NEW YORK -- Greetings from Manhattan, where folks are abuzz about the news that Giants Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora may have been demoted for Sunday's game against the Cowboys. The NFL Network reported Wednesday night that Umenyiora would only be used on passing downs, and reporters on the scene Friday reported that Mathias Kiwanuka was practicing with the first team instead of Umenyiora.
Speaking to reporters after practice, coach Tom Coughlin neither confirmed nor denied that Umenyiora has been demoted. Asked whether Umenyiora would start Sunday, Coughlin said, "We’ll have to see that."
The coach went on to say that Umenyiora would see some reps on first and second down, so it's pretty obvious that a change has occurred. Coughlin didn't care for the word "shakeup," but that's exactly what this sounds like.
"We will play everybody,” Coughlin said. “We will get everybody involved. We are trying to do the best we can in maneuvering our personnel according to our team. We preach team defense, so we are going to try to get other guys involved as much as we can and see if we can’t solve some issues."
It also looks like former Cowboys defensive tackle Chris Canty will replace Fred Robbins in the starting lineup. I think Coughlin loves the fact that Canty has some extra motivation in Sunday's game and he wants to turn him loose. But it also has something to do with the estimated 13 tackles the team missed in last Thursday's loss to the Broncos.
You'll recall that Umenyiora appeared to be angrily shouting at his teammates on offense during that game. Now for the first time since '04, Umenyiora will be healthy scratch -- from the starting lineup at least.
Coughlin has a lot of motivational tricks up his sleeve, but he rarely resorts to benching Pro Bowlers. This is a very signifiant thing -- if in fact Umenyiora begins Sunday's game on the sideline. This is even bigger than Eli Manning scribbling on walls at Cowboys Stