By Curt Macysyn
All the optimism in the world will not get Victor Cruz back in the line-up for the New York Giants this week, as the veteran wide receiver suffered in setback in his recovery from a calf muscle injury suffered in training camp. The spirits of Giants' players and coaches dampened significantly when Cruz could not make it through individual drills at practice on Wednesday.
In meeting with reporters on Thursday, Coughlin ruled Cruz out of Sunday's contest.
"Victor tried it yesterday and it did not feel right to him, so he did not practice, just a little bit in very beginning," Coughlin said. "Obviously, we're all disappointed in that, but we choose to take the road that we really don't have a lot of choice; which means get him back in rehab, get him back to work and see when he can be on the field. I don't have anything else to share with you, so don't waste a lot of time asking me questions about him. It is what it is. He tried it and didn't make it. He will not be able to play this week."
Given Cruz's injury and the departure of Preston Parker, who was cut last week, the Giants currently have only four wide receivers available to them. In addition to Odell Beckham, Jr. and Rueben Randle, the G-men will also have to utilize Dwayne Harris and rookie Geremy Davis. The team brought in both Wes Welker and Hakeem Nicks on Tuesday, but they did not sign either player. According to Coughlin's comments this week after Welker's tryout; he would appear to be the more viable option of the two wideouts.
Another player who seemed destined to play on Sunday, but then suffered a setback, was defensive end Robert Ayers; who has a hamstring injury. "Ayers had a little problem about three-quarters of the way through (practice), so we'll see about him," Coughlin declared on Thursday. Ayers is the Giants' best defensive lineman at this point, so going through another game without him, will prove difficult. Rookie Owa Odighizuwa may finally make his NFL debut this week, but would offer only slight help in the pass rush due to his inexperience.
Daniel Fells did not practice on Wednesday and Thursday with an ankle injury, but Coughlin thinks he will play on Sunday. With back-up Jerome Cunningham missing the game with a knee injury, the majority of repetitions may fall to Larry Donnell. Donnell is graded as the 58th and worst tight end in the NFL with a (-7.2) grade. "I think he's going to make it (the game in Buffalo)," Coughlin stated.
Finally, rookie offensive tackle Ereck Flowers again shows up on the injury report with an ankle injury. Flowers missed last week's game against the Washington Redskins, as Justin Pugh slid out to the tackle position, and John Jerry was inserted at guard. Despite the victory, Jerry still panned out in the red with a (-2.0) grade against the 'Skins. The Bills' defensive front is a stout one, featuring Marcell Dareus and Mario Williams, so Jerry will certainly be put to the test if he plays.
"We'll see where [Flowers] is," Coughlin said. "If it's possible and we get to the point where we feel confident that he can do it, then he plays." Eli Manning probably hopes that he can. Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn misses another game with a lingering knee injury.
Orleans Darkwa (Knee)
Owa Odighizuwa, DE (Foot)
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB (Concussion)
Daniel Fells, TE (Ankle)
Ereck Flowers, OT (Ankle)
Robert Ayers (Hamstring)
Victor Cruz, WR (calf)
Jerome Cunningham, TE (Knee)
Markus Kuhn, DT (Knee)
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for Examiner.com, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University - New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.
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