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Tackle Justin Pugh expects to play Sunday vs. Cowboys

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.** – Justin Pugh said today he intends to return to the field next Sunday night, when the Giants host the Dallas Cowboys.

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"That is my plan, that is what I want to do," the second-year pro said today. "I don't want to sit out. You hate not being out there when you feel like you could do something to help the team win."

Pugh, who has started all 26 games in his career at right tackle, left the Giants' loss yesterday to the San Francisco 49ers with a strained quad. He first felt soreness during pregame warmups last week in Seattle, but was able to play that entire game and practice last week. He was not as fortunate yesterday.

"It was out in the second drive," Pugh said. "We went down, we scored (on the opening possession) and the second drive, I got hurt on the first play.

"I knew I was going to play, I knew I was going to go out there and do it. I was able to play in Seattle, so I thought there would be no reason why I wouldn't be able to play against the 49ers."

It didn't work out that way. Pugh was replaced by Charles Brown. Asked how Brown fared in his first extended action as a Giant, coach Tom Coughlin said bluntly, "not very well."

Pugh thought the injury was minor when it occurred in Seattle.

"It was just something in pregame," he said. "It wasn't anything out of the ordinary, it was a misstep on a pregame warmup, I tweaked it, we wrapped it up, I played. Everyone is playing hurt at this time. So you have to go out there and you've got to fight through that stuff, and it is something I want to continue to do. I've got to get healthy and get back out there."

Coughlin was asked about Pugh at his news conference today.

"He had a strain prior to the game in Seattle," Coughlin said. "I was worried at that point in time that he would not be able to play. He played the whole game. When he reported the next day to the training room, the idea they thought was that it could be managed, because of the fact that he played the game and wasn't any worse for wear. He was treated so on and so forth. He got a few reps off from normal (last week in practice), but I wouldn't say it was any drastic reduction. Then to have him injured at that point and time in the game, before the game really seemed to get started was, 'Whoa.' We will deal with it the best we can.

"We didn't think going forward that it was a major issue, that it was controllable and it ended up being an issue in the game."

  • The most obvious positive development for the Giants yesterday was a defensive performance that was far superior to the one in the loss in Seattle last week. The 49ers scored just one touchdown and became the first team in nine years to beat the Giants scoring less than 17 points. Against the Seahawks, the Giants allowed 38 points, 510 yards, including 350 on the ground.

"I was pleased with the way the defense played and how hard they played and the fact that they bounced back," Coughlin said. "They still gave up 148 yards rushing, I do understand that. We did an outstanding job in the red zone. We made the stops when we had to. We showed resiliency when the defense was forced on the field with a sudden change at the 29-yard line and held the opponent to a field goal. Overall, I was pleased with the way they bounced back."

"There are some positive notes, and there are some negatives with everything," linebacker Jameel McClain said. "Obviously, it was a better performance than we put out the last couple of weeks. We want to build off of that and we want to try to continue to excel as a defense. So we've got to keep going in that direction and not take any missteps. Like I said, there were some good plays, and there were some bad plays in there that we could've done without and we could've held them to less yards than what we gave."

  • Running back Rashad Jennings rushed for 59 yards in his return after missing four games with a knee sprain. He had 18 carries and said he emerged from the game in good shape physically.

"Good, we're good, no setbacks," Jennings said. "That is all in the past."

Despite his five-week absence (including the bye), Jennings said he was not rusty, because, "I don't develop rust, because I am always moving; it was just a matter of fine tuning."

  • Although the Giants are significant longshots to make the playoffs, fullback Henry Hynoski said, "We won't accept that. We're still fighting for playoffs."
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