Running back logjam looms for Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's important to remember that Andre Brown never thought he should have been put on injured reserve (designated for return) in the first place. So when you ask the New York Giants running back whether he'll be ready to take the field when first eligible in the Giants' next game Nov. 10 against the Oakland Raiders, you get a fairly eager response.

"I feel great," Brown said Monday. "Legs feel great. I'm exploding. I'm cutting really well. Ready to go."

Whether the Giants let him go to that extent 13 days from now remains to be seen. Brown himself admitted he still needs to experience contact as part of his rehab. And he said he'll be wearing a shin guard -- likely for the rest of his career -- over the twice-broken part of his leg. But the Giants had a clear-cut role in mind for Brown in the preseason, when they were preparing to use David Wilson on early downs and Brown on passing downs and at the goal line.

Brown's broken leg, along with Wilson's two Week 1 fumbles and subsequent neck injury, blew up those plans, and the Giants have started Da'Rel Scott, Brandon Jacobs, Michael Cox and Peyton Hillis at running back in the interim with varying degrees of success. With Brown eligible (and Wilson still possible, though there's no new news on him) to return, the Giants may have some decisions to make at the running back position in the next couple of weeks.

"I don't know," Jacobs said when asked how he thought it would shake out. "All I care about is that there's still a No. 34 hanging over that locker."

It's certainly possible the Giants could cut Jacobs, who's missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. But he's also the only back they have who's rushed for a 100 yards in a game this year. It's possible they could cut Cox, though they've passed up prior chances to do that when it might have made sense and they could have used the roster spot, and they like the improvements he's shown in recent weeks. Hillis seems an unlikely cut, as he rushed for 70 yards Sunday and has been an asset as both a blocker and a receiver in the passing game. They could wait to activate Brown, which would aggravate him but certainly be their right. Or they could put Wilson on season-ending injured reserve if his neck injury hasn't improved.

Those are the possibilities, and the last two seem the most likely at this point, depending on Jacobs' health. It's just important to remember, when predicting this situation over the coming days and weeks, that Brown was part of their Plan "A" at running back this year, and that if he had not broken his leg in the final preseason game, it's possible that Jacobs and Hillis never even show up here. A conundrum, for sure, as the Giants work to continue to improve a run game that's still ranked just 29th in the league at 69.9 yards per game.