Tom Coughlin expressed disappointment and sadness yesterday when he announced that safety Stevie Brown tore his left ACL in Saturday night's game against the Jets.
The second-year Giant emerged from obscurity last season to lead the team with eight interceptions and was poised to play a big role in the secondary again this season. It is a difficult loss for the defense and a personal loss inside the locker room, where Brown was a popular player.
"We'll definitely miss him," Coughlin said. "But we continue. That's what we do."
With less than two weeks remaining until the regular-season opener and Brown gone for the season -- he was placed on injured reserve as the team trimmed its roster from 90 to 75 players -- the Giants already have seen both of their starting safeties sidelined with injuries. Now it looks as though the guy who replaced one of them will have to replace the other.
Antrel Rolle will return to practice this week, two weeks after spraining his ankle. Veteran Ryan Mundy stepped in for Rolle during his absence, and with Rolle back, it will be Mundy's job to step in for Brown.
"Ryan has played well and he's certainly proven that he can be physical and be down in the box and that type of thing," Coughlin said.
Behind them, though, is a depth chart with a whole lot of question marks. The Giants are excited about Will Hill, but he'll miss the first four games of the season serving a suspension for violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.
"While we acknowledge what he brings to the table, we certainly can't be lured into thinking that we're OK in any way, shape or form because he's not going to be here," Coughlin said. "And that's a shame."
Coughlin said he'd like to get a better look at rookie Cooper Taylor, the fourth-round pick who has missed about half of training camp with a hamstring injury. The Giants also have third-year player Tyler Sash, but Coughlin made it sound as if he still is very much unproven in the eyes of the coaching staff.
"We're still in preseason, and he certainly is going to get a lot of playing time [against the Patriots]," Coughlin said. "Quite frankly, it's really up to the production."
The Giants have other options as well. The Giants toyed with the idea of moving Terrell Thomas to safety if his speed was not up to cornerback standards upon his return from a third ACL reconstruction, but he's played cornerback exclusively this preseason and Coughlin has been resistant to moving him. Aaron Ross also has played some safety during his previous years with the Giants.
Besides Brown, the news in the secondary is improving and it looks as if all of the previously injured are on track to return in time for the Sept. 8 game in Dallas.
Like Rolle, Corey Webster -- who has missed time with groin and knee injuries -- is expected to return to practice this week. Coughlin said Jayron Hosley's ankle injury, which also occurred Saturday against the Jets, should not sideline him long.
"Let's get these guys back on the field and see where we are," Coughlin said. "We've just got to get the people out there and get the right combination here . . . We do have one more preseason game. Let's play that and then we'll make some decisions about what we're going to do going forward."