Manning Going Into Philly Without Hixon

A couple of untested young players are going to have to step up bigtime to make up for the season-ending loss of Dominek Hixon.

No one was more surprised than Eli Manning to hear about the loss of third wide receiving option Domenik Hixon for a second straight season.

Next to Hixon, of course.

Hixon had earlier thought he might play Sunday in Philadelphia after injuring his calf and knee on his touchdown catch at the end of the second quarter. He even ran some sprints on the sideline in the third quarter, though he never re-entered the game.

An MRI Monday revealed a torn ACL in the right knee, the same knee where he suffered a season-ending tear during training camp in 2010.

Talk about hard luck for a tough, exciting player. But in the en, it wasn't unexpected.

"It was kind of wishful thinking more than anything," Hixon said. "I felt my calf tighten up. The doctor said that was the swelling going there. It was kind of just wishful thinking. I went out at the beginning of the third quarter, felt good, it's just one of those crazy things."

Hard luck for Manning, too, who needs every experienced pair of hands he can find these days. Keep in mind, too, that Mario Manningham is still iffy for Philadelphia as doctors continue to evaluate the severity of the concussion he suffered on the play before Hixon's touchdown.

"It's a shame, a guy who we missed last year and were happy to have back," Manning said. "Obviously you saw his contribution already with the touchdown catch. Those are the kinds of plays that he can bring to us.

"Unfortunate, but we're going to need some guys to step up. That's why we brought Brandon Stokley in here and Victor Cruz and we drafted Jerrel [Jernigan]. We have guys. We just need some young guys to step up and make some plays also. We still have talented receivers."

A breakout running game would certainly help matters, though the Giants have shown inconsistency in the run-blocking so far. And short-yardage downs have become far too adventuresome for Tom Coughlin's liking.

But even if Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs do produce, Manning is still going to have to throw the ball at some point. And Hixon, a good third and fourth option, won't be around to help out for a second consecutive year.

"We still have Hakeem [Nicks]. We still have Mario Manningham. Those are our two starters and the two guys that are in on most plays," Manning said. "Our two core guys are right there and with us.

"Obviously Hixon was a guy who rotated in. We still have Victor Cruz, who's been here all year long. We have Stokley, who's been here a week. He's going to have to do more and learn more of the plays. We still have talented guys and there's no reason we can't go out there and be successful throwing the ball."

This is nothing Manning hasn't seen before. Last year, the receivers were badly depleted by injury, only it happened later in the season.

"You keep going," he said. "You keep preparing. If everything was easy and went perfectly, it kind of takes some of the fun out of it. It always makes it a great opportunity for some guys to step up and show what they're made of and how they can go out there and make plays."

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