The Giants have been through so many permutations in their secondary that it's difficult to remember which version they are currently on. Practicing on Sunday without seven defensive backs certainly limited the possibilities of safety and corner combinations, but both critical positions remain wide open.
Consider that Prince Amukamara (groin) is out, and so is his replacement, Chykie Brown (knee), and so is his replacement, Jayron Hosley (neck/concussion). Starting safety Landon Collins is out (knee), and so is his replacement, Mykkele Thompson (Achilles), along with Nat Berhe (calf), who was expected to be playing for a starting job but hasn't been healthy since the spring.
"It's the NFL. It's a 100 percent injury rate," Amukamara said of the perils of his professions. "Someone is going to get hurt." Then he added what just about every Giants fan has been thinking the last two seasons: "It just seems to always be happening to us."
Many of those injured defensive backs will return in time for the regular season. Amukamara began running and cutting on Sunday and said he should be ready to play in preseason games by the time the Giants face the Jets in less than two weeks. Collins and Berhe are listed as day-to-day. And other injured players are beginning to work their way back at other positions (guard Geoff Schwartz and linebacker Jameel McClain came back to work on Sunday after more than a week away).
But it's not about playing in the regular season right now. It's about getting ready. And so far the mish-moshed secondary has yet to have an opportunity to come together.
"It's tough because you want to build the chemistry with one group," Amukamara said. "When you look at the best defenses -- for example, the Seahawks -- they have their group of four or five guys and they all play with each other and they know how they play. The communication is probably down pat because they practice together and stuff like that. The situation here is a little bit different. We're still trying to find our guys. We just have to roll with it."
The only two healthy safeties who come close to starting caliber are Cooper Taylor and Jeromy Miles. Taylor has never started an NFL game. Miles has, but not with the Giants.
The Giants added a veteran presence on Sunday when they signed two-time Pro Bowler Brandon Meriweather, 31. He's by far the most experienced player they have at the position.
"I think we're young, we're developing," said Miles, a sixth-year pro. "I think we're moving in the right direction and definitely ascending.''
"Our staff, they picked these select few guys for a reason, and these are the perfect guys for that. We just have to stick to our guns and keep developing."
The coaches have spoken at length about the need for those young safeties to communicate well with the rest of the defense. To that extent, the competition at the position -- before the recent injuries to the two rookies -- was wide open. Players would not know whom they were working with on any given rep.
"Chemistry definitely helps back there," Taylor said. "We've all gone with each other so we all have an idea of how we work together . . . With anything, there are going to be guys you feel more comfortable with, but the way we're learning it and the way we're learning, all of the guys out there I feel comfortable going with. And I think everybody feels the same way."
Everybody who is left, anyway. And there aren't many.
Notes & quotes: Right tackle Marshall Newhouse left practice early after becoming overheated. He was replaced by Schwartz with the starters . . . Linebacker Jonathan Casillas did not practice because of a stiff neck . . . Odell Beckham Jr. made a leaping, two-handed catch late in practice, holding the ball aloft with one hand as he fell backward to the ground . . . Backup kicker Chris Boswell was waived to make room for Meriweather on the roster.