Injuries are the great equalizer in the National Football League, and it seems that injuries are on the rise so far this year. The players are bigger and stronger, the speed of the game has picked up and the popularity of the NFL seems to be at an all-time high.
All you have to know about injuries is what happened to the New England Patriots last year when Tom Brady went down. The impact on the Patriots was a team that was supposed to be in the Super Bowl again, lost its Pro Bowl QB and had to rise above that and meet the challenge of a 16 week NFL season without Tom Brady.
Many fans view injuries as the destroyer of their team's season, and in some cases rightly so. Last year, the Giants lost Osi Umenyiora in pre-season and still went on to the playoffs. Losing in the first round to the Eagles, but losing a player of Osi's caliber was not the reason.
This past week Kenny Phillips, who was having a monster season to date, and was poised for a possible Pro Bowl year, was placed on Injured Reserve due to a knee injury. An injury which seemed manageable by all accounts, but upon closer analysis, was deemed too serious for him to continue.
As all Giant fans know, the injury report is a concern. Lots of nagging injuries, many of them of the 2-4 week variety. Losing #1 draft pick Hakeem Nicks, Aaron Ross has not seen any playing time since week 1 of the pre-season, Jay Alford and Andre Brown out for the season and of course Justin Tuck's injury last week in Dallas.
Injuries to key players on both side of the ball.
So what does this do to the Giants chances for another playoff run? Of course the jury is still out.
Frankly, I would rather these injuries occur early in the season when there seems to be less at stake. The NFL season is a war of attrition. The team that can deal with injuries with depth and players stepping up their play, is the team that is usually successful.
The Giant organization has positioned itself for dealing with these injuries without losing any significant playing time or production. While losing Kenny Phillips is a big blow, it does not signal the end of the season. The Eagles are also dealing with similar issues, as are many of the other teams in the NFL.
Depth has been the key.
The Giants are thin at the safety position, yet their style of defense relies mostly on the Defensive Line and Linebacker play to control the game. Knowing that, GM Jerry Reese invested a lot of the Mara money in acquiring the much needed depth at both of those positions.
The training staff becomes key to the week by week success of any organization. The Giants have an experienced training staff, as well as coaches who believe that their players health is of prime importance.
Many players go out and play with nagging injuries. Look at what Plaxico Burress did during the 2007 season playoff run, dealing with a severely injured ankle.
I am confident that the injuries this Giants team is dealing with, while hindering the blending of some very talented players on defense, will only prove to strengthen the Giants as a team. Giving younger, less-experienced players time to produce while starters are given time to nurse their wounds, can only help this team in the long run.
I would prefer to see Tuck, Nicks, Hixon, Ross and the rest of the walking wounded take care of their injuries now, in order to have them at full strength in November and December.
Let's not forget that once the Giants return from their bye week, they play out their season against playoff calibre opponents. Among them a 3 week span of games including Philadelphia, Dallas and Washington. Throw in Atlanta, Denver, Carolina and Minnesota and it will be all hands on deck for the Giants defense!!
Is there a doctor in the house?