Maybe this is why the Giants want to get away from press coverage: too many injuries to the wide receivers.

Steve Smith had to come off the field with what appeared to be a groin injury today after he went up against Corey Webster in a one-on-one drill early in practice. Webster was up in Smith’s face and there was contact as they came off the line of scrimmage. The went about three yards before Smith pulled up and hopped off the field. He was attended to immediately by the medical staff and will have an MRI on the area tonight.

Smith was able to get back to his feet and walk around (gingerly) and even stood off to the side watching the rest of practice. He did not return to practice, though. He said he did not feel it would be a serious injury. But they never do.

Smith wasn’t the only casualty in the bloodbath. Well, maybe that’s overplaying it a bit. But a few plays after Smith went down tight end Jake Ballard pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury while running a flag route in the same one-on-one drill. I was joking that the medical staff was not nearly as attentive to Ballard as they were to Smith, but they eventually got to him and put ice on his leg and wrapped him up. Receiver Duke Calhoun also had to leave the field with an undisclosed injury, but he came back later and resumed practicing.

Hey, want some good news? Kenny Phillips will return to practice on Monday. What he’ll be able to do is not yet known, but having him come off PUP is a big step. It’ll be his first football action in about 11 months, since the Week 2 game against the Cowboys last season. We’ll keep an eye on that.

As for practice, the team was in full pads for the second straight workout and that meant some hitting. Most of those hits seemed to come against Gartrell Johnson. He was tackled once by Michael Grecco and then on the next play was knocked to the ground by Adrian Tracy. Grecco popped Johnson once more a little later in practice (perhaps Grecco was angry over being called out by safeties coach Dave Merritt earlier in the day). Chris Canty and Adam Koets got in a few shoves during the 9-on-7 running drills. And in the goal line situation at the end of practice Chase Blackburn put some wood on Andre Brown to keep him out of the end zone.

Matt Dodge was working on getting his punts inside the 20. It didn’t look all that great, but compared with the guy who has been doing it the last two years I’ve been on the beat watching, I don’t think anyone would compare. Speaking of Jeff Feagles, he’s here working with Dodge. In fact today one of Zak DeOssie’s snaps sailed over the head of Dodge and went right into the hands of “Coach Feagles.” Jeff didn’t even blink and took off rolling right with the ball looking for an emergency receiver.

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Aaron Ross, who has been looking sharp as a nickel, had a nice interception on a pass by Eli Manning for Hakeem Nicks. Nicks had made some nice catches earlier in the practice. So did Ramses Barden, who was working with the ones, but he also dropped a quick slant that should have been caught.

Ross’ interception was the only one of the practice, but there should have been others. John Busing dropped a pass from Rhett Bomar that hit him square in the chest. “Catch the friggin’ football,” yelled Perry Fewell. Which made me wonder if someone asked Perry to tone down the adult language. He’s been sprinkling some colorful words all over the field this week, but seemed to pull back with the “friggin’”

Clint Sintim also had a nice pass defense dropping back into coverage on Nicks and knocking away a pass from Bomar. And Keith Bulluck almost had an interception. In fact he almost had it about five times, tipping the ball to himself while falling the ground before he and the football ultimately bounced off the turf.

That turf, by the way, is getting chewed up pretty good. When you walk across it there are lots of potholes. In fact on one play tonight Bruce Johnson was covering Derek Hagan on a slant and when he made a move on the ball Johnson tore up a big chunk of grass that had to be stomped down into place.

“You can complain all you want because it’s true,” Coughlin said when one of the writers noted the craters and divots on the field. “I don’t know what happened to this field. I think the north end if better than the south end, but it was flying up.”

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Coughlin did say that the field had nothing to do with the Steve Smith injury.

How did the Giants line up with Rich Seubert and Shaun O’Hara on the shelf? In many different ways. They stared with Adam Koets at center (as he has been since camp began) and Guy Whimper at left guard. Then they brought Mitch Petrus in at left guard and moved Whimper over to right guard to give Chris Snee a spell.

“You’re going to get some different combinations,” Coughlin said.