Inside Slant, Notes, Quotes, Personnel

He played cornerback in the third game of the season, Sept. 25 at San Diego, and he hasn't played since. Now the Giants' Will Peterson won't play anymore this season, after the team placed him on injured reserve Wednesday. He tried to practice one day last week and the next morning was sore.

"He was in great pain," coach Tom Coughlin said.

So the season-ending lower back injury (stress fracture of the transverse process) has put Peterson on the shelf until next year, and in his place the Giants signed street free agent cornerback Terrell Buckley, a 14-year veteran who has played for several teams, but most recently the New York Jets.

He was with the Patriots when they won the Super Bowl after the 2001 season.

Buckley also had stops with Green Bay (the Packers made the Florida State product the fifth overall pick in the 1992 draft), Miami, Denver, New England, returned to Miami, returned to New England and then went to the Jets. He last played 11 months ago, in the Jets' playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Peterson, a third-round draft pick in 2001, played at Western Illinois after spending his first two collegiate seasons at the University of Michigan. The 6-foot, 200-pounder started five games for the Giants as a rookie, and to date has five interceptions while starting 37 of the 49 games for which he was eligible.

"Buckley is a veteran with vast experience," Coughlin said. "He can learn the system quickly, and it is possible that he might even see some action this week (Sunday in Philadelphia). In a very specific role, he can help us right away. We are going to practice him and see where we are."

The move is not exactly one of desperation but was long overdue in terms of timing. Peterson was retained on the active roster from Games 4 through 11, reducing the available number of defensive backs by one.

"Two weeks ago," Coughlin said, "we were faced with the potential of playing a game with six defensive backs. That was not a very good situation for our team to be in."

The question is this: What took so long? The severity of Peterson's injury, even had it miraculously healed, would have taken him the rest of the season to work back into shape. He was not going to be of any use to the Giants from the midway point of the season, yet he stayed active and, in effect, the team carried one fewer player than is allowed.

SERIES HISTORY: This will be the 142nd meeting of the teams, with the Eagles holding a comfortable 73-66-2 advantage. But the Giants won the first matchup of the season, 27-17 on Nov. 20, their first victory over the Eagles in the last five games. Historically, the most points the Giants ever scored came in a 62-10 victory over Philadelphia in 1972.


--Veteran offensive tackle Bob Whitfield was asked to compare young Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora, currently tied for the NFL sack lead with 11, to other outstanding defensive ends he has faced over his 14 years in the league.

"Osi reminds me of Chuck Smith (who used to play in Atlanta) and Chris Doleman (a Minnesota great)," he said. "He has that power rush that Smith had, and he has good handwork like Doleman. Besides, he goes against me in practice, so I assume he's learning a lot by doing that."

--Fullback Jim Finn has the distinction of having played with both Manning brothers, Peyton in Indianapolis and Eli with the Giants. Comparisons? "I think Peyton is more laid-back, more comfortable with what he does, but I think Eli is more volatile and more outgoing. I think he's going to be great."

--Umenyiora was asked if he thinks the Eagles, this week's opponents, are significantly weakened because of the loss of such veterans as quarterback Donovan McNabb, wide receiver Terrell Owens, running back Brian Westbrook and center Hank Fraley. "No, I don't," he said. "The Eagles will have players who can hurt you. We need to keep producing turnovers to help our team win."

--Jay Feely has made one of his last five field-goal attempts and has converted 24 of 30 attempts this season. He has scored 105 points, the second-highest figure in the NFL behind the injured Neil Rackers of Arizona, who has 110. It is entirely possible that Feely will emerge as the NFL kick-scoring leader. Also, he needs 23 points in four games to surpass the team's single-season scoring record, set by kicker Ali Haji-Sheikh in 1983.

--The Giants are third in the NFL and first in the NFC in turnover margin at plus-13. They have 15 interceptions (one more than all of last season) and 17 fumble recoveries. Free safety Brent Alexander has four interceptions to lead the team, and with one more he will achieve a personal season high for his 13 years in the league.

--The Giants rank ninth in total offense in the NFL, third in the NFC. They are 19th in total defense in the NFL and 11th in the NFC. But they are second in defense against the run in the conference (sixth in the NFL).

