The New York Giants have proven to be remarkably good at overcoming injuries. In fact, I can't think of a team that's been better at doing so.
However, the Giants enter 2012 with a bigger target on their backs. And it's looking as though they won't be any healthier, either.
The team announced Monday that defensive tackle Chris Canty would start the season on the physically unable to perform list, which means that the defense will have to fend without one of the league's best run-stoppers for at least six games.
This hurts, because Canty is coming off a career year. He was a force during the team's late Super Bowl run, and he finished 2011 with career highs in tackles (47) and sacks (four). But it also hurts because the Giants are already so thin up the middle with Marvin Austin and Shaun Rogers both sidelined.
Now, the G-men will be forced to use a lot of Rocky Bernard, who is 33 and has started just one game since 2008, and Marcus Thomas, who was signed less than two weeks ago.
Linval Joseph is a quality player with a bright future, but the Giants might still notice a drop-off against the run with Canty sidelined. The 29-year old took 683 snaps last year and was easily the best defensive tackle on the roster.
Beyond Canty, the Giants are also still without weak-side starter Michael Boley, who is strong against the run. Keith Rivers has looked good in Boley's stead, but this is a team that is now lacking depth in run defense.
Of course, a really, really, really good pass rush can compensate for almost anything defensively. And that has me wondering how often the Giants will simply send out Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck to surround Joseph up front. Pierre-Paul is good enough in run defense to make plays as a two- or three-technique defensive tackle.
It's a new year, though. So we don't know for sure if the rush will be good enough to make up for the injuries that have hit guys like Canty, Boley and Prince Amukamara.
And on the other side of the ball, it's impossible to know how successful Eli Manning can be in spite of the question mark at left tackle due to the back injury nagging Will Beatty and the question mark at wide receiver with Hakeem Nicks' status still cloudy.
Maybe the key is not to fear the unknown.
Oh, but on the bright side, the rest of the NFC East also looks like an infirmary.
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