careers here, so it is not something that I think is a concern. We know the defense and the scheme. Let's just go out there and perform."

"It seems like every year there's at least one week or two weeks where you're going with four guys and you're saying, 'You know what, let's pick up the slack,'" Herzlich said. "(There is) multiple learning by everybody, so it's good. We all have confidence that we can get it done. It puts more on some of the starters on special teams, but you've just got to do it. Hopefully, Jacquian will be back soon. You just grind. You know you're going to be tired, but that's good, you want to be tired."

Williams' 75 tackles (52 solo) are 16 more than the team's runner-up (McClain) has. He also has three passes defensed.

The 49ers are ninth in the NFL in rushing yards with 122.2 yards a game. Frank Gore has long been one of the league's best backs. The linebackers must play a big role in slowing him down and the 49ers' offense.

"The rotations will remain basically the same," coach Tom Coughlin said. "You are in a position week in and week out where you have to deal with the injuries and who can go and who can't go. We will do the same thing this week. This is our team. Guys have to step up."

That is especially true for the guys who will step in for Williams.

"Jacquian is a very gifted athlete and he was also on the field every single play of the season, on special teams, too," Herzlich said. "When you lose a key component like that, a cornerstone guy, it takes not just one person to step in and fill in the spots, it takes a group to back up that position."

That's what the Giants are expected to use on Sunday.

A reporter today mentioned to Odell Beckham Jr. that the Giants are 3-0 when they score first, 0-6 when they don't.

"I guess when you put it that way, we need to get off to a fast start, for sure," Beckham said. "You can't get off to a fast start and not finish it. I think the thing for us is finishing, not so much the fast start. Just being consistent throughout out the game and eliminating the little mistakes that we make and that we have been consistently making that hurt us in key drives in the game."

  • In addition to Williams, running back Peyton Hillis (concussion), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf) and defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder) did not practice. Coughlin said Moore would practice tomorrow.

Four players were limited: running back Rashad Jennings (knee), defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka (knee), tight end Daniel Fells (neck) and safety Nat Berhe (ankle).

  • The Giants will hold their 18th annual food drive at MetLife Stadium Sunday when they host the 49ers. Fans are encouraged to bring canned or non-perishable foods and deposit them at any of the Stop & Shop bins at each stadium entrance. You can also donate to the team's Virtual Food Drive by visiting www.cfbnj.org/giants.

All food collected during the drive will be donated to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (a member of Feeding America) for distribution to local partner charities in the area.

Since 1997, the Giants have hosted an annual food drive and helped feed thousands of hungry families during the holiday season. Thanks to the generosity of Giants fans, approximately 5,000 pounds of canned or non-perishable food is collected each year. Two years ago, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, fans donated more than 38,000 pounds of food and more than $18,000 to help struggling neighbors.

For more information about this event, contact the Community Relations Department of the New York Giants at (201) 935-8111.

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