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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –
Too often during his tenure with the Giants, Tom Coughlin's interaction with the media the day following a game has been more of a casualty report than a review of the action and player performance.
That pretty much occurred again today, when the early question-and-answer portion of Coughlin's conference call was dominated by the injuries the team suffered last night in a 22-12 preseason victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Most notably, the Giants lost two safeties for the season, Bennett Jackson with a torn ACL and Justin Currie with a fractured ankle and fibula. The news about Jackson was particularly unpleasant. A sixth-round draft choice in 2014, Jackson missed his entire rookie season after undergoing knee surgery. He made the transition from cornerback to safety; last night he started, played most of the game and had six tackles before he was hurt late in the fourth quarter. Currie is a rookie free agent.
"Bennett had been a guy that we had grabbed and he worked very, very hard at that job trying to give us another option there," Coughlin said. "It's just a sad thing to see it happen, because it's difficult. He's tackling a tight end and they get all twisted up on the bottom of a pile. He ends up underneath the tight end, and if you just watch him grimace, it comes when he's on the ground. So I don't know exactly what happened."
The departures of Bennett and Currie left the Giants with just three available safeties: veterans Jeromy Miles and Brandon Meriweather, and rookie Justin Halley.
The good news is that help should be on the way. Coughlin said second-round draft choice Landon Collins (knee), second-year veteran Nat Berhe (calf) and third-year pro Cooper Taylor (toe) could return this week.
"Hopefully, we'll get some of those guys back," Coughlin said.
Asked again moments later about the safeties, Coughlin said, "We have Meriweather here, we have three guys that we think are going to be able to practice and come back. So that's where we are. There hasn't been a lot of numbers available at any time. For whatever reason, there always seems to have been one or two of these guys that's not able to practice. So in reality, it looks as if we'll have four (safeties). Maybe, and again I'm just speculating because we're going to have roughly two days to try to figure out who can practice and what we can do, so that's where we are."
Meriweather, a nine-year veteran, joined the team a week ago. Now he has a chance to work his way into a larger role on the team.
"He's a veteran safety that we know the style of play that he is best utilized in," Coughlin said. "He got his feet wet last night and I think he'll improve and be better the next week (when the Giants host the Jets in the MetLife Bowl on Saturday)."
Safety wasn't the only position hit last night. Three linebackers also left the game with injuries: middle linebackers Jon Beason and Tony Johnson with knee sprains and Mark Herzlich with a concussion. Beason is listed as week-to-week and Johnson as day-to-day.
- Coughlin offered a favorable review of first-round draft choice Ereck Flowers, who started at left tackle for the second week in a row.
"We thought he played well technically," Coughlin said. "Very sound, and he is improving. If you watch some of the run game, you see him move people off the ball. He did a nice job of that. He and (Justin) Pugh got involved in a couple of nice twist exchanges where we picked up in pass protection. You saw him aggressively go back and recover that ball on the ground, I know he's listening because we've been harping on that. Let the officials tell you that it was an incomplete pass, and don't let it lay on the ground. We've shown examples of that, so I think that there's no doubt that each one of these experiences he's grown and benefitted from." * Geoff Schwartz saw his first game action since last Nov. 30 in Jacksonville – where he suffered a season-ending broken ankle – and played both guard and tackle.
"He played pretty well when he was playing at the guard spot; I don't think quite as good at the tackle spot," Coughlin said. "But it was his first time out and he did get a lot of snaps, so it had to help him."
- Wide receivers Victor Cruz (calf) and Rueben Randle (knee tendonitis) missed the game. Will they return this week?
"I really don't know," Coughlin said. "The thing with Rueben has really confused me. He's been able to handle this so well over the years, and yet this circumstance has been bothersome. There was so much speculation going in about having these people work together. We haven't really seen them work together yet and we're this far into camp. And the same thing with Victor. When they tell us they can go, they can go."
- The starters get their longest stints of the preseason in the third game, usually playing into the second half. That's not all that will simulate the regular season.
"This will be an in-season type of a preparation this week," Coughlin said. "We are trying to make it as structured as much as possible according to what they can look forward to coming into the regular season."