Over the next day or so, a parade of cornerbacks can be expected to file through the Giants’ Timex Performance Center looking for jobs.
But the ranks of the unemployed — which could include former Eagle Lito Sheppard, former Colt Kelvin Hayden and former Falcon Brian Williams, among others — need to know one thing.
If they expect to replace Terrell Thomas and Brian Witherspoon — the two cornerbacks who will soon undergo season-ending surgery for the torn ACLs they suffered Monday against the Bears — they’ll have to do it quickly.
“Regardless of who it is, we’ve got two short weeks and we’re lining up to play,” coach Tom Coughlin said yesterday as he looked ahead to the final two preseason games with the Jets and Patriots. “So it’s going to have to happen fast, no matter who it is.”
The two injuries — compounded by the fact that second-round rookie defensive tackle Marvin Austin also departed for the season with a torn left pectoral muscle — have left the Giants with five healthy cornerbacks. Unfortunately, only starter Corey Webster and former first-rounder Aaron Ross have any experience.
Michael Coe, who saw only four games of special-teams action last year, is next in line, ahead of first-year player Joe Burnett and undrafted rookie Darnell Burks.
Complicating matters is the fact that the Giants only want players who will sign for the veteran minimum, given their $2.5 million of salary-cap space. And that could scare some prospective veterans away.
Since the beginning of training camp, they’ve lost four cornerbacks in Bruce Johnson (Achilles), first-rounder Prince Amukamara (foot), Thomas and Witherspoon. And with only Amukamara slated to return some six to eight weeks from now, depth has become a real worry.
The Giants need bodies just so they can line up and play. Moving Antrel Rolle from safety to cornerback, where the Cardinals originally drafted him, is not an option, according to Coughlin. A trade for a quality cornerback is a longshot at this point.
But the Giants have to find somebody.
“These things happen and you’ve got to deal with it,” Coughlin said. “That’s all there is to it. You move on, and you have to be disciplined enough to do it.”