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SportsColumnistsTom Rock

Giants need Chris Canty back to aid weak pass rush

Chris Canty #99 of the New York Giants

Chris Canty #99 of the New York Giants celebrates a tackle late in the game against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. (Jan. 1, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Chris Canty has been wrong. A lot. He said he had a little cleanup surgery in his right knee following the season. He said he'd be back for the start of training camp. He said he'd be ready by the regular-season opener.

Now he's saying he'll be ready to play next week, when he comes off the physically unable to perform list following Sunday's game against the 49ers, and be able to make an impact on the defensive line.

The Giants can't afford for Canty to be wrong again. They need him desperately in the middle of a line that has quickly gone from dominant to dysfunctional. Through five games, the Giants' D-linemen have 5.5 sacks -- none of them from Justin Tuck or Mathias Kiwanuka -- and Sunday against the Browns. the Giants was held without a sack for the first time since last year's embarrassing loss to the Saints.

"How could we be satisfied?" Tom Coughlin said Monday when asked about his vaunted pass rushers who have been absent for most of this season. "We didn't touch the passer again."

Canty should be able to help. He'll provide some athleticism in the middle and draw some attention from offensive lines that have been loading up on the defensive ends. He'll also help against the run, and with his 6-7 frame will be able to bat down a few of those quick slants that have been the bane of the Giants' defensive existence all season.

"I feel like, as I do in all instances, I can help our football team," Canty said Monday, a week before he was eligible to begin practicing with the Giants. After that first practice, he'll have a three-week window to be on the active roster. Canty hopes it will be in time for the Week 7 game against the Redskins.

"I feel like I will be able to do that," he said of playing right away. "Physically, from a health perspective, I feel great. As good condition as I can be in considering that I haven't worn any pads [since the Super Bowl]. I feel great. I feel awesome."

The Giants need an injection of awesome. There is precedent, too, for having one pixel come back and clear up the entire image. Last year, the Giants were in shambles and in danger of another second-half collapse until Osi Umenyiora returned to action in Week 17. The Giants didn't lose another game after his return and the rejuvenated pass rush totaled nine sacks in the playoffs.

"We just haven't had the opportunity to have continuity with our group yet," Canty said of the 2012 season.

Can Canty's return make as big an impact as Umenyiora's did last season?

"Well, we certainly hope so," Coughlin said.

Canty is more certain than hopeful. But his optimism has been misguided at nearly every step of his return from knee surgery last February. This time, though, the Giants' fate might depend on him.

"When you have all of your pieces in place, there's something about the chemistry of it and understanding how each one of us works together," Canty said.

"We got used to that last year. When you have to make some adjustments on the fly because you don't have certain guys available, it's tough. But hopefully, when I come back, we can kind of get things back to the way they used to be around here."

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