LB Kiwanuka has surgery, RB Jacobs pulls hamstring
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For the first time this season, injuries are going to force New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin to juggle his starting lineup at more than one position.
Not only was strongside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka likely lost for the season with a broken left leg in the 16-10 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, starting halfback Brandon Jacobs was knocked out with a pulled left hamstring.
While the Giants (7-3) have opened a little cushion in the playoff chase, the downside is that it was injuries to Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Amani Toomer that led to New York's collapse in the second half of last season.
Kiwanuka's injury is the first major one for the Giants since the season started. He had surgery to stabilize his leg and ankle on Monday. Coughlin said doctors don't think there is enough time for the second-year pro to recover and play again this season.
Reggie Torbor replaced Kiwanuka at the linebacker spot, but Coughlin must replace him in third-down dime package where he played tackle, and in some other scenarios where he played a roving pass rusher.
Tackle Fred Robbins got most of the work in the dime package Sunday, but Coughlin plans to consider other options to keep the "joker" (roving rusher) active.
The halfback position might be more of a challenge because backup Derrick Ward has missed the last three games with ankle and groin injuries.
Ward filled in admirably after the big, bruising Jacobs sprained a knee in the season opener and missed the next three weeks. However, he was banged up during that stint and has been slow to return.
"It went from a deep, strong position to a position now that has a couple of injuries," Coughlin said. "We are trying to figure out just exactly where Ward is, and it probably would take through tomorrow to figure that out, but it is a definite concern."
Droughns had averaged 4.0 yards on 41 carries heading into the game against the Lions, but he was limited to 13 yards on 11 carries after Jacobs was hurt in the third quarter.
Coughlin downplayed the lack of production Sunday, noting the Lions had eight players near the line of scrimmage in the fourth quarter, trying to force the Giants to throw the ball.
Holding the lead, Coughlin refused to throw and Droughns' statistics paid the price.
"Other than that, Reuben has run the ball well when called upon and did a nice job with a screen and so on and so forth," Coughlin said. "He is a proven rusher in this league and we have great confidence in him."
Droughns rushed for more than 1,200 yards in 2004 and '05. He had 758 last season in a limited role with Cleveland.
Bradshaw has no experience. The seventh-round draft choice from Marshall has not carried the ball from scrimmage and has one reception for 11 yards. His biggest contribution has been 16 kickoff returns, including a season-long 68-yarder Sunday.
Bradshaw was in the doghouse earlier this season after fumbling on a kickoff return against the Packers, but he is now back in the good graces.
"He would be ready," Coughlin said. "We have used him in certain situations even more than you have seen in the game. We have had things ready from a practice standpoint that haven't been used. He is ready and he seems to be very aware of pass protection, as well."
The Giants have been healthy this season. On defense, the only starter to miss a game has been safety James Butler, who was sidelined against Miami with ankle and hamstring woes. Jacobs is the only starter on offense to miss a game with an injury. No more than one starter on either side of the ball has missed a game.
Wide receiver Plaxico Burress has been plagued by a sprained ankle and barely has practiced, but has not missed a game.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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