Eli Manning and Hakeem Nicks have played in 54 games together. In 53 of those they connected for at least one completion. On Sunday against the Ravens, they did not.
It was the first time the combination did not click, and Manning said on Monday that it had more to do with the trend of the entire season than that game in particular. Nicks has been dealing with foot and knee issues since OTAs in the spring and Manning said that the chemistry between them has suffered from it.
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"It can be tough," Manning said. "I love Hakeem and the way he competes. He's doing everything he can to be out there and he's obviously dealing with a frustrating issue that's limiting him a little bit He missed most of training camp, all of the offseason, so you don't get that rep time. We don't get practice reps. He gets a few reps so it's not quite at full speed so the timing is off on some things. It can make it hard to be as effective as you need to be and be on the perfect timing that is required to be really successful."
Nicks has caught more passes from Manning than any other player, surpassing Plaxico Burress as the alpha target earlier this season. But on Sunday, Nicks was thrown to just three times and did not catch any of the passes. He was on the field for 34 snaps.
After the game, Nicks was clearly frustrated. "I don't even want to talk about it," he said before asking to be excused from the interview.
Chris Canty sprains MCL
Defensive tackle Chris Canty, who had six tackles including two for a loss, sprained his MCL in the game according to Tom Coughlin. "We'll have to see how he responds," Coughlin said on a conference call on Monday, the day after a 33-14 loss in Baltimore.
Canty missed the first half of the season on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) recovering from offseason knee surgery. His return added depth to the Giants' defensive line and he was playing his best game of the year against the Ravens. He only managed to be on the field for 24 snaps, though, before being injured just before the two-minute warning in the first half. When he came to the sideline he flung his helmet in frustration and disgust.
Coughlin said on Sunday night that some nicked-up players would probably sit out the Week 17 finale even though the Giants still have a mathematical - though far-fetched -- chance at the playoffs.
Another Giant who is playing with a sprained MCL is running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Coughlin was hopeful that he did not suffer any setbacks in the game.
The Giants may get one last look at Michael Vick in an Eagles uniform after all. With backup-turned-starter Nick Foles breaking his hand on Sunday, the Eagles will likely give the quarterback job back to Vick after talking it away from him earlier this season. It is widely assumed that this will be the last game for both Vick and Eagles coach Andy Reid for Philadelphia.
"It changes the nature of how you have to prepare," Coughlin said of having to get ready for Vick, who has had tremendous success against the Giants. "Obviously for the two quarterbacks there's a different scenario in terms of how you prepare. If that's the case, then we will focus on Michael Vick."
Boley limited in new scheme
Coughlin explained the use of a 4-4-3 defense against the Ravens as "an attempt to have something more to say about the run, which obviously didn't factor in." The Giants lined up four linebackers, but the least-used of them was Michael Boley. "It was not necessarily a health thing," Coughlin said of Boley's 21 snaps. "It had been a cumulative health thing. He had been, was having some (back) issues for a couple or three weeks that we felt were not allowing him to play the way he was capable of playing and that's the reason we went into the game with these different personnel combinations."