Beggars can't be chooser, and with 10 injured New York Giants' players missing practice on Wednesday head coach Tom Coughlin will give a set of shoulder pads to just about anyone who shows up on Thursday.
"You want to roll the dice?" he said when asked which players might return to work Thursday. "Yeah, anybody that comes through the door, we'll be more than happy to wrap our arms around."
With the possibility of two more offensive linemen (David Diehl and James Brewer) being unable to play Sunday, Coughlin was asked if sitting quarterback Eli Manning, simply to keep him from absorbing more pounding than he has already taken this season, was a consideration.
"Matter of fact, we've talked about this," Coughlin said. "He wants to play and he's looking forward to playing and competing and having a better game. I wouldn't expect anything different."
Manning has been sacked a career-high 36 times this season while tying his career-worst with 25 interceptions. As he has at other times, Coughlin said the Giants' offensive woes are not entirely the quarterback's fault. The giants are 30th in the NFL in points per game at 17.9.
"No one person loses football games. It takes a team to win and a team to lose and so the issues that we have are the issues that we have," Coughlin said. "First, it's the head coach, blame me, that's my job. I feel badly for Eli that he has to stand up and answer things of this nature, but it's understandable where it comes from, the quarterback and the head coach. Is it all his fault? No, of course not."
If he can't play Sunday, perhaps the most unfortunate injury of all is to Jerrel Jernigan. He missed practice with a knee injury after catching a career-high seven passes and returning three kickoffs for 74 yards.
"His toughness was outstanding the other day," Coughlin said. "Even running his kickoffs up in there, he barreled up in there and got knocked around from sthe Giants ide to side, spun around and then the play he made late where (safety Kam) Chancellor came and stuck him and he spun out of that and kept going. I was inspired by that."
"I expect us to compete like heck. I don't think that, the noise is not going to be the issue. We've got to regroup and compete like heck and play much better and do a better job in protecting the quarterback," Coughlin said. "We can't have anything like the first three snaps of the game the other day. We do obviously have to have some balance and be able to run a little bit against a very good defensive team. But I expect us to prepare well and to go up there with the idea of competing and doing the best we possibly can, finding a way to win."
Coughlin said whether or not Giants' players give their best efforts the final two weeks "says a lot about people."
"It talks about responsibility and accountability, competitiveness, believing in each other, really understanding what your team is all about. You've got to have the passion and the character to fight on," Coughlin said. "That's what you signed up for, that's what this game is all about, is playing as hard as you can possibly play. Pride gets involved, the name on the front of your shirt being more important than the name on your back."