Will Tye began the season on the Giants' practice squad. This week he'll be much more than that.

"We feel like he's got to be the guy," Tom Coughlin said of the rookie tight end from Stony Brook University.

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Of course, there aren't many other choices. Starter Larry Donnell is sidelined with a neck and shoulder injury sustained Sunday in New Orleans, and Coughlin said he'll be week-to-week in his recovery. That leaves Tye as the only tight end on the active roster.

The Giants do have two other tight ends on the practice squad - Jerome Cunningham and the recently signed Matt LaCosse - and it's almost certain one of them will be bumped up to the 53-man roster for the game against the Bucs on Sunday.

Tye, though, seems to be the next man up as the starting tight end. He's played in five games since making his debut on Oct. 4 in Buffalo and also becoming the first Stony Brook player to appear in an NFL game. He has caught eight passes for 77 yards, including two against the Saints. He also fumbled in that game.

"He's improving," Coughlin said of Tye. "He's done a nice job. He's played well when he's had the opportunity and obviously he got a lot of plays last week in New Orleans. He's come along and he improves every week, and that's what we're counting on."