Two of the Giants top three cornerbacks sat out of Monday’s practice with injuries, just six days before their season-opener against the Carolina Panthers.
Starting corner Corey Webster was sidelined with a groin injury. The sixth-year corner rode a stationary bike during the portion of Monday morning’s practice that is open to the media but did not take the field. Tom Coughlin did not dismiss the idea that Webster’s groin injury could linger.
Aaron Ross sat out with a tear of the plantar fascia in his right foot. Coughlin said that Ross was “getting better” but did not commit to the idea of him practicing on Wednesday.
Ross’ foot was initially placed in a hard cast when the team announced the injury on August 25. The cast was reportedly removed from his foot on Sunday and Coughlin said Ross – who hasn’t practiced in two weeks - is adjusting to a new shoe that he has to wear.
“He’s getting better. The reports are good,” the Giants coach said. “They have some things they’ve got to try to work out with him in terms of his comfort level with the shoe but he’s getting there.”
Ross played in just four games in 2009 due to a hamstring injury he suffered in training camp last season. He initially hoped to compete for the starting cornerback job alongside Webster in training camp this year but was derailed by the foot injury. All indications are that Terrell Thomas will start at cornerback on Sunday in the season-opener against Carolina.
Webster’s injury is believed to be far less severe. He had a wrap on his left groin after the Giants’ Aug. 21 preseason game against the Steelers. He also sat out the Giants’ final preseason game against the Patriots on Thursday night due to the injury.
Reserve corner Bruce Johnson is likely to replace Webster if he can’t play against Carolina, but Webster still has three practices to get up to speed before the opener.
“I think Corey will be out there. He’s ready to go,” said Thomas, the Giants’ healthy starting cornerback. “I don’t think he’s going to miss this one.”
A second-string secondary isn’t ideal against any team, but especially not the Panthers. Sure, the Carolina ground game thoroughly embarrassed the Giants in a 41-7 win in the Giants final game at the Meadowlands last season. But Panthers wideout Steve Smith also caught five balls for 60 yards and a touchdown.
“We remember that,” Thomas said. “That’s not the way we wanted to end our season.”
The Giant defense will be under heavy scrutiny with or without a healthy Ross and Webster. The unit gave up 427 points last season, including 85 in the final two games.
Still, despite the question marks in the secondary, new linebacker Keith Bulluck believes the Perry Fewell-led defense will be able to perform against the Panthers.
“As a unit, we don’t expect there to be any let-up just because we don’t have two of our corners,” Bulluck said. “It’s a great test for this football team, for this defense and I’m sure everyone will rise to the challenges that are before us.”