The Giants' injury situation has turned into an epidemic with the loss of leading wide receiver Hakeem Nicks today, but the offensive side of the ball is hurting the most. Besides Nicks, starting wide receiver Steve Smith is out at least one and maybe two more games, and there was no status update today on starting offensive linemen Shaun O'Hara and David Diehl.
During their five-game hot streak, the Giants were prolific on offense, but they have totaled just 37 points in the past two losses combined. As safety Antrel Rolle sees it, that means the defense has to play that much better to overcome all the injuries, starting with Jacksonville on Sunday.
"It puts a lot of pressure on the defense," Rolle said. "It's something I think we can definitely hold ourselves accountable for. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves even if everyone is healthy. That's the kind of standard we hold ourselves to. We're going to do whatever we can to make sure we come out with the win."
Asked how the Giants' defense would view a team that lost its starting wide receivers, Rolle was honest. "At that point, we understand you're a little bit vulnerable," he said. "So, we would go after them. We expect teams to go after us, and I also expect us to make them wrong in their assumptions of thinking we don't have anyone that can step up. I think that's exactly what we're going to do."
Although the Giants suffered a 27-17 loss in Philadelphia, they at least didn't allow Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to run wild the way he did the previous week against Washington. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell used Rolle repeatedly in blitz situations, trying to pressure Vick.
"I was drained," said Rolle, who added that it was the most he ever had blitzed in one game. "But my will and determination are going to keep me fighting. There were a lot of blitzes. I don't know the exact number, but there was a lot. I just tried to get him any way I can. A couple times, I thought I had him, and I guess he crawled up out of there. I don't know how he got out, but he did. As far as containing Vick, we did a pretty good job of that, but the most important thing is the win and loss and we lost."
The danger now is that things could spiral downward in a hurry because of the injuries. Rolle called out his teammates earlier this season for a lack of passion when they started slowly, and now, he's trying to emphasize the opportunity that exists for backup players to step up and play well.
Asked if players could start to think this isn't their season with all the injuries, Rolle said, "You can't think that way. I'll do everything in my power to make sure I don't allow them to think that way. I'm very confident. I don't care if we're missing all 11 starters. We go into the game to win. That's the kind of attitude you have to have to play this game."