New York Giants safety Bennett Jackson will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee suffered near the end of Saturday night's preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Head coach Tom Coughlin made the announcement during a Saturday afternoon conference call.
So, why was Jackson still in the game with 3:37 left in the fourth quarter ? That is the question that keeps coming up in both the comments here at Big Blue View and in the @bigblueview Twitter timeline.
Jackson, the second-year player who appeared to have an inside track on one of the Giants' two starting safety spots, was injured on his 56th and final snap of the night. He was making a simple sideline tackle after a completion to Jacksonville tight end Conner Hamlett, when he landed awkwardly.
Sure, in an ideal world a guy who started is not playing 56 snaps in the second preseason game. With 3:37 left in the game you would like to see that player with his helmet off joking on the sideline with teammates as they wait for the final whistle. If you have been paying any attention, though, you know that the Giants living in anything but an ideal world when it comes to the safety position.
The Giants had already lost one safety for the season in the preseason-opening loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, with Mykkele Thompson seeing hsi rookie year end when he tore an Achilles tendon.They entered Saturday short-handed, with Landon Collins (knee), Cooper Taylor (toe) and Nat Berhe (calf) all not in uniform.
The situation become even more dire when undrafted free agent rookie Justin Currie fractured his ankle in the first quarter. Currie, of course, is also lost for the season. That left Jackson, Jeromy Miles, newly-signed veteran Brandon Meriweather and camp body/model/rookie Justin Halley to split the snaps for the remainder of the game.
Miles played 55 snaps, Meriweather 28 less than a week after signing and Halley, with the team for just two weeks, only seven.
It is easy to argue that Jackson should have been out of the game at the end, and maybe that is even right.
Thing is, we aren't talking about Troy Palomalu or Ed Reed here. Or even, dare I say it, Antrel Rolle. We aren't talking about a proven, veteran who didn't need snaps gain experience or learn how to play the position.
We are talking about Bennett Jackson. He is a 2014 sixth-round pick who was drafted as a cornerback, spent 2014 on injured reserve after needing micro-fracture knee surgery on his left knee, is learning a new position he has never played before and has precisely ZERO NFL regular-season snaps worth of experience.
Coughlin and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo obviously felt it was better for Jackson's development, and for the team as a whole, for him to get some extra snaps rather to simply let Halley -- with no chance to make the team -- play out the string at the end of the game. Obviously, the result was disastrous.
Coughlin said Jackson was still playing because "we had very few people left that play the position."
"Just a sad thing to see it happen," Coughlin said.
"Bennett had been a guy that we had grabbed and he worked very, very hard at that job trying to give us another option there. It's just a sad thing to see it happen, because it's difficult. He's tackling a tight end and they get all twisted up on the bottom of a pile. He ends up underneath the tight end, and if you just watch him grimace, it comes when he's on the ground. So I don't know exactly what happened."
So, what do the Giants do now? Obviously, they will have to go back to the market to supplement the position. Perhaps one or more of the players the Giants worked out last week but passed on when they signed Brandon Meriweather will be getting a call.
"It's amazing with the way that's going," Coughlin said Saturday night about the safety position. "We earmarked it as a problem position for us with the safety position and we had two guys hurt tonight in that spot. Hopefully we'll get a couple of guys back to practice that weren't able to play. It's just hard to even comment on."
In a really strange twist, all of the injuries could lead the Giants right back to where many analysts thought they would end up way back in the spring when the offseason program began. That would be with rookie second-round pick Landon Collins and second-year man Nat Berhe ending up as the starters.
Coughlin said that Collins, Berhe and Taylor are all expected to practice this week. The coach also added that the Giants have some decisions to make in terms of adding players to the roster.
Of course, Miles or Meriweather could end up winning the job next to Collins. Whoever the second starting safety is might not even be on the roster yet. At this point, who knows?