The worst news to come out of the Giants' win over the Panthers yesterday was that TE Kevin Boss has a concussion and backup tackle Will Beatty, who filled Boss' spot in the blocking game once he went out, has a broken right fifth metatarsal and will require surgery.
While it's anybody's guess how long the two will be out, consider this. Tom Coughlin did not deny the fact that Beatty's injury could be a season-ender. And given the NFL's state of heightened caution concerning concussions, Boss' third in three seasons could mean an extended absence for the tough pass-catcher.
That leaves the Giants in a major quandry this week, as the coaching staff tries to figure out how to block the Colts' defensive ends, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, who undoubtedly will come in angry as all get-out after letting the Texans ran over them for 257 rushing yards in a 34-24 setback. Travis Beckum remains the only healthy tight end on the roster, and he is more pass-catcher than blocker. Bear Pascoe, a good blocker, as well as blocking TE Jake Ballard reside on the practice squad, but Coughlin would not commit to signing either of them to the gameday roster yet.
That could still happen, and is likely in that the coaching staff has told Beckum to bone up on slot receiver duties. They clearly want him as a pass-catcher, as blocking has never been his forte, anyway.
Adding to the issues is the fact that Beckum missed three weeks of camp with hamstring problems and two days of the first regular-season practice week with a stiff neck. That's a lot of reps to make up for a second-year player who spent most of his first season playing a now-abandoned H-back role.
"Obviously, with a week of reps it's going to be better," said Beckum, who caught two passes for 11 yards against the Panthers. "We did a lot of things during the game…it was my first time doing those things. But I feel a lot more confident."
Some of those things included playing the slot, or "Y" position.
"There's not very many times you're going to see me lined up at the "Y" position," the 6-foot-3, 243-pound Beckum said. "I'm always going to be lined up wide or in the slot, which is something that the coaches were harping on me about; make sure you're getting all the things on the slot.
"Getting thrown in there on the "Y," it was different. It was stuff I had done before, but I hadn't repped it a lot during the week. I made some mistakes, but it's definitely a learning experience."
It's clear that, at least for the next week, and perhaps beyond that, the Giants will need a straight blocking tight end. That could be Pascoe, though they'd have to cut someone or place someone on injured reserve to accomplish that signing. That could be Beatty, depending on how the surgeons handle his operation. Or, they could make do for a few weeks by putting left guard Rich Seubert out there and moving backup guard Shawn Andrews into his spot. Seubert has played as an eligible receiver before, most famously in the 2002 playoff loss to San Francisco when holder Matt Allen threw a desperation pass to him after Trey Junkin botched the snap for what would have been a game-winning field goal.
Whatever happens with the blocking tight end spot, the fact is the inexperienced Beckum will have to step up, whether it be to catch a pass, chip on Freeney or Mathis in pass protection, or take one of them or a linebacker full-on as a run blocker.
"He needs more concentrated (practice) time," Coughlin said. "But he'll stick his nose in there."
Quarterback Eli Manning at first said the offensive staff would probably have to tailor the offense, eliminating some of the things they would do with Boss. But he later amended the thought.
"I hope we don't have to tailor it," Manning said. "It's a tight end and we need Beckum to step up. He's got tremendous speed and plenty of talent, and could help us in our passing game. We just have to get him up to speed on everything that's going on.
"He'll be fine. He's just got to work with the ones. This week he'll get all the reps at practice, so he should be right up to speed and play well for us."
Meanwhile, Coughlin might have some dealings with the league on the actual shot that knocked Boss out of the game. The new rules change that calls for a 15-yard penalty for hitting a helpless receiver was not called as Boss was belted on his way down on the incompletion to the deep middle.
"If people are following the rules, the kid doesn't get touched," Coughlin said. "That was as blatant and as obvious as anything you've seen. No call, no nothing. We lose the player after a few plays in the game, and now we wait to see what his status is."
As for an explanation of the no-call, Coughlin said the officials were unresponsive.
"I didn't get anything," Coughlin said. "I went out, and they didn't have any idea that it happened."