Kenny Phillips wasn't on the field much Monday night and the defense struggled to get off the field when it needed to against the Redskins.
The Giants could certainly use Phillips on the field Sunday against the Saints, whose offense presents a different challenge than the Redskins' offense did, but still a difficult one.
Phillips did not practice for a second straight day on Thursday and he appears headed toward another game-time decision on his availability on Sunday, as happened last week after he aggravated an MCL injury in the Giants' 38-10 win over the Packers.
"I don't think it was a setback," Tom Coughlin said of Phillips' inability to be full-go in practice last week and again this week. "Just something he's dealing with."
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said that it was a coaches' decision to keep Phillips to mostly third-down situations on Monday, given that he hadn't shown much agility on the injured knee during the previous week of practice. With Robert Griffin III running his "read option" offense, Phillips may not have been much help against run-heavy Redskins.
"We had him in a specific package last week. Obviously we would love to have Kenny on the field," Fewell said. "Coach (Coughlin) makes that call. We'll just wait and see how Kenny performs and how Kenny practices to see what he'll do in Sunday's game."
Or whether Phillips, who managed to be active on Monday despite being listed as doubtful, will even play against the Saints. Facing Drew Brees and the air attack of New Orleans, the Giants may play a lot of nickel defense, which would mean a lot of Phillips amid a busy secondary. He has to be physically up to the task.
"Well, there's other considerations, too," Coughlin said. "There's a workload at other spots and special teams and the way in which that plays out in terms of the number of snaps people get. There's a lot of considerations."
Phillips did not make himself available to reporters on Thursday. He was frustrated last week that the MCL injury, which cost him six games already this season, had flared up again; if he can't get on the practice field by Friday, there may be more frustration to come.