Jason Pierre-Paul during practice at the Timex Performance Center. (Aug....

Jason Pierre-Paul during practice at the Timex Performance Center. (Aug. 10, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Joe Epstein

At least the Giants have been here before.

In fact, it was only a week ago that they were in the exact same place with regard to Osi Umenyiora . . . playing without him. Now that the defensive end has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and will be out for the next 3-4 weeks, the Giants can just revert to the way things were looking when Umenyiora was pedaling his exercise bike and boycotting practices.

"Obviously it is a blow," defensive captain Justin Tuck said of losing Umenyiora for the next several weeks, "but just like before when he was not practicing, it gives other guys the opportunity . . . Osi needed to take care of this issue and luckily he takes care of it now and it doesn't affect us midseason. I think it is a good thing to deal with it now and we will be excited when he comes back."

Specifically what it means is that Jason Pierre-Paul, the second-year player who terrorized the Panthers in the preseason opener last Saturday, has gone from starting right end to backup swingman and back to starting end before the Giants could even have another game. He spent two practices as a backup, sat out a third with some back tightness, and now is once again atop the depth chart.

"Basically I just have to do what I have to do," Pierre-Paul said. "Coach came up to me with that [Friday] and let me know Osi was going to be out . . . so I need to step it up."

For a young player like Pierre-Paul, though, all this shuffling around could be a distraction.

"It really doesn't affect me," he said. "I'm use to it and coach just told me to play more of the right end especially this game so that's what I have been doing in practice."

The loss of Umenyiora also means everyone else takes a step up in the rotation. That means Dave Tollefson will have to carry a larger load of snaps, something he said he's ready to do.

"Yeah, are you kidding me?" he said when asked if he's prepared for an increased role. "That's why I came back. I'm comfortable in the system. I've had success in it and I've played with these guys. We've all played together. We've got a good group of guys that have played together. Yeah I'm ready. Whenever called upon, I'm ready."

The Giants could also use Alex Hall and Justin Trattou more with their first and second groups. One thing they do not appear willing to do right now is move Mathias Kiwanuka from linebacker back to defensive end.

Tom Coughlin said he saw Umenyiora on Friday after his surgery and that he was in "good spirits."

"The doctor said it went well," Coughlin said. "He thinks it's going to be some improvement."

The Giants will likely not have Umenyiora for the regular season opener, but he is expected back by mid-September. Until then, the younger players will get valuable reps for the rest of the preseason.

"Honestly this could be a win-win for us," Tuck said. "We know when Osi comes back, depending on how his knee acts, we know what he can do. We believe in what JPP can do, so the more he gets out there with the ones and goes against teams we are about to face in this preseason, he will get more confident in his ability. It will benefit us more."

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