One of the reasons why the Giants bulked up in the middle of their defensive line this offseason was to stop running backs such as the Eagles' LeSean McCoy. The irony is that they might face McCoy on Sunday without their full allotment of beefy tackles.
Neither of the starters has practiced this week. Linval Joseph (ankle) is in a protective boot and Cullen Jenkins (knee/Achilles) said he'll likely be a game-time decision. That could leave the job of trying to stop the NFL's top rusher to a pair of vets who have been part-time players until now -- Shaun Rogers and Mike Patterson -- and rookie Johnathan Hankins, who hasn't even played in a regular-season game.
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"I don't think they would have us here if they didn't think we could play," Rogers said. In fact, when he was asked if there would be any drop-off with the backups starting, he laughed. "That's funny," he said. "Why would I not be confident in myself? Those are semi-insulting questions."
Perhaps the most intriguing replacement will be Hankins, the second-round pick from Ohio State who has yet to play. "He's been sitting back patiently waiting his turn," Jenkins said.
CB Corey Webster (groin) was limited Wednesday but did not practice Thursday. Neither did CBs Aaron Ross (back) or Jayron Hosley (hamstring). That could leave Trumaine McBride as the starting cornerback, although Fewell said Terrell Thomas could slide from the slot to outside coverage . . . Rogers (back), Thomas (knee) and LB Mark Herzlich (toe) all returned to practice after missing Wednesday . . . Fewell said he is not surprised Jason Pierre-Paul has struggled since returning from back surgery. "I think everybody's expectation level was so high that he would come back and be Superman," Fewell said. "But obviously a player has to work himself back into shape."
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride asked and answered his own question on Thursday when the subject of his underperforming unit was brought up.
"Is it miserable?" he said, interrupting the question from the media. "Yes."
He used the same word again - "miserable" - later in the interview to describe his mood.
"You work 80 to 100 hours a week trying to put together a plan that gives your guys a chance to be successful and then, more importantly, you work with them to help them out on the field and through the meetings," he said. "When things don't work well, it's very disappointing."