Mathias Kiwanuka, the Giants’ most versatile and consistent defensive player this season, will miss Sunday’s game against the Bears due to a bulging cervical disc in his neck. Whether or not Kiwanuka will miss any more time this season – or have to be placed on season-ending injured reserve – is not yet clear.
Kiwanuka practiced fully all week, according to the Giants’ injury reports. The loss of Kiwanuka depletes a defensive line that could already be thinned by Osi Umenyiora, the defensive end who did not practice on Friday and saw a doctor about a knee injury. The Giants are also likely to be without linebacker Keith Bulluck, who has turf toe. Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard missed practices all week with a back injury.
Kiwanuka came into the preseason looking to win a starting job at defensive end. He wound up playing at end, tackle and even linebacker as the Giants took advantage of his athleticism. He leads the Giants with four sacks – no one else has more than one -- and has had 11 total tackles.
The Giants have lost several defensive players to disc issues in the last year. Linebacker Antonio Pierce had to be placed on injured reserve and ultimately ended his career because of a bulging disc in his neck. Earlier this week safety Michael Johnson was put on injured reserve with a herniated disc in his back.
Kiwanuka, the Giants’ first-round draft pick in 2006, will be a free agent at the end of this season.