Bye week comes at perfect time for walking wounded

Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw is tackled by

Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw is tackled by Cleveland Browns middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (52), Craig Robertson (53) and Usama Young (28) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. (Oct. 7, 2012) (Credit: AP)

Coach Tom Coughlin wouldn't admit to any fatigue -- physical or mental -- on the part of his struggling team as it scattered for the bye week. But even without fatigue, 10 weeks of NFL football takes a toll, and there are more than a few key Giants who could use a week to heal bruised and battered bodies.

"Everybody's banged up," said running back Ahmad Bradshaw, whose chronic foot problems have limited him to barely a handful of practices during the last month, even though he's missed only one game. "It's a great week off, very well-needed, very well-used by all of us. It seems like it's every year guys are nicked up by this time."

While there are certainly breakdowns on offense, the overall health of the unit has been a problem. Besides Bradshaw, there's receiver Hakeem Nicks, who missed three games with knee and foot injuries and wasn't in 2011 form in Sunday's 31-13 loss to the Bengals. Plus, linemen Chris Snee is nursing a sprained ankle and David Diehl has missed time with a sprained knee, so the offense's lack of cohesion the past three games can be attributed partially to the lack of good health. "We said from the start that this [the bye in Week 11] was going to be good for us," Snee said. "I think we would have liked a better ending leading up to it, but it's time to heal up and get ready for a tough game when we get back."

There's also a few key players on defense who will benefit from the bye week, most notably safety Kenny Phillips. He practiced the week before the Nov. 4 Steelers game in hopes of returning after suffering a sprained knee against the Eagles on Sept. 30, but the Giants shut Phillips down until after the bye.

In the interim, breakdowns in the secondary have become a problem. "We miss Kenny more than what you realize," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "Kenny is really a good matchup with the tight ends that we've been trying to defend the last couple of weeks, so we miss him in more ways than one."

Safeties coach Dave Merritt said that Phillips promised to be on the practice field next week. Coughlin said Bradshaw will have "every test known to man" Tuesday on his injured foot to see if there are major problems.

But beyond that, rest is the prescription for this hobbled bunch. "I feel like we'll be back stronger than ever," Bradshaw said. "We've been through this before. We all feel the same way."

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