If ever a team needed some good news, it was the 0-3 Giants Friday. Instead, coach Tom Coughlin's squad received just the opposite when it was learned that veteran offensive linemen Chris Snee and David Baas will not be available to play Sunday in Kansas City.
What's more, David Diehl, who has been limited this week as he recuperates from preseason thumb surgery, is listed as doubtful. That means that Coughlin's team, coming off a 38-0 loss to the Panthers that featured some of the worst play by a Giants offensive line in recent memory, could field a front five that includes three linemen who never started an NFL game before this season. And they will be doing it against an undefeated team playing in front of a passionate partisan crowd.
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"Guys have to step up and perform when they are called upon," said Baas, who has battled knee and neck problems this season.
The challenge, however, is daunting. The Giants surrendered seven sacks last week, and that was with Baas and Snee in the lineup. The blitz-happy Chiefs lead the NFL in sacks with 15 and feature the league's premier pass rusher in linebacker Justin Houston, who has a league-high 71/2 sacks.
Coughlin would not say Friday whom he plans to start on the line or where, and there have been several permutations in practice. The left side of the line should stay the same with Will Beatty at tackle and Kevin Boothe at guard. The rest of the line has a total of five starts, including three by rookie right tackle Justin Pugh. Jim Cordle likely will get his first start, replacing Baas at center, and James Brewer, who got his first start in the season opener when he filled in for Baas, likely will take over for Snee at right guard.
Coughlin has never had to put his trust in such an inexperienced line. The closest was his first year, when Snee won the right guard job as a rookie and Diehl was moved to right tackle in his second season after starting 16 games at right guard as a rookie.
Still, the coach's demeanor was positive, bordering on upbeat, after practice Friday. Coughlin has refused to call this a must-win game, just as he refused to dwell on last Sunday's debacle against the Panthers late this week. Instead, he has walked the fine line of trying to correct things that went wrong during a dismal performance without making his players feel dismal about themselves going into a tough game.
"It's easy to stay down and feel sorry for yourself," he said, "but the difficult thing is to come back and stand up and again be positive and try to inspire people to overcome obstacles that are there. And do it together as one. That's the only trick I know."
Notes & quotes: Cornerback Corey Webster (hip) will miss his second straight game . . . Linebacker Jacquain Williams (knee) is questionable . . . Linebacker Spencer Paysinger (hip), cornerback Terrell Thomas (knee) and defensive lineman Justin Trattou (ankle) are probable.