The Giants spent the summer daydreaming about what their pass rush could look like with a completely healthy Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon as defensive bookends, something they experienced for just a small window last season. Now, as they go into the fifth game of the year, they may be waking up to the reality of playing without both of them.
Vernon missed practice on Wednesday after aggravating an ankle injury on Sunday in Tampa that he initially suffered two weeks ago in Philadelphia, and Pierre-Paul popped up on the injury report and did not practice because of a shoulder injury.
“It’s something that crept up here over the last couple of days,” Ben McAdoo said of Pierre-Paul’s injury.
McAdoo would not say whether he expects either or both to be available to practice this week, nevermind Sunday’s game against the Chargers. Both will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
It’s a scary proposition for the Giants to go into a game without those two key contributors, but one of their possible replacements shrugged off the panic.
“We’re fine,” second-year defensive end Romeo Okwara said. “We have guys who can step up and play if they’re not able to play come Sunday.”
More motion on O-line
Weston Richburg was not at practice, and the Giants already made personnel preparations for the likelihood he will not be available on Sunday.
Jon Halapio was signed to the active roster off the practice squad, giving the team another interior lineman and an option at center with Richburg in the concussion protocol. Halapio could be the backup behind Brett Jones, who stepped in for Richburg in the second half on Sunday in Tampa.
The Giants, who have used three different starting groups in four games, could have other changes in store. McAdoo hinted that Bobby Hart may be returning at right tackle after he was a healthy scratch against the Bucs. “I felt it was best to give Bobby a full week of practice and see how he does with a full week of practice this week,” McAdoo said of having Hart inactive last week. “He’s out there competing for the right tackle spot. He had a good practice today.”
That could free Justin Pugh up for a return to guard — or somewhere else on the line — after playing tackle most of the past three games.
“I find it fun,” Pugh said of being shuffled and even taking some practice reps at center this week. “It’s like a new challenge . . . It kind of keeps me on my toes.”
All Giants offensive linemen need to be that way. Only one of them has taken every snap of the season at a single position so far, and that is Ereck Flowers at left tackle.
To make room for Halapio on the 53-man roster, the Giants waived LB Deontae Skinner . . . CB Janoris Jenkins (ankle) did not practice but did some work with trainers on a side field . . . WRs Brandon Marshall (toe) and Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle/finger) were limited. So were RBs Paul Perkins (ribs) and Orleans Darkwa (back).