Playing cornerback for the Giants is becoming hazardous duty.
Coach Tom Coughlin made a rare segue in his news conference today to praise cornerback Justin Tryon, who had one huge play and several other notable contributions yesterday in the Giants' 20-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins in MetLife Stadium. Coughlin noted Tryon's work in part because Tryon played most of the game with a serious injury, which is becoming the norm at his position. Five Giants cornerbacks have been sidelined with significant medical issues since the beginning of training camp
Tryon suffered a broken arm in the game. He underwent surgery and was placed on season-ending injured reserve today.
"He literally played 2½ quarters with a broken arm," said Coughlin, who later added, "nobody noticed it and he wasn't about to let anybody know.
"The thing that I appreciated and I was standing close by, as the doctors were showing him and talking to him about his injury, he didn't want to hear about it and all he wanted to know was when he could play again. He said, 'Just put a cast on it and I will play,' and that was something to hear a kid talk about how badly he wanted to play. It was quite an inspiration for me to listen to that and I wanted you to know about what he did."
Tryon was signed by the Giants on Oct. 4, soon after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts. He has played in the last three games and had his finest outing yesterday, when he played extensively in the sub defenses and had a team-high two special teams tackles, the last of which was one of the game's most significant plays.
The Giants were clinging to their three-point lead when Steve Weatherford had to punt from his own 25-yard line with 3:37 remaining. Miami inserted the electric Reggie Bush into the game as a punt returner for the first time. Weatherford blasted a 55-yard punt to the Dolphins' 20-yard line. Before Bush could step forward and put a lump in the Giants' collective throat, Tyron wrapped his arms around the returner's legs and held on long enough for Jacquian Williams to finish him off for a four-yard loss.
"On the final punt, Steve Weatherford kicked a booming 55-yard punt that, quite frankly, I was nervous about because of the guy back there catching the punt," Coughlin said. "They pressured so that the ball couldn't be punted out of bounds. It was kicked very well and very deep and when he caught the ball it was 55 yards down the field. Justin arrived on the spot and wrapped him up holding on for dear life until he got some help. It ended up being a minus-4 return. So instead of being decent field position with an exceptional athlete returning, it ended up being a net of 59 yards. A guy with a broken arm made the play that sometimes goes unnoticed. The gunners in that situation have not always come through for us, but this kid did.
"(His arm) was probably fractured and the rest of it was taken care of on that last play."
The Giants have a near-epidemic of cornerback injuries. It began on Aug. 4, when Bruce Johnson ruptured his Achilles tendon and was lost for the season. Two days later, first-round draft choice Prince Amukamara broke his foot during an individual drill in his first practice, one day after signing his contract. Terrell Thomas, the team's leading tackler and interceptor each of the previous two seasons, and reserve Brian Witherspoon each tore knee ligaments in a preseason victory over Chicago on Aug. 22.
Corey Webster, who has three interceptions in the last two games, Aaron Ross and Michael Coe have – knock on wood – remained healthy throughout the season. Tryon had become the third corner, but now his season has ended.
"Here we go again," Coughlin said. "We had a guy who had some experience playing on the defensive side of the ball for X amount of snaps. He has been counted upon on special teams, so here we go."
One potential replacement is Amukamara, who practiced with the scout team last week, his first 11-on-11 work as a Giant. He was inactive against the Dolphins, as he has been for every game.
"He is going to work this week and hopefully get better," Coughlin said. "It will be a day-by-day thing and if he gets to a point where we feel like he can play on Sunday - but that remains to be seen."
*The 5-2 Giants will be monitoring injuries to several other key players as they prepare for their game Sunday at 5-2 New England. Both their leading rusher (Ahmad Bradshaw) and receiver (Hakeem Nicks) have issues. Bradshaw's foot was X-rayed during the game, though he returned to the field. "He is sore," Coughlin said. "He has had this before and he has it again." Nicks limped off the field late in the game with a hamstring injury. "I am sure it is going to be day-to-day," Coughlin said. "We will have to see."
Nicks leads the team with 38 catches for 575 yards and three touchdowns, so if he can't play someone would have to step up in the passing game.
"We lose that he's a big play guy and he stretches that field for us and he's a guy that can go up and get it at any given time and change the momentum of the game," said wide receiver Victor Cruz, who leads the Giants with four touchdown receptions, including the game-winning 25-yarder yesterday. "We understand that he's important to our team and losing a guy like that, you're losing a big chunk of your offense. Our guys have to step up. We have to get our running game going. Myself and Mario and Devin Thomas and Michael Clayton are going to have to step in and fill that void."
Center David Baas left the game for two plays in the second quarter after getting kicked in the knee. He returned to play the remainder of the game. He said today he had more soreness than he did yesterday.
"He took a really significant hit there," Coughlin said. "It is structurally sound but he is very sore."
"We're just waiting on (the medical tests) to figure it out," Baas said. "They said day-by-day. We have to get the swelling out of it. I'll see them in the morning for treatment and just keep working at it."
Asked if he was hopeful but unsure about facing the Patriots, Baas said, "That's the best way to put it.
"If I was stable enough to go back in and play, that's a positive sign. My hope is very high. We just have to watch it day-by-day. Tomorrow, seeing how it felt from today will be a big factor."
*Another sore player was defensive end Justin Tuck, who played yesterday after missing three games with neck and groin injuries.
"Honestly, I didn't think I was going to make it through the game," Tuck said. "There are some things that I wish were feeling better than what they do, but I made it through the football game and we're just going to go forward coming up this week."
Tuck said he did not suffer a setback.
"It's Monday," Tuck said. "Everybody is sore. Everybody is kind of banged up. But we made it through, just trying to progress this week."
*The Giants rushed for only 58 yards against the Dolphins and have run for less than 70 yards in three of their last four games.
"(Two) weeks ago, I was pleased where we were headed (after a 122-yard outing vs. Buffalo) but not so yesterday," Coughlin said. "We didn't block anybody yesterday. Sometimes, we were in very good position and for whatever reason, we didn't maintain that position. We didn't keep the leverage. We had some opportunities that have to be shared by the runner who didn't get exactly where we wanted to but by in large, we didn't move them the way we planned on doing that. We have to get back to the drawing board and expect that the pride of that group is going to do something about it. They will get us on some kind of track so that we can have the balance I talk about and that we had a couple weeks ago but didn't have yesterday."
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