There has been so much talk about what position Aaron Ross plays. He’s been lining up at safety the last few games but is a cornerback by trade. Now it looks like he’ll be assuming the position he’s held for most of the season: a cheerleader on the sideline.
Ross injured his fragile left hamstring after practice on Thursday and did not work with the team in its practice on Friday. Tom Coughlin said it is the same hamstring that tore in three places earlier this season and forced Ross to miss the first nine games of the schedule. Coughlin said he does not believe this injury is as bad as the previous ones, but with starting cornerback Corey Webster already missing practices with a sprained knee, Ross was supposed to take Webster’s place in the lineup. Now it seems as if neither will be available for Monday night’s game against the Redskins.
“I’m concerned,” Coughlin said. “It’s too bad the English language can’t allow for some other way to say that. I am concerned.”
If neither Ross nor Webster can play on Monday, forgotten defensive back Kevin Dockery appears to be in line for his first start of the season. Dockery came into the season expecting to compete with Terrell Thomas for the starting nickel job, but he had his own hamstring injuries in training camp that allowed undrafted rookie Bruce Johnson to catch eyes and make the squad. Johnson has played the nickel most of the season while Dockery’s playing time has mostly been limited to special teams. He’s even been inactive in two of the last four games.
Dockery said he’s never asked for an explanation about his reduced role.
“It’s a coach’s decision,” he said. “He makes the calls and I just fill my role, whatever that role might be.”
But now Dockery could be in position to play a very large role. That’s not something foreign to him. He was a big contributor last season.
“He knows the defense better than anybody in the secondary,” starting corner Thomas said of Dockery.
“This week I’m getting more reps so I’m getting to work against the looks,” Dockery said of the changes to his prep this week. “But as far as the effort, the time put in the film room, that won’t change.”
Webster and Ross could still play on Monday night. Webster has been getting better each day, Coughlin said. And Ross is still hopeful that with a couple of days’ rest he can play according to teammates. The Giants will announce their status for the game on Saturday, but it could come down to a gametime decision.
The Giants’ passing defense has not been particularly strong in recent weeks even with Webster and Ross – two of their best defenders – on the field. The last four opponents have averaged 293 passing yards per game against them. They’ve allowed eight passing touchdowns in that stretch and made just three interceptions.
Playing short-handed in the secondary is nothing new, especially since they spent more than half the season without Ross and have been without star safety Kenny Phillips since Week 2.
“It’s tough,” Thomas said. “We’ve been having an uphill battle in the secondary all year (against injuries), but I think we’ve done a great job of people stepping up and adjusting, so I don’t think it’ll be any different this week.”
Said Dockery: “It’ll definitely hurt to lose depth. But whoever is called up, whoever has duty on Monday night, we just have to rise to the occasion at all costs.”