Giants defense making up for injured offense

Giants defenders are trying to account for an offense struggling with injuries and have done a good job to create turnovers.

Defensive tackle Barry Cofield vividly remembers what a rash of injuries on a football team can do to a team.

It was only a year ago that Cofield, who was struggling with the aftereffects of offseason knee surgery, was part of one of the poorest defenses in Giants franchise history, a unit that like the offense was affected by injuries.

That's why when he looks at what his offensive teammates have been able to accomplish this year despite being without receivers Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, plus offensive linemen Shaun O'Hara, David Diehl and Shawn Andrews, Cofield is appreciative.

"You expect there to be a significant drop-off when you lose the quality of guys that we lost, but it's a testament to the coaching we have and a testament of the guys that we put in there," he said.

"Some guys who hadn't played football in months stepped right in and did an admirable job. The best that we have in there, the mainstays like Kareem McKenzie, Chris Snee, Eli Manning and all those guys, stepped up their game, and we were able to hold it together."

Of course, it also helps that Cofield and his mates have recognized that their teammates on the other side of the ball can't do it all by themselves. As such, the defense has cranked up its collective game by more than a few notches, doing everything it can to ensure that Manning has a short field to work with.

"Defensively, we saw all the injuries that we had on the offensive side of the football, we knew that we had to take some responsibility," Cofield said. "(Against Washington), we knew we had to play some good defense, and we did that for the most part. We created a lot of turnovers, and the offense capitalized."

With Smith, Nicks, and Diehl said to be very close to returning to action, Cofield is looking forward to seeing what the Giants offense does as it inches back toward full strength.

"The way they're playing now without some of the key pieces — I'm excited how well they're going to play when everyone's back," he said.

NOTES

  • QB Eli Manning had 14 pass completions against Washington, his second-lowest total of the season. He had 13 against Indianapolis on Sept. 19.

  • RB Brandon Jacobs had 103 rushing yards against Washington, the 10th career game in which he has hit the century mark. That ties him with Eddie Price for fourth in Giants history. New York is 9-1 in games when Jacobs runs for at least 100 yards.

  • RB Ahmad Bradshaw has seven rushing touchdowns, tying the career high he set last year.

  • TE Travis Beckum's streak of three games with at least one reception ended against Washington, as he didn't have a pass thrown his way.

  • WR Derek Hagan had a game-high and season-high seven catches for 64 yards. He needs five more receiving yards to hit 100 for the season.

  • WR Mario Manningham had 36 receiving yards on two catches, his second-lowest single-game total this season. He had 24 yards on three receptions Nov. 21 against Philadelphia.

  • DE Osi Umenyiora has 9.0 sacks, the third-highest total of his career and the most he's had in a season since 2007, when he finished with 13.0.

  • CB Terrell Thomas' interception on a Donavan McNabb pass was his fifth of the season, tying the career high he set last year.

  • DE Justin Tuck, who had a sack in the game against Washington, now has 8.5 sacks on the year, the third-highest total of his career and the most since he had 12.0 in 2008.

  • RB DJ Ware, who has been the Giants' kick returner the last two games, topped his season long return of 35 yards last week against the Redskins when he took the opening kickoff 37 yards.

  • S Deon Grant has three fumble recoveries this season, one behind team leader Justin Tuck. Grant's last fumble recovery came on Oct. 25 against Dallas.

  • K Lawrence Tynes has not missed a field-goal attempt since Oct. 10, against Houston. Since having QB Sage Rosenfels inserted as his holder in place of P Matt Dodge, Tynes has converted 13 consecutive attempts.

  • LT Shawn Andrews, who has been sidelined with back pain, has improved, according to coach Tom Coughlin, but that there is no change in his status. "He's feeling a little better," the coach said. Barring a dramatic improvement, Andrews will probably not be cleared practice this week.

  • LT David Diehl, who was limited in practice last week, will continue to be brought along. Coughlin said that Diehl, who is recovering from a hip/hamstring issue, would be given a little more to do and that they will assess if he's ready to return to action when the Giants meet Minnesota on Sunday. If Diehl is ready to go, presumably he would go back to his left tackle spot, sending Will Beatty back to the bench.

  • C Shaun O'Hara (foot) still might not be returning to practice this week. Presumably, when O'Hara, who has done some agility work on the side to test his healing foot, is cleared to return, he will start out as limited while working his way back toward being able to handle a full practice load.

  • WR Hakeem Nicks, who is recovering from a procedure on his lower right leg to alleviate symptoms related to compartment syndrome, is hoping to resume working this week. Last week, Nicks said that his goal was to begin running this Wednesday and be back to practicing on Thursday. Coach Tom Coughlin said he was unsure if Nicks has had the stitches from his procedure removed, but added that he didn't think the stitches would be an issue for Nicks as far as him meeting his goal to begin running on Wednesday was concerned.

  • WR Steve Smith (pectoral) will do a little more work this week in practice, according to coach Tom Coughlin. Smith said he hoped to be back on the field for the Giants' Dec. 12 game against Minnesota. Coughlin said that they would see how Smith feels following his gradually increased work load.


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