[UPDATE: A great look at Tim Brown today in the Wall Street Journal. Yes, the Wall Street Journal -- which now covers New York sports. ]
We have discussed the putrid state of the New York Giants return game -- especially kickoff returns -- on a number of occasions.
Well, Saturday night against the Baltimore Ravens injury could equal opportunity for one Giant who might be able to help in that regard -- diminutive speedster Tim Brown.
D.J. Ware won't play due to the concussion he suffered last week. Andre Brown has yet to impress returning kickoffs. Aaron Ross looks like the primary punt returner, but he is shelved for the rest of preseason. As impressive as Victor Cruz has been catching passes, he has been equally umimpressive in two preseason games returning kicks.
Enter Brown, who is likely to get a chance Saturday night to show whether or not he might be able to inject some life into the Giants' return game.
"I'd like to see him take off with the ball as a returner," Tom Coughlin said Wednesday.
When I talked to Brown during training camp at the University at Albany, where he was very impressive prior to suffering hamstring and groin injuries, Brown was just hoping to earn a chance.
"I'm just waiting on my chance, my opportunity," he said at the time. "If he [coach] really wants me back there he's going to put me back there.
"I feel like I'm going to be able to help at anything the coach puts me at. He wants me to block, then I'll get in and block. I'm waiting on an opportunity to show coach I can do things."
The 5-foot-7, 165-pound speedster would seem like a natural for return duty, yet his collegiate experience in that role at Rutgers was limited. As a sophomore at Rutgers he returned seven punts for just four yards and ran back 15 kickoffs, with a long return of 38 yards. The past two seasons he returned a total of just eight kickoffs.
Still, the Giants would be doing themselves a disservice if they did not use the next two games to get a good look at whether Brown and his 4.3 40-yard dash speed can jump-start the team's seemingly stuck in neutral return game.
Tear or no tear? Antrel Rolle says Ross has a partial tear of his plantar fascia. Coughlin says that is not the case, but the Ross will be in a boot for the next 10 days or so, and won't be available until the season opener.
So, which is it? Fact is, it probably doesn't matter. What matters is that when Ross comes back he is going to have to deal with playing in some discomfort. Rolle, who played with a torn plantar fascia with the Cardinals in 2009, knows all about what Ross will go through.
"It's going to be something that he's going to have to deal with for a long time," rolle said. "It's a matter of how much pain you can take while playing."
Eli Manning wore a helmet Wednesday for the first time since requiring 12 stitches. The Giants' offense has spent very little time working together as a whole thus far, but Manning expressed confidence that the unit will be fine.
"I don't think we're far behind. Actually, we're not behind at all," Manning said. "It's the third preseason game, and we go out there and try to play well. Guys are coming back healthy, and I think that's a part of training camp every year, guys go in and out a little bit. I think we have a veteran group, especially up front. Receivers are getting better, and they've been pretty healthy throughout training camp. I think we're in good shape, we are getting guys back healthy right now, which is probably the most important thing."
Backup quarterback Jim Sorgi admitted Wednesday that despite having been in the league for six seasons, he is worried that his shoulder injury could end up costing him a roster.
"I've got to give them more to look at so I can help them make the decision. In my mind, I feel like I've got to play. I've got to play next week," Sorgi said. "I mean I'm still worried about that decision a little bit. You don't have much time left until you've got to make tough decisions in the league. I've seen those decisions go in the player's favor and not in the player's favor. So I'm just going to try to get out there and just make the decision hopefully a little easier on them and hopefully in my favor."
The fact that Sorgi still can't lift his arm high enough to throw a football is not encouraging for him at this point.
Players missing practice Wednesday included cornerbacks Terrell Thomas (calf) and Ross (foot), defensive linemen Chris Canty and Jason Pierre-Paul (both with sore groins), quarterback Jim Sorgi (shoulder), safety Michael Johnson and wide receiver Ramses Barden (back), running back Ware and safety Sha'reff Rashad (both with concussions), tight end Travis Beckum (neck) and linebacker Chase Blackburn (knee).
"I'm not worried. The diagnosis was good and they said there's no nerve damage, and no threat of nerve damage as long as I take the proper precautions on the front end, which is what we're doing right now," Barden said. "I want to get back out there and, before the season starts, get the rhythm back and get that chemistry going again with the rest of the offense."
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