Giants literally limping to the finish

Andre Brown dives for extra yards after being

Andre Brown dives for extra yards after being tackled by Louis Delmas #26 of the Detroit Lions during a second-quarter run at Ford Field. (Dec. 22, 2013) (Credit: Getty)

Maybe it's a good thing the Giants won't be in the playoffs. They might not be able to field a team beyond this week.

As the Giants come limping across the finish line, eight players could be injured and unable to play in the regular-season finale Sunday against the Redskins. Besides the five who missed this past Sunday's overtime win over the Lions with various ailments -- Victor Cruz, Jason Pierre-Paul, David Diehl, Peyton Hillis and Cooper Taylor -- the Giants might find themselves without the services of Andre Brown, Adrien Robinson and Brandon Mosley, all of whom were injured against the Lions.

And because of salary-cap concerns, the Giants can afford to put only one of those players on injured reserve and replace him with a practice-squadder or free agent without restructuring someone's contract.

All of which means the Giants will be exceedingly shorthanded in practices this week, and maybe even in the game. NFL teams need to activate 46 players on game days. The Giants could have trouble reaching that number.

"Naturally, I'm concerned," Tom Coughlin said Monday.

The two most pressing areas seem to be running back and offensive line. Brown left Sunday's game in overtime after suffering a concussion, and although he appeared fine after the game, he still must go through the NFL's protocol on such matters. If Brown is unable to play, the Giants could be left with one able-bodied running back, rookie Michael Cox.

After Cox? Well, it could be fullback John Conner. Or it could be tight end Bear Pascoe, who was pressed into action for an overtime carry (for 2 yards) against the Lions, the first of his career.

"The last time I carried the ball was back in the early 2000s and I was playing quarterback for Granite Hills High School [in Porterville, Calif.]," Pascoe said. "We would run the triple veer, so that was the last time I carried the ball."

Pascoe, who was in as a pass-protecting running back on the pivotal fourth-and-7 conversion in overtime, took the handoff after Jerrel Jernigan's catch because the Giants wanted to snap the ball quickly to avoid a potential video review.

"I was thinking they were going to send somebody in from the sideline real quick," Pascoe said. "But we were in such a hurry-up, Eli just turned around and said, 'Hey, run it right there.' My main thought was, don't lose the ball, just get it and get as much as we can."

Meanwhile, Mosley got the first start of his career at right guard but couldn't make it out of the first quarter without breaking his hand. He was available for emergency duty against the Lions after a cast was placed on it, but Coughlin said he'd rather not use him against the Redskins. That likely means that Dallas Reynolds will get the start after a strong performance in relief of Mosley, who himself was starting in relief of Diehl, whose knee might not let him play what could be the last game of his Giants career.

The Giants practiced Wednesday without 10 of their players. By the end of the week, five of their seven inactive players were out because of injury. Only rookie quarterback Ryan Nassib and linebacker Allen Bradford sat because of football decisions, not medical ones.

Even with those numbers, the Giants seemed to have more players than they needed. Linebacker Keith Rivers didn't play a single defensive snap and cornerback Terrell Thomas played only one.

Finding 11 healthy players to take the field for each snap against the Redskins shouldn't be an issue. But there could be some gerrymandering of positions -- the kind that have defined Pascoe's career -- to get them to fit.

Notes & quotes: Coughlin said Cox's 56-yard kickoff return from 7 yards deep in the end zone was a gamble. "I think he was anxious to contribute and he did," Coughlin said. "If he doesn't get to the 20-yard line, we're all over him. And when he gets to the 49, we're cheering." . . . Coughlin gave the players Monday and Tuesday off to celebrate Christmas with their families. They're due back Wednesday at noon for the first practice of the week. The coaches will work on the Redskins game plan through the holiday.

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