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Justin Tuck's State Of Mind Another Problem For Giants' Defense

New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora won't play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, according to a published report. The report says Umenyiora's ankle is "real bad," and that he could miss 2-4 weeks.

That is bad enough for a reeling team. Whatever is going on with the Giants other Pro Bowl defensive end -- Justin Tuck -- also has to be alarming.

It has been obvious all season that Tuck's body has not been right. He has had neck, groin, ankle and shoulder injuries. He has only two sacks and 19 tackles in the six games he has played.

It is also pretty obvious Tuck's mind is not right. In the past Tuck, the Giants defensive captain, has talked about not being able to lead if he wasn't 100 percent physically. This season former teammates have questioned him when he has skipped games, Tuck himself has questioned whether or not his playing at less than his best helps the Giants and he has admitted that he has been playing cautiously to avoid further injury.

Now, there is this quote from Tuck, about 1:30 into this WFAN podcast:

"I don't think we've lost any faith, but it's tough to go in every day and say my hard work is going to pay off."

What? The subsequent, incredulous, reaction from Boomer & Carton was well justified. Craig Carton called it an "amazing statement," and he is absolutely right.

This is the guy who is supposed to be leading the Giants' defense? What sort of leadership is that, questioning whether or not working hard will pay off?

It's no wonder the Giants defense looked lost -- or leader-less -- on Sunday night. Apparently it does not have a leader. How can you play with passion, with emotion, with belief when your supposed leader and best player is questioning whether he belongs on the field, and saying publicly that he wonders if working hard is worth the effort?

Coach Tom Coughlin continues to try and send a positive message to his team, continues to remind them of the good things they have done this season. Players like Antrel Rolle, love his verbocity or hate it, continue to try and rally the team and espouse the belief that they can still get things right this season.

And they can. They won't, though, if they don't believe they can. And when a "leader" like Tuck questions whether the hard work is worth it, that does not help.