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 - Interceptions by cornerbacks among the Giants' total of 15. Right cornerback Curtis Deloatch and nickel back Frank Walker each have one. The starter at left cornerback Will Allen, has played well, has seven passes defensed and 57 tackles, but not a single pick. He has dropped three sure interceptions.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Tiki (Barber) reminds me of Marcus Allen. He has that same style. Smooth and silky, you know, doesn't make too many herky-jerky moves. He just takes off and has about two moves, and that's usually enough." - Left tackle Bob Whitfield on teammate Tiki Barber, who is third in the NFL with 1,233 rushing yards.


The Giants announced that starting RDT William Joseph, who has missed the past three games because of a dislocated elbow, might play Sunday against the Eagles. He practiced Wednesday but is listed as doubtful.

If he does return, he'll rotate with Fred Robbins, who took over the job, and Kenderick Allen, who backs up Kendrick Clancy at left defensive tackle.

The Giants still list Curtis Deloatch as the starter at right cornerback, although last week rookie Corey Webster started. Both have been erratic (Deloatch is in his second year) and the signing of Terrell Buckley might be an attempt to stabilize the secondary, since LCB Will Allen and the safeties, FS Brent Alexander and SS Gibril Wilson, are playing well.


--MLB Antonio Pierce (bruised leg) did not practice Wednesday, but coach Tom Coughlin expects him to play Sunday. Pierce is the team's leading tackler with 96. His backup is a free agent rookie, Chase Blackburn.

--RDE Osi Umenyiora, the NFL co-leader with 11 sacks, feels the front four plus the linebackers have controlled the line of scrimmage in most games. "I think we have come up with some key turnovers," he said. "We have forced a lot of them this year, and our unit is getting closer and closer and able to read each other's moves."

--LT Luke Petitgout, who had five false-start penalties two weeks ago in Seattle and has eight for the season, had just one against Dallas last Sunday. "It isn't anything to do with technique," he said. "It's just me, my concentration."

--WR Plaxico Burress discounts the notion that the Eagles, with so many missing veterans, might be an easy mark. "It's a division game, and they just love to beat us," he said. "You don't look past anybody, especially these guys. They didn't play the way they wanted to last Monday night (a 42-0 whipping by Seattle), but they're a lot better than that."

GAME PLAN: The Giants defense, ranked second in the NFL vs. the rush, figures to have an easy time against the Eagles. The latest Philadelphia injury is the one that has sent superstar RB Brian Westbrook out for the rest of the season. This will put rookie Ryan Moats in the backfield, along with Lamar Gordon and Reno Mahe. The three of them have gained a total of 230 yards - Westbrook had 617. Then, when the running game proves not to work well, the Eagles will turn to seldom-used Mike McMahon at quarterback, and his primary target will be TE L.J. Smith.

The Giants offense should fare far better. RB Tiki Barber is on a mission to lead the league, and currently he is third with 1,233 yards. He needs just 71 per game to eclipse his single-season high (1,518) set last year. The passing of Eli Manning should find targets like WR Plaxico Burress, TE Jeremy Shockey, Barber and WR Amani Toomer. With the offensive line blocking well, this might be an easier-than-expected outing.


--Giants RDE Osi Umenyiora, a combination of speed and strength that has netted him the co-lead in the NFL with 11 sacks, gets to test rookie LT Todd Herremans, a 6-foot-6, 320-pound rookie from Saginaw Valley State College, the second of two fourth-round picks. Herremans replaced Pro Bowl T Tra Thomas, lost for the season with lumbar disc surgery after being injured Nov. 20 in a game against the Giants.

--Giants LT Luke Petitgout will try to hold off impressive rookie RDE Trent Cole, who had 28 tackles and five sacks and has started the past three games after replacing N.D. Kalu. Cole is 6-3 and just 260 with great speed.

--The Eagles' running game, virtually crippled with the loss of RB Brian Westbrook for the season, will start rookie Ryan Moats against a front seven that has allowed 92.7 yards per game and ranks second in the league in defense against the rush.

INJURY IMPACT: The Giants report no new injuries except for a bruised leg suffered by MLB Antonio Pierce last week vs. Dallas, but he is expected to play. They may get RDT William Joseph (dislocated elbow) back after a three-week absence, but most likely they'll wait until next week to play him. Joseph practiced Wednesday, Pierce did not.

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