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Giants still mixing and matching receivers
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - In a season where they have suffered more season-ending injuries than any other team in the NFL, the New York Giants will face the rival Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) on Sunday with a depleted and devastated receiving corps.
After losing Domenik Hixon to a torn ACL _ his second in two years _ for the season and Mario Manningham to a concussion this week, the Giants (1-1) will have to patch things together to give quarterback Eli Manning some reliable targets for their showdown in Philadelphia.
“We have some different people we can use,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after a practice that saw regular starter Hakeem Nicks paired with second-year player Victor Cruz with the first unit. “We have a few ways we can go.”
Manningham did not practice Friday. He was away from the Timex Performance Center, receiving the mandatory league tests to see if he can be cleared to play Sunday. Since he had not practiced all week and had not received clearance, Manningham is doubtful.
The Giants signed veteran Michael Clayton to replace Hixon, who was placed on injured reserve. Clayton was with the team last year and in training camp before being waived. Clayton was a former No. 1 draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who caught two passes in six games with the Giants in 2010.
Clayton was asked if he could help the team’s plight at wide receiver right away.
“Whatever they need me to do,” Clayton said. “I stayed active and was working out every day. I was anticipating a call. You never know what’s going to happen and you never know how long it’s going to last. I’m just here to play.”
Nicks, the team’s leading receiver with 11 receptions, doesn’t think that there’s any added pressure on him being the lone healthy starting receiver.
“I don’t want to try to do too much,” said Nicks, who was also battling a knee injury last week and into the Giants' 28-16 win over the St. Louis Rams Monday. “I don’t want to overdo anything. I just have to stick to the gameplan and contribute whatever I can to the team. I’m approaching this game like I always do. I think if you look at it that I’m the only one, then it could be a problem. But the other receivers have practiced well and look good.”
Cruz, who was signed as a free agent out of UMass last year, missed all of last season with a knee injury. He has two career receptions for 17 yards. It’s more than likely he’ll get the start against the Eagles.
“I’m definitely going to be more involved in the offense,” Cruz said. “I guess I expected that. I think I’ve had a great week of practice and I’m up for the challenge. I feel comfortable both as a wide out and in the slot and I played both this week in practice. It’s definitely a challenge for me. I just have to be ready. I know my responsibilities are higher and I understand that role. I have to prepare as if I’m going to start.”
“He’s learned the game plan pretty well and knows what to do,” Coughlin said. “We would prefer to have him (in the slot), but he has to play the other spot as well. He can do it.”
Coughlin hinted that rookie Jerrel Jernigan, the team’s third-round draft pick out of Troy, would be activated for Sunday’s game and could also be in the mix.
“It’s a great opportunity for these guys,” Coughlin said.
“I feel like we have the talent to get the job done,” Cruz said. “We’ll be there and we’ll be ready.”
Meanwhile, defensive end Osi Umenyiora will not play Sunday. Umenyiora, recovering from knee surgery, had hoped to return for the critical game against the Eagles. Rookie cornerback Prince Amukamara, recovering from a broken foot, was also declared out.
Center David Baas (lower leg), tight end Travis Beckum (hamstring) and defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy (knee) are probable. Defensive end Justin Tuck did not practice due to a death in his family, but he is expected to play Sunday.
Eagles QB Michael Vick is listed on their injury chart as questionable after suffering a concussion, but Coughlin expects Vick to play. After practice in Philadelphia on Friday, Vick pronounced himself ready.
“I think you have to plan to face him, because he’s practicing,” Coughlin said.
“He’s going to be pretty vulnerable (after the head injury), so we’re going to go after him,” Pierre-Paul said. “We know we’ve had a lot of success in the past against him. We’re going to dominate the line and continue to get after him. If it takes all 11 of us, we’ll get him. I’d rather him stay in the pocket against us than run.
“If he stays in the pocket, he’s in trouble.”
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
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