EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Logan Ryan was placed today on the reserve/COVID-19 list and the Giants' final injury report of the week lists the safety and defensive captain as out for their game Monday night in Tampa Bay.
But coach Joe Judge is holding out hope that Ryan will be able to face the defending Super Bowl champions.
"I'd say when you're on that (COVID list), obviously you can't play," Judge said. "Is there a small chance that he could still test out and be available? There is. We're preparing for all the situations of him not being available, as well as if he turns around for the last minute and he is. We'll prepare for that, as well."
Would that include flying down to Tampa on game day if Ryan's status changes?
"It absolutely would," Judge said. "So, if he clears as late as Monday morning, we'll get him down there and have him ready to play."
Ryan has been participating in meetings virtually since testing positive on Thursday.
Because Ryan is vaccinated, he needs, as Judge said, "two consecutive negative tests, within a span of 24 (hours) apart" to be eligible to play. Should that not happen before Monday, Ryan must meet the same standard before he could play in the home game against the Philadelphia Eagles a week from tomorrow.
Ryan's absence would be substantial. He leads the team with 72 total tackles and 47 solo stops. He is the most experienced member of the secondary with 134 regular-season games played and 109 starts. Ryan is familiar with Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady as both a former teammate and an opponent. And he is a vocal defensive leader.
If Ryan does not play, third-year pro Julian Love will have a larger role next to Xavier McKinney, who was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after intercepting two passes and returning one for a touchdown in the Giants' most recent game, the victory against Las Vegas on Nov. 7. J.R. Reed, who played 13 special teams snaps vs. the Raiders in his Giants debut, will likely see action on defense.
Judge said Love can "absolutely" duplicate some of Ryan's responsibilities.
"That's what we work on between Jules and Zay (McKinney) and those guys right now, J.R. and different guys playing the safety position for us," Judge said. "They prepare every day for that. Again, we talk all the time about we don't want to lose any of our players, however, if we do, we have to prepare for the next man to step up and execute accordingly. These guys prepare hard. Jules, Zay, J.R., all the DBs have been getting together a little bit extra, working on communication and making sure we're on the same page."
View photos from practice as the Giants prepare for their Monday night matchup against the Buccaneers.
*Three players in addition to Ryan were declared out – and will remain out: wide receiver Sterling Shepard (quad), linebacker Lorenzo Carter (ankle/illness) and safety Nate Ebner (knee).
Four players are questionable, including running backs Saquon Barkley (ankle) and Devontae Booker (hip), fullback Cullen Gillaspia (calf) and tight end Kaden Smith (knee).
Left tackle Andrew Thomas remains on injured reserve but practiced all week and seems to be on track to return to action in Tampa after missing the last three and four of the last five games with foot and ankle injuries. As he normally does in these circumstances, Judge steered clear of making definitive statements about the player's availability.
"We're going to see how he comes through and see how it looks right here," Judge said prior to practice. "I'd say yesterday was a good day for him. We're going to see how he comes out today and really how the next couple of days go. We do have more of a window here right now to see where he's at. I'd say the next 48 hours will be big not just in seeing how he came out of yesterday's practice, but also how his body is recovering and how we think he's going to be able to go out there and repeat and sustain for a duration of time on Monday night. Seeing how his body reacts from the last couple of days will be big for us the next couple of days."
Thomas said there is "nothing right now in my mind" that would prevent him from playing Monday. "Just taking it one day at a time, doing what the trainers tell me to and just trusting myself," he said.
Thomas is confident he will not just play but perform at the high level he demonstrated early in the season.
"That's the focus that any time I'm on the field, I'm dominating, I'm doing everything I can," Thomas said. "That just comes with watching film, understanding my technique, and making sure I don't lose anything on the field with the reps I've gotten this week. Just making sure I get my technique back."
*Barkley hasn't played since injuring his ankle early in the game in Dallas on Oct. 10 but practiced on a limited basis every day this week.
"He's actually in the same boat as Andrew in terms of having a good week of practice, trending the right way and really progressing for us," Judge said. "The next 48 hours will be big in terms of seeing how his body responds and what we think it will look like for Monday night."
*Judge said signing linebacker Trent Harris off the practice is a "possibility." Harris was elevated from and then returned to the practice squad each of the last two games.
"We have a number of guys and we have some open roster spots right now," Judge said. "There are a number of guys who have made some contributions for us at different positions from the practice squad, so we're evaluating a lot of things based on different players' health at different positions and we'll make those final decisions. Being a Monday night game gives you some more flex time to go up to Monday to make those."
*The Buccaneers listed wide receiver Antonio Brown (ankle) as out, tight end Rob Gronkowski (back) as questionable and nose tackle Vita Vea (knee) as doubtful.
Judge and Gronkowski spent seven seasons together in New England and the Giants' coach is prepared for the four-time first-team All-Pro to play.
"I think we have to anticipate the possibility based on him practicing this week with the team and being a full participant the last couple of days," Judge said. "That's something we have to look at as coaches and say, 'Okay, what's it going to do? How is it going to alter?' Then, the first thing you start with with a guy like Rob is situationally, where is it going to impact the offense? How are they going to use him in the red area? How are they going to use him on the third down? How is he going to be a factor in two-minute? What do we think they're going to do with this guy maybe coming off injury different than earlier in the season when he was healthy? We have to factor in all those things right there, but I'd say this in terms of his relationship with the quarterback down there, it's obviously very unique. There's a lot of experience between those two. They've made a lot of big plays throughout the years. It's obvious when you've got that kind of relationship with a receiver, you can expect in critical moments to see those guys be targets."
Click through the history of the New York Giants facing legendary quarterback Tom Brady, a series that includes two meetings in the Super Bowl.