Jay Alford and Chris Canty Possibly Headed to IR; How Will Giants Adapt?

Matt BertramCorrespondent IAugust 24, 2009

CHICAGO - AUGUST 22: Jay Alford #93 of the New York Giants is taken off the field on a cart after he was injured against the Chicago Bears during their preseason NFL game at Soldier Field on August 22, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

It appears that the 83 million dollars spent this offseason by the New York Giants in free agency to add depth to an already stout defense has gone to waste.

Today, news broke that the injury Jay Alford sustained in last night's preseason game against the Chicago Bears was a lot more severe than initially thought. It was first reported that Alford had an MCL sprain in his knee, which came as a relief to the team being that it wouldn't be a season-ending injury.

What came as a surprise and immediate disappointment for fans, coaches, and media was the announcement made earlier today. The injury actually consisted of two torn ligaments, effectively ending Alford's campaign for the 2009 season.

Then, the news got even worse. Reports came out that Alford could have some added company on the injured reserve to go along with rookie running back Andre Brown. Defensive lineman and free agent pickup Chris Canty would be the next casualty with a hamstring injury. 

Head coach Tom Coughlin stated in a conference call interview today that Canty had a torn hamstring and hadn't progressed as far along as the team expected. This too could become a season-ending injury.

What's amazing is that something once considered to be the strength and identity of the New York Giants—the defense—has now been decimated with injuries.

The Giants training staff will work with Alford for the next two weeks, at which point the Giants will decide upon a course of action based on Alford's rehabilitation progress. The injury will almost certainly spell the end of Alford's season with the team, however.

Canty will also, in all likelihood, be headed to injured reserve, even though the team has made no mention of it in hopes he can recover before the regular season gets underway. Unfortunately for Canty, it's not a strained hamstring; it's a torn hamstring, an injury that takes significantly longer to heal.

Being that little progress has been made in regards to Canty's injury, the team remains optimistic but clearly is aware of the more probable outcome.  Tom Coughlin is hopeful that at the worst, Canty would reside on the PUP list, then return to the team at week six if healthy.

Add to that the fact that the Giants' other two free agent acquisitions are injured, and suddenly the immense depth on defense that everyone was talking about all summer has vanished. If anything, the depth on defense is paper-thin now.

"I just think that for so long we have been hearing that we have so much depth," Coughlin stated in the conference call interview. "I don't know what you are watching, but the guys who are supposed to be the depth have hardly even practiced. Some haven't practiced, some haven't played. I think you are talking about something that looks good, but hasn't really materialized.

"Until we get this thing straightened around with everybody on the field, this rotation and this depth we are talking about is a non-factor right now. We need people practicing, and we need to be able to accomplish that."

This is definitely a tough pill to swallow for Giants fans and some very sobering news. Linebacker Michael Boley remains injured due to hip surgery performed to correct a torn labrum and will be suspended for the opening game of the regular season. Rocky Bernard's progress has been better with his hamstring injury, and he is expected to practice this week and potentially play Saturday versus the Jets.

Both players were added to the Giants in free agency and have missed most of training camp.

The wide receiving corps should be the least of the Giants' worries now. The defense is once again plagued with injuries headed into the season, but not all hope is lost yet. If the Giants come out flat and uninspired simply from a team standpoint this Saturday against the Jets, it will definitely be time to worry.

Until then, Giants fans will just have to wait and see how the team adapts to its setbacks. 

To read more about this developing story, check out Ralph Vacchiano's blog.