Giants wide receiver Steve Smith celebrates a touchdown catch against...

Giants wide receiver Steve Smith celebrates a touchdown catch against the Cowboys. (Oct. 25, 2010) Credit: AP

Steve Smith injured his pectoral muscle in practice on Thursday and was sent for tests to evaluate the severity of the injury. Tom Coughlin said immediately after practice that the team is calling it a strained muscle and that Smith suffered the injury while extending for a pass over the middle.

“He had trouble driving his arms after the injury,” Coughlin said. “It was kind of a blur for me because I didn’t even realize he had done anything. Then word was he was out of practice. He tried to move his arms and that type of thing and he had some pain up in his pec area. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Smith is the team’s second-leading receiver, but not by much. He has 47 receptions for 517 yards while Hakeem Nicks leads the team with 51 catches for 653 yards. Nicks also has nine touchdowns to Smith’s three. The Giants also have Mario Manningham as a third receiver with 25 receptions for 385 yards and three scores.

If Smith is unable to play on Sunday against the Cowboys, the Giants would simply move Manningham to the starting job. But when they use a three-receiver set, they would have to look to two inexperienced players: Either Ramses Barden or rookie Duke Calhoun.

Barden said he feels he is ready to contribute if he is needed. He has two receptions for 30 yards this season, including a 22-yarder against the Cowboys when they played last month.

Coughlin summed up what the loss of Smith might mean to Barden and Calhoun in one word: “Opportunity.”

“They’ve worked hard, practiced hard,” Coughlin said. “A lot of their work has been scout-team oriented. Out of 10 they may get two or three with the first team offense and they’ve taken advantage of that. Obviously this will be a whole different story.”

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