Prince Amukamara, the oft-injured cornerback and last year's first-round pick, appears ready to make his 2012 debut. After expressing optimism about playing against the Bucs but being listed as inactive, Amukamara is probable in the team's final injury report, which means there is a "virtual certainty" that he will play.
"I've been preparing like I'm going to play this week," Amukamara said. "I've been in the meetings and I've been in the lineup [taking reps with the starters at practice]. Those are all good signs to me."
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Amukamara said he is still feeling some pain from the high ankle sprain he suffered in the preseason, and said he's been told that will likely linger for a while. "But as long as I'm able to do what I have to do, then I should be out there," he said.
LB Keith Rivers (hamstring) and RB Da'Rel Scott (knee) are also listed as probable. CB Michael Coe (hamstring), who started one game for Amukamara and played significantly in both games, is listed as questionable.
Hakeem Nicks won't get to enjoy his homecoming, but a couple of other North Carolina products will. Andre Brown, who grew up in Greenville, N.C., and played at N.C. State, is expected to start at running back for the injured Ahmad Bradshaw. And defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who played at North Carolina, could see his first NFL action against the Panthers.
Austin was active and in uniform last Sunday against the Bucs but did not get on the field. "You got on the body armor, but you can't go into battle," he said.
That might change tonight. "It should be a good way to go down there and come back to the state of North Carolina," he said. "I like Big Blue."
Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart, who ran for 51 yards on 11 carries against the Saints Sunday, was listed as doubtful by the Panthers. He is listed with an ankle injury but Panthers coach Ron Rivera said "it's more of a thing where the toe's connected to the ankle." . . . The Giants are 48-34-5 in road openers with the second most wins in NFL history (Green Bay, which has its road opener on Sunday, has 53) . . . Besides the four offensive players ruled out for the Giants, rookie DE Adewale Ojomo (hamstring) was also ruled out.