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Giants vs. Rams: Cornerback depth a concern for Giants

Jenkins suspension, Deayon injury could leave Giants thin at that spot

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

With the suspension of Janoris Jenkins and the need to protect themselves at defensive end with Olivier Vernon and Kerry Wynn not practicing this week due to injuries, the New York Giants have only four cornerbacks on their active roster.

In many defensive packages, of course, three corners are on the field at the same time. With Donte Deayon (ankle) popping up on the injury report Thursday, what will the Giants do if they are down another corner Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams?

“I got a couple of plays in me,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo joked on Thursday.

Seriously, though, what would the Giants do if Deayon is unable to play? Spagnuolo really didn’t offer a plan, saying only “that’s an interesting one.”

“We’re going to need all four corners. We’re going to need them on special teams. We’re going to need them to play coverage-wise especially when you get to third down,” Spagnuolo said.

The Giants do have cornerback Tom Scott, a rookie out of North Carolina who joined them late in the preseason, on the practice squad.

Here are some of the other takeaways from Spagnuolo’a Thursday meeting with reporters.

Praising Ross Cockrell

The Giants acquired cornerback Ross Cockrell from the Pittsburgh Steelers right before the start of the regular season. He has become a solid contributor, and Spagnuolo has been impressed.

“Ross (Cockrell) has done a nice job moving inside. If I can talk about Ross Cockrell for a second. He comes in. Help me out, I know it was after we were into the season somewhere along the way or right at the 53. I can’t remember exactly. We didn’t have him in OTA’s. You don’t have him in training camp. That’s difficult for a player to do, but he has done a great job picking up our system, playing outside when we’ve asked him to, which is really where he’s been and then moving inside and doing things that we needed him to do in there and I think Tim Walton and Ross have done a great job getting himself ready to be an inside player, which is not a natural position for him.”

On improved play by Eli Apple

“Even when you all ask, would ask, because he was struggling and had a couple bad plays here and there. I still thought – I would always go to the plays that I thought he was doing really well where you don’t notice it because it takes somebody out of the play. But, he’s a solid player. Look, he’s got size, speed. He’s got all natural ability and I think he’s a focused football player now. He’s always been a really good tackler. Maybe confidence, you know, a couple plays and I forget which game but I remember one game saying, ‘That’s the best game he’s played.’ I don’t know if it was this past one or the one before, but just if he can build on it and stack good plays, guys get confidence.”

On the overall play of the defense

“Right now, it just doesn’t feel like we have been in sync. The only game I think we’ve had all the pieces, quote unquote, together – and even then, I think [linebacker] Keenan [Robinson] was hurt in the Dallas game – was the first game. That was the closest we were. And it’s been, we gain a couple guys and we lose a couple, gain a couple. So, it’s a little bit out of sync, that’s tough. You’re talking about your signal callers, [linebacker] B.J [Goodson] is not in there now, that’s the guy in the center of the defense that does a lot of the talking. So, we’ve got to get somebody else in there, different voice, different ways. So, that’s been the most frustrating part. And yet, all that aside, you’ve got to go out and just play defensive football. That’s flying around, tackling people, being relentless and doing what we do, So, hopefully we can get back to where we were.”

On giving up TDs to tight ends in eight straight games

“There are different ways to look at it. Does that mean we’re taking away what’s going on outside and they have to throw it inside? Does that mean there’s a weakness inside? I don’t know. I don’t remember what downs and distances those were, but it’s hard sometimes to say that you’re going to take away a tight end and not weaken yourself somewhere else whether it is in the run game or somewhere else. I don’t know what we were in. I remember certain ones, but not all of them. But we have to do some other different things and we have installed those to help us a little bit.”