The New York Giants could be without several key defensive players on Sunday when they host the San Francisco 49ers. Linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring), defensive end Robert Ayers (hamstring), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (calf), and defensive end George Selvie (calf) were among those who did not practice for the Giants on Thursday.
Did Not Practice
DE Robert Ayers (hamstring)
LB Jonathan Casillas (calf)
WR Victor Cruz (calf)
CB Jayron Hosley (concussion)
LB Devon Kennard (hamstring)
DE George Selvie
CB Trumaine McBride (groin)
If Kennard, the team's best linebacker, and Ayers, the best pass rusher among the defensive ends are unable to play the Giants would be missing two of their most dynamic defensive players. Casillas has been emerging as a solid player on defense, especially on passing downs. Selvie is part of the defensive end rotation, especially against the run.
If Kennard and Casillas are both unable to play, the Giants would have only Jon Beason, J.T. Thomas, Uani 'Unga, Mark Herzlich and Jasper Brinkley as healthy linebackers.
"We have linebackers. We'll be OK there," said head coach Tom Coughlin.
Cruz continued to work inside to rehab his calf, although Coughlin admitted Cruz is "not doing much."
Here are some other takeaways from Coughlin's Thursday press briefing.
On the disparity between the team's run and pass defense
"Well, we've got to get better, obviously, in the one that you're referring to as not being that good. And I think we will get better. In the meantime, if we can stop the run and then our pressure on the quarterback continues to build, we'll get better in the secondary as well."
On the next step for the Giants
"There's plenty of next steps, believe me. But the next step is the continuation to execute well, the continuation to play well together, to understand the opponent. The one thing that we did a good job was going into a hostile environment with an electric personality in the stadium and lining up and performing right away. It didn't take us long to get going. So I was pleased with that. We can grow from that as well."
1-3 49ers are "desperate"
"If you look at the Green Bay tape, they're there twice. They're right at the goal line and they misfire and they have a ball that should have been caught in the endzone, they have sacks, and they back out of there. But they're there, and they do a nice job defending Green Bay and causing some issues with the quarterback and so on and so forth. So they played very well in that game, they didn't win. A play here or a play there and they are in position at home to win. So you do have to be aware of those things, but I don't pay any attention to that. They're 1-3 and they're desperate to win. And we're desperate to win."
About DE Kerry Wynn
"You know, I really like his motor. He plays hard, the kid plays hard. And he's in the right spot and he's smart. He's a tough guy."
Asked about Wynn being quiet, Coughlin said "I like them like that." When his solid run defense was mentioned, Coughlin said "I like them like that, too."
On how unique Nikita Whitlock is
Coughlin said "not at this level" when asked if he has ever coached a player like Whitlock.
"He came from that defensive line temperament. He got into the league, primarily for us—for me anyway, somebody may argue, as a special teamer. And then as a fullback, he grew and learned and he was physical and that type of thing. He's got all those aspects to fall back on. We started to use him in the capacity you're referring to as a pass rusher, basically. His quickness has been his forte."
Coughlin was asked if it is a "hard sell" to convince him to use Whitlock on defense.
"Not if he makes plays. I'm good with that, I like play makers," Coughlin said.