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Injuries have played a big role in the Giants' downward spiral

Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, left, is carted

Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, left, is carted off the field after an injury during the second half of a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in Philadelphia. Credit: AP / Matt Rourke

The Giants have been ravaged by so many injuries this year that even special teams coordinator Tom Quinn hurt his calf on the sideline in Sunday's game against the Jaguars while pivoting to make sure his punt team was ready to take the field. He wore a protective boot at practice Wednesday.

Yes, it's been that kind of year.

On Tuesday the team put five players on injured reserve -- literally decimating their 53-man roster -- in the biggest one-day run on designations that Tom Coughlin said he's ever been a part of. That gave the Giants 20 players on injured reserve, not to mention two who were waived off injured reserve earlier this year, three players who received injury settlements in training camp, and one who retired on the first day of camp because of injuries. They even have a player who has been put on injured reserve twice this year in Geoff Schwartz.

"You're asking me for a comment that has miffed me forever: Why does it happen?" Coughlin said when asked, well, why does it happen. "I wish I had an answer for you . . . We offer no excuses and we certainly have always maintained that position. As I said, I feel bad for the guys that are hurt. It is the nature of our business, unfortunately. We push forward."

It's not so much the number of players that the Giants have on IR. Other teams have comparable season-ending injury totals, such as the Cowboys (23) and Seahawks (21). What has hurt the Giants the most is the names of the players they have lost. Two of them, Victor Cruz and Jon Beason, were captains. Nine of them were starters. The Giants have $27 million, or about one-fifth of their salary cap, invested in players who are not playing. That is the most for any team that does not have a franchise quarterback on IR (namely the Rams and Cardinals).

That doesn't include the four games they played without Odell Beckham Jr., the four without starting running back Rashad Jennings, the four without starting defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, or the three without leading tackler Jacquian Williams. Nor does it factor in the fraction of production the team is getting from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as he battles back from hamstring and now shoulder problems.

"It's definitely taken its [toll] on this team," safety Antrel Rolle said. "I don't know the rhyme or reason for it. It's been a weird year all the way around. If you had asked me in the beginning of the season if we would be in this situation, I would have put all my chips on absolutely not."

And yet here they are, with just three wins and none since Oct. 5.

Naturally, Jennings missed Wednesday's practice with an ankle injury. He said players can't let situations dictate their attitude. But that can be difficult.

"Obviously we're human, let's not overlook that," he said. "If somebody pinches you, you might say 'Ouch!' But how you respond to it is important."

Coughlin famously called injuries "a cancer" and "a mental thing" when he was first hired by the Giants, and he insists that they will not be an excuse for this disappointing season. But it's hard for it not to be.

"We speak to the opportunity that comes to the next in line," he said. "And we've had a lot of next in lines, I'll say that."

New York Sports