The Giants have been winning with new faces in key spots. But if all goes well until the end of the week, those days may be coming to an end.
Wide receiver Steve Smith, out four games with a partially torn pectoral muscle, returned to practice last week could start Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings. And offensive lineman David Diehl, out four games with a hip and hamstring injury, may also return if his first crack at heavy practice goes well.
That means the end of second-year lineman Will Beatty at left tackle and journeyman Derek Hagan as a primary receiving target.
The newer faces, which also include special teamer Devin Thomas and receiver Mark Clayton, actually did a pretty fair job. In going 2-2 over the last month and maintaining their first-place NFC East tie with Philadelphia, the Giants (8-4) had much more success despite extensive injuries than guard Chris Snee ever could have imagined earlier in his career.
“My first year, even my second year, guys got hurt and we didn’t have guys that could step in and play at the level the starters did, so we’re very fortunate and that’s a credit to the front office for bringing in those guys,” Snee said.
But Smith and Diehl represent the experience the Giants will need as they maneuver around this most critical month of the schedule.