Andre Brown's season is technically not over.
The Giants placed their running back with a broken left fibula on injured reserve but have designated him to return, applying the rule that is new to the NFL this season. Brown will have to sit out at least eight weeks, which means he would be eligible to return to action for only one possible game: Super Bowl XLVII.
Not that the Giants truly expect Brown to be back or even play a key role in that big game if he does. As improbable as a run to New Orleans would be, returning to be an NFL running back after breaking a leg seems even more far-fetched. But Tom Coughlin insisted it is "realistic" that Brown could be ready inside two months; he'd be eligible to return to practice after six weeks, meaning the week of the divisional playoff games in the second week of January.
Coughlin was more convincing Monday when he suggested that the designation was more a symbolic gesture toward Brown, whose rookie season with the Giants ended with an Achilles injury in training camp in 2009.
"I think it's going to provide Andre with great incentive," Coughlin said. "We want that experience for him. He was very disappointed [Sunday] night, let's put it that way. Frustrated. He's had some seasons end this way before and I think this is a way to perhaps motivate and inspire him, give him great purpose."
Coughlin said surgery is an option the Giants are exploring to help the broken bone heal. If that's the case, it likely would reduce the chances of Brown's return even further. But this is also the last week the Giants or any team can designate a player to return with any games left to return to, so why not use it?
Brown injured his leg on a 16-yard run early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 38-10 win over the Packers. Earlier in the game he'd scored his eighth TD of the season. With Brown sidelined, rookie David Wilson becomes the Giants' second-string running back behind Ahmad Bradshaw. "It's his time," Coughlin said of the first-round pick who has only 24 carries for 104 yards this season. "The time as far as where he's coming from couldn't be any better, I don't think."
Wilson had seen limited playing time behind the two veterans and the Giants coaches did not think he was ready to be trusted as an every-down running back. The Giants likely will add a third running back to the roster this week -- they have an extra day to prepare for their Monday night game against the Redskins -- but Wilson will be their No. 2 guy.
And if Bradshaw does not practice, as has been his schedule for the last few weeks, Wilson will be getting the majority of first-team reps in practice.
"I'm definitely anticipating coming in and getting ready," Wilson said of his change in stature. "To know that you're going to be a part of the game plan, instead of wondering and hoping, you take a different approach a little bit."