Aaron Ross knows what injuries can do to a player. After starting at cornerback his first two seasons as a Giant, nagging hamstring problems cost him much of the last two years and left him behind in the cornerback rotation while Terrell Thomas, drafted a year after Ross in 2008, became a starter and a key contributor.
After Monday night, the tables have turned. Thomas is lost for the season with a torn right ACL and Ross, who turned in a solid performance as the nickel corner in the first half against the Bears, may be called upon to take Thomas' starting spot on the outside.
"It's unfortunate it happened this way," Ross said, "but I have to fill his shoes now. I was a starter when I got here, I went down and Terrell stepped up. Now it's my job to step up."
"I feel really confident this year," Ross said. "My body feels great."
He's one of the few Giants corners in full health. As the team reeled from the news about Thomas, first-round draft pick Prince Amukamara wheeled around the locker room on his rolling walker, with his broken left foot in a cast for two more weeks and still at least another six weeks to go before he can return.
"The expectation bar feels like it just got a lot higher for me," Amukamara said. "I kind of wanted to cry for [Thomas]. I definitely have that older brother feeling towards him."
Tom Coughlin said right after the game that he and general manager Jerry Reese would be exploring all options -- trade, free agency -- to find another cornerback. Bruce Johnson, another corner who got some playing time last season, tore his Achilles two weeks ago, and depth corner Brian Witherspoon suffered a sprained MCL Monday night.
"We've definitely been depleted there," Coughlin said.
It's why players like Ross can never bristle at what's been a consistent run of high draft picks used on corners, starting with Corey Webster (2005, second round) and followed by Ross (2007, first round), Thomas (2008, second round) and on to Amukamara this past April.
"Corners go down like flies around here," Ross said. "I definitely take this challenge on, I'm a competitive guy. It's tough, Terrell is a really, really big part of this defense. But I'm ready to get back on the field."