Injuries are part of the NFL landscape, and the NFL season is partially a war of attrition. The Giants lost two of their warriors this week as “Acting” third wide receiver Jerrell Jernigan and nickel cornerback Walter Thurmond were both placed on season ending injured reserve. Replacing them on the roster, both promoted from the practice squad, are linebacker Dan Fox, and wide receiver Julian Talley. The three spots on the practice squad were filled by wide receivers Travis Harvey and L’Damien Washington, and hybrid linebacker/defensive end James Davidson. The third opening was created when defensive end Jordan Stanton was waived last week.
Jernigan is referred to as the acting third wide receiver because first round draft pick Odell Beckham is expected to fill that role. He will not practice with the team this week and therefore won’t be active against the Houston Texans on Sunday. Given the short turnaround before next Thursday’s match-up against the Redskins in Washington, DC, the Giants week 5 game against the Atlanta Falcons still seems the most likely debut game for Beckham. He was running 100 yard dashes during practice today, which represents progress from last week, but until he takes part in team contact drills, he won’t see playing time. In his Wednesday press conference, head coach Tom Coughlin said that Preston Parker is first up for the opportunity to fill in for Jernigan.
Preseason superstar Corey Washington will have some opportunities with Jernigan out of the lineup, but Coughlin said he needs to improve on special teams in order to earn more playing time. Expect to see him in red zone packages where his height gives him a match-up advantage with shorter cornerbacks. Coughlin mentioned it, and he had one pass thrown to him in the red zone in the Detroit game on opening night.
Coughlin spoke with Victor Cruz, as a team captain, and said he expects him, and his entire position group, to step up. One of the recurring themes in Coughlin’s press conferences have been the lost opportunities for Giants receivers to make plays, something he is acutely aware of given his history as a wide receivers coach.
Coughlin also said that middle linebacker Jon Beason won’t practice today due to aggravating his toe injury against the Arizona Cardinals. Fox, wearing number 97, was added for depth at linebacker due to Beason’s injury and rookie Devon Kennard’s hamstring injury suffered in the season opener. Either Jameel McClain or Mark Herzlich will play middle linebacker if Beason can’t go on Sunday. Coughlin won’t rule him out, saying, “I wouldn’t put anything past this guy.”
Several players have been reinstated this week as the NFL and NFLPA formally agreed to the new drug policy that has been undergoing prickly negotiations since the new collective bargaining agreement was struck in 2011. Among those back with their teams are Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker and Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick. The Giants have not received word on either cornerback Jayron Hosley or offensive lineman Eric Herman. Once reinstated, the Giants will have to add them to the active roster, and make room by removing another player, or release them.
Among the other players on the pre-practice injury report, in addition to Beason, Kennard, and Beckham, were offensive linemen James Brewer and Charles Brown. One of them might be moved to injured reserve to add Herman to the roster if his knee injury is healed. ESPN reported that Herman has been reinstated, but word has not reached the Giants. Steve Weatherford and Markus Kuhn round out the Giants either not practicing or limited today.
In discussing the Texans, Coughlin said the first thing that jumps out at you is their +5 turnover margin. He also complimented quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s lack of turnovers, but says that the scheme used by the team is a big part of that. Fitzpatrick has has an issue with turnovers in the past. Coughlin also pointed out that the Texans offensive line as also surrendered only one sack in two games.
No discussion of the Texans would be complete without some mention of superstar defender J.J. Watt, who Coughlin called “Very energetic.” How well the Giants are able to contain Watt on Sunday will be a determining factor in the outcome of the game.
Watt spoke to the media today, and said he sees the Giants as a good team that’s trying to come together and saw definite progress in the offensive line from week 1 to week 2. Watt believes that part of the issue are the changes along the line, saying “They lost some guys, some great players.”
Asked about turnovers, and the Giants lack of them, Watt said that the bounce of the ball plays a role, and that it takes “An extreme effort” to create turnovers. He deflected questions on Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, saying he’s been too focused on game preparations to focus on outside events. Watt is obviously too intelligent and media savvy to be caught up in that cluster of mishandling. The Peterson case is especially relevant as the alleged abuse took place in Houston and he will stand trial in that area of the country.
Before judging Peterson too harshly, consider that his high school football coach has now admitted that he beat him with a wood paddle. Child abuse is often descended from a pattern that must be broken. What Peterson did is inexcusable, and cannot be permitted to continue – his children must be protected, however, jail doesn’t seem like a proactive solution in this instance. He needs to be educated and given a chance to change his parenting style. If it happens again, even once, a more extreme punishment would be warranted. For now, supervised visits, at Peterson’s expense, along with intensive education and counseling for his children could break the cycle.
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