This time, Giants are at full strength in the secondary

Justin Tryon downs the ball after a punt

Justin Tryon downs the ball after a punt against the Washington Redskins during their game at MetLife Stadium. (Oct. 21, 2012) (Credit: Getty)

Justin Tryon is a sixth-year cornerback in the NFL, a feisty player, a solid pro who can give a team like the Giants a good spark on special teams and provide some depth on defense if it's needed.

He is not, however, the player one would want guarding Miles Austin in the end zone as the game-clinching touchdown pass is spiraling toward them.

Yet there he was, in just that position, when the Giants lost to the Cowboys, 24-17, in the opening game of the season.

If the Giants have it their way Sunday in the rematch against the Cowboys, a game with divisional implications, Tryon will not get any defensive snaps. Tryon would be fine with that, too. Not because of a lack of confidence, but for a surplus of continuity.

"That's OK," he said of his possible lack of playing time in the secondary. "A lot of guys are playing good right now and it's a long season. We're all happy here."

They weren't happy -- or healthy -- in the opener, and that was a big reason why the Cowboys were able to put up some audacious numbers in the win. Michael Coe had his first career start at cornerback in that game, filling in for injured Prince Amukamara (filling in for an injured Terrell Thomas). Then Coe had to leave the game and Tryon came in, yielding several quick slants and that 34-yard touchdown pass to Austin in the fourth quarter. Essentially, Tryon was the Giants' sixth and final option at corner.

But in the last three games, the Giants' secondary has gone from scrambled to sunny-side up. "I think we're much more settled," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "We labored a little bit in that first ballgame in terms of healthy bodies."

They have played 189 defensive snaps in those three games and did not have their starting four defensive backs -- Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, Corey Webster and Amukamara -- on the field at the same time for just five of those snaps. All five came against the 49ers, a game in which the Giants tried some funky alignments.

Rookie Jayron Hosley has improved weekly as the nickel back. And that means players such as Coe and Tryon are making their contributions by covering punts and kickoffs.

On Sunday, at Cowboys Stadium, the secondary will get its second chance. "You always like to go to war with all your troops, but you know, the situation we had, we couldn't do that at the beginning of the season," Webster said. "Now we're getting guys coming back . . . Everybody's getting a little more healthy. Hopefully, that can help us going into Sunday's game."

Even Tony Romo recognizes the changes. "They've gotten better," he said of the Giants' pass defense. "They're doing some stuff that can give you some trouble if you're not prepared for it. We're looking into some stuff we're going to try and do in order to match up. It'll be a good test for us."

The Giants allowed three pass completions of at least 34 yards against the Cowboys in Week 1. In the six games since, they have allowed just six more. They gave up three touchdown receptions to the Cowboys. In the six games since, they have allowed seven. Romo still is the only opposing quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards against the Giants this year.

"We [have a] better understanding of everybody's role and position in the defense," Rolle said of the secondary, "and I think we're going to be pretty effective in what we try to do,"

Webster doesn't think the Giants will regress: [The Cowboys loss] was the first game of the season. We took a lot of things from then; we learned from it. I think we corrected a lot of the problems we had in the first game, so this will be another great opportunity for us. Everybody here knows what's at stake . . . "

Notes: Safety Kenny Phillips (knee) and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard (quad) were downgraded to out and did not make the trip.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

NFL videos

Vote

Will Eli Manning be ready to start the season?

Yes No Who cares? Start someone else!

advertisement | advertise on newsday