To Play or Not to Play?

So, should the Giants just rest Brandon Jacobs and his ailing knee until the playoffs? Or make sure to get him some additional regular season action to avoid any rust issues when the postseason rolls around?

"We will do the smart thing, the thing which is medically recommended," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

The second part of that quote is not open to debate. If the Giants' medical staff deems Jacobs unfit to play, then he won't be in uniform Sunday night when they Giants face the Dallas Cowboys in Texas Stadium. But if he is healthy enough to suit up, the question becomes … what is the smart thing?

Is it to play Jacobs when a victory over Dallas would a) clinch a first-round postseason bye, b) all but extinguish the playoff hopes of a fie rce rival and potentially dangerous playoff opponent, and c) get the Giants and the offense back on track after last week's disappointing 20-14 loss to Philadelphia?

Or is the more prudent move to rest Jacobs, give his knee an additional week to heal and perhaps increase the likelihood that he will be available to face the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 21 in a game that very well could decide home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs? And to look at it from a perspective that's more long-term, any rest Jacobs receives now could prove beneficial in the playoffs.

So what's the correct call? Coughlin isn't saying, of course, and likely won't make a decision on Jacobs' status until he has to – about 90 minutes before kickoff in Dallas. Jacobs didn't practice today after feeling pain and leaving the game against the Eagles. He first hurt the knee on Oct. 5 vs. Seattle and aggravated it on Nov. 16 vs. Baltimore.

"I took a hard fall on it and kind of hurt it a little bit more than anything else," Jacobs said. "I'm nursing it and doing the best I can. I'm listening to the medical staff and doing the best I can do.

"I feel pretty good. I'm just going day by day and hoping I get better day by day."

Does that mean he's optimistic he'll be in the lineup in Dallas?

"I have no idea what's going on with Sunday," said Jacobs, who has rushed for 1,002 yards this year, his second straight 1,000-yard season. "I wish I could be out there, but we have a playoff run we need to make coming up. I want to be healthy for that as well. I always want to play against Dallas.

"It's definitely a tough call, but like I said, I don't make them. I just listen to the people that have been doing this for years. I listen to them and let them call the shots. Everything comes down to the doctors. But just the competitive nature in me, I want to be out there to play."

Jacobs was in a similar predicament three weeks ago, after the knee injury worsened and he had to leave the victory over Baltimore. He thought he would play in Arizona, but didn't feel right Saturday night or Sunday morning and was put on the game-day inactive list. Derrick Ward started in his place and rushed for 69 yards on 20 carries and caught four passes for another 30 yards in the Giants' 37-29 victory.

"I practice like I'm a starter every day," said Ward, who is second on the team with a career-high 669 rushing yards. "If B.J. is not ab le to go, then other people have to step up, including myself. I won't know until game day, so I'm just going out there and practicing like I'm a starter."

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