FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - When you've been through as many injuries as Andre Brown has, you are allowed to call a fractured leg "a little bump in the road." For the Giants, though, it could wind up being a huge pothole for the first part of the season.

Brown suffered what he called "a tiny little crack" in his lower leg when he took a helmet to the area on a carry late in the second quarter of Thursday night's 28-20 loss to the Patriots in the preseason finale. He said the fracture, which is just above the plate on the fibula that was broken and surgically repaired 10 months ago, will not require surgery.

"We have to take more tests," Brown said, "but it's not as serious as it was last year."

But it undoubtedly will require him to be sidelined for at least several games, if not more. Brown optimistically said he hopes to return within a couple of weeks.

"It'll take a while," a more realistic Tom Coughlin said.

The injury occurred on a 3-yard run up the middle on a third-and-1, the kind of play the Giants have struggled to convert all preseason. There was 1:37 left in the second quarter when Brown limped off the field after the run. He walked to the locker room slowly but under his own power.

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"That's the good thing; it didn't feel the way [it felt last year]," Brown said. "I could jog on it. Got on my tiptoes with it. It just felt a little off."

Brown is no stranger to injuries. He was a fourth-round draft pick for the Giants in 2009 but ruptured his Achilles tendon in training camp. He bounced around to several teams for a few years before returning to the Giants' practice squad in 2011. Last year he was a productive backup to Ahmad Bradshaw and even started two games before fracturing his leg in Week 12 against the Patriots.

The Giants were planning on having Brown and David Wilson share the load at running back this season, but now it seems they will have to rely more on Wilson. They also have Ryan Torain, Da'rel Scott and rookie Michael Cox on the roster but might look elsewhere for veteran help at the position.

Coughlin noted that Scott played well Thursday night. The third-year player had four carries for 25 yards and caught a 6-yard TD pass from Curtis Painter.

"That was a tough injury for 'Dre," said Torain, the most experienced of the available running backs on the Giants. "We're a great running back group and we can help pick up the slack. Most definitely we can get the job done."

The injury came on a night when the Giants' offense should have been sighing with relief. After stammering through the preseason and the first two possessions against the Patriots, the starting unit finally put together a touchdown drive.

It was a 10-play, 91-yard drive that took 5:42. The Giants converted both of their third downs on the drive and capped it with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks. It was basically everything the Giants' offense has been lacking this preseason.

Now they'll be lacking Brown in the regular season. And although it may be a bummer for the team, Brown forced a smile in the postgame locker room.

"Definitely spirits are high and positive,'' he said, "and I'm looking forward to coming back this season."

Notes & quotes: S Tyler Sash left the game with a concussion after a first-quarter hit on RB George Winn . . . TE Adrien Robinson had X-rays of his left foot and did not return. The X-rays were negative, but Robinson left the stadium in a protective boot and on crutches . . . S Antrel Rolle returned for his first preseason game action since spraining his ankle Aug. 12 and looked good running down James Develin on the sideline for his only tackle.