Eli Manning set to practice on Monday
Tom Coughlin will have more healthy bodies to work with this week, and just in time, as the New York Giants approach the all-important third game of the preseason, against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday.
Coughlin told reporters on Sunday that Eli Manning will practice on Monday but without a helmet, since the quarterback just had stitches removed from his forehead. Coughlin is hopeful Manning will play in Baltimore.
Also, running back Brandon Jacobs is expected back in practice after sitting out Saturday's loss to the with Pittsburgh Steelers with a stiff neck. The team said Jacobs injured his neck while lifting weights.
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"He is feeling a little bit better today," Coughlin said. "They had some issue with flexibility and movement in the neck in terms of the muscle contractions but I think the expectations are that he will be able to practice."
General manager Jerry Reese assured reporters Saturday night that Jacobs is fine and suffered no structural damage to his neck or back.
"Don't ask me how this was provoked," added Coughlin, who initially said on Saturday that Jacobs hurt it doing "shrugs" in the weight room. "First time we have ever seen this, and according to the MRI, there is nothing of a structural nature, it was more muscle."
The Giants also will be getting guard Rich Seubert back this week. Seubert has been somewhat limited by a broken bone in his left hand but Coughlin expects Seubert to be available to play against the Ravens.
Coughlin is eager to have his entire starting unit together for practices this week. His team has been banged up, to say the least -- some players pulled hamstrings and groins in practices while others are coming off surgery. The Giants are taking every precaution to make sure their players are ready for the Sept. 12 season opener against Carolina.
Safety Kenny Phillips and linebacker Keith Bulluck, who both got in just six plays at the start of the second quarter in their respective returns from knee surgeries, are expected to play more snaps against Baltimore.
"It is important that these guys practice together and we get the whole group together so that we can talk about overall improvement," Coughlin said. "The pass protection breakdowns, the lack of efficient route running, the cohesiveness and timing involved between the quarterbacks and receivers and the protection and sight adjustments ... all that stuff needs work and time spent together That is why this week will be so important to these guys."
The Giants are also trying to figure out how to incorporate newly signed offensive lineman Shawn Andrews. Coughlin said the former Pro Bowl guard is still being considered for either tackle or guard. Andrews will practice on Monday after not playing since the first two games of the 2008 season for the Philadelphia Eagles due to a back injury.
Even though the team is getting healthier, Coughlin is still dealing with other injuries. Wide receiver Ramses Barden and safety Michael Johnson both are dealing with lower back issues. Coughlin said Barden will likely not play against the Ravens and Johnson has yet to get the green light. When asked if there is any damage structurally to their backs or if it was just a muscular issue, Coughlin replied, "there's some of that involved."
In the meantime, Coughlin is happy to have his starting quarterback on the field again even if Manning will be wearing a baseball cap initially. With backup Jim Sorgi out for at least another week or two with a shoulder injury, Coughlin will have his team fully aware that Manning is not to be touched or even approached within a mile by his defense.
"We are certainly going to be very, very careful," Coughlin said. "We do not allow anybody to touch the quarterback, with all the people coming it happens once in a while but not too often. Most of our guys are really good, we don't allow them to put their hands up anywhere near where the quarterback's arm or release point would be. The guys are pretty much aware of it."
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