New York Giants Lose Three Key Defenders in a Matter of Hours

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New York Giants Lose Three Key Defenders in a Matter of Hours
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05: Terrell Thomas #24 of the New York Giants is introduced against the Washington Redskinson December 5, 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Just when you think matters can't get much worse for the Giants, the team announces that yet another key defender is lost for the season.

Less than 24 hours after Terrell Thomas suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury in a preseason game against the Chicago Bears, the Giants announced that both rookie defensive tackle Marvin Austin and reserve cornerback Brain Witherspoon would miss the remainder of the 2011 NFL season as well. 

Austin, who was competing with Linval Joseph for the starting defensive tackle position, tore his left pectoral muscle—an injury that will require season-ending surgery, according to Giants coach Tom Coughlin

Although Austin has never played a regular-season down in the National Football League, the 22-year-old, who is loaded with talent, was to contribute immediately to Perry Fewell's defense. 

Instead, the second round draft pick will be without football for the second straight season—in 2010, North Carolina dismissed Austin from its football program for "violations of NCAA agent benefits, preferential treatment and ethical conduct" according to a statement released by the school. 

Witherspoon, who has played for three teams in his four-year career, was playing well in training camp—even catching the eye of the Giants' coaching staff—before he suffered a season-ending ACL injury on Monday night. 

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Here's what Witherspoon tweeted after he learned of his injury:

"Just wanna say thank you to all the fans, friends and people who were behind me, and supporting me!" Witherspoon Tweeted. "My season has come to an end TORN ACL."

With Bruce Johnson on the IR (Achilles tendon) and Prince Amukamara out indefinitely, Witherspoon had plenty of opportunities in training camp to make a name for himself. 

And the 26-year-old cornerback didn't disappoint. 

In the Giants' preseason opener against the Panthers, Witherspoon exceeded all expectations, displaying his elite speed, above average coverage skills and open-field tackling ability en route to finishing with two passes defensed and two solo tackles. 

Although Witherspoon wouldn't have been a starter for the Giants, he would have provided New York with depth at corner, which is becoming a real issue for Big Blue, who will be without Thomas, Johnson and Witherspoon for the entire season. 

If the Giants have any hopes of reaching the playoffs, they must add a cornerback who is capable of playing in the nickel. 

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