Already crippled by injuries on the defensive line, the New York Giants lost another key contributor on Wednesday, when second-year end Justin Tuck was placed on injured reserve with a sprained foot that will require surgery. On the offensive line, however, Giants officials are hoping that starting left tackle Luke Petitgout might get back on the field late in the season or in the playoffs.
Petitgout suffered a broken left fibula in Sunday night's loss to the Bears. The team has opted to keep the eighth-year veteran on the active roster instead of moving him to IR and ending his season prematurely, for now.
"You can't give in with a great player," Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi said, explaining the decision to not place Petitgout on injured reserve. "[Former Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman] Jack Youngblood broke his leg [in the 1980 playoffs] and ended up playing in the Super Bowl that year."
Accorsi said Carolina Panthers coach John Fox told him he regretted placing tailback Stephen Davis on IR last December with a knee problem. When the Panthers advanced to the NFC title game, they were thinned at tailback by injuries, but could not bring Davis back for the game because of the decision to put him on injured reserve.
"You have to be patient," Accorsi said.
How long the Giants can maintain patience remains to be seen. Petitgout is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks. The injury does not require surgery, and the team will closely monitor his rehabilitation over the next few weeks. If Petitgout shows progress, the Giants probably will continue to gamble that he might be able to play again this season. If not, he will probably be placed on injured reserve at some point.
Petitgout sustained the injury in the first quarter on Sunday when an unidentified Bear rolled up the back of his leg. He was replaced by 15-year veteran Bob Whitfield, who struggled in pass protection and surrendered two sacks to Chicago right defensive end Alex Brown, who also forced two fumbles.
Whitfield, 35, has 170 regular-season starts on his résumé and will replace Petitgout in the lineup. The Giants did add a young offensive tackle to their practice squad Wednesday, signing former Cleveland 2005 seventh-round draft choice Jonathan Dunn of Virginia Tech.
The loss of Tuck, who will have surgery later this week to address the Lisfranc injury to his foot, further exacerbates a perilous situation on the defensive front. Tuck was the team's No. 3 end and New York is already playing without starters Michael Strahan (foot) and Osi Umenyiora (hip), both of whom made the Pro Bowl in 2005.
Rookie Mathias Kiwanuka, the team's first-round choice in this year's draft, will continue to start at one end spot. On Sunday, the Giants had William Joseph and Fred Robbins, both tackles, split time at the other end position.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.