The New York Giants might have a difficult time regaining their winning swagger Sunday against the Cleveland Browns as the team copes with significant injuries to the receiving and secondary units.
New York listed receiver Hakeem Nicks out for the third straight game and his return to the field is still mired in doubt. Initially Nicks was pulled from the line-up for a sore right foot in the first two games, but now his knee has been added to the injury report.
In their blowout of Carolina in Week Four, New York made due without Nicks, as receiver Ramses Barden stepped up with the best game of his career making nine receptions for 138 yards.
Barden equaled his total catches in 2011 against the Panthers, but the Giants will have to find another answer as he too has been ruled out Sunday with concussion symptoms.
Receivers Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan are next up on New York’s depth chart for the third receiver spot, but Randle has only one reception for four yards this season, and Jernigan has yet to see the field.
Along with Nicks and Barden, safety Kenny Phillips, defensive tackle Rocky Bernard, and cornerback Jayron Hosley were all listed as out.
The absence of Phillips and Hosley could leave New York’s secondary even thinner, with safety Antrel Rolle and cornerback Corey Webster listed as questionable.
Webster told the New York Post he will be ready Sunday, and while Rolle said he would be “good”, he sat out of practice Thursday with swelling in his left knee.
That could spell trouble for the Giants, who have the 14th ranked pass defense in the NFL, allowing 254.0 passing yards per game, and are tied for fourth in the league with six interceptions.
Cornerbacks Michael Coe and Prince Amukamara will fill in for the ailing Giants. Coe makes his return after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury, while Amukamara will make his third consecutive start of the season after only appearing in seven games in 2011.
Betting Odds: New York is favored by 9 points.
Over/Under: 44 points
Predictions: If Webster and Rolle stay true to their word, New York’s secondary might quell the injury storm against Cleveland, which ranks only 20th in passing offense. Also look for quarterback Eli Manning to target receivers Victor Cruz and Domenick Hixon, and tight end Martellus Bennett more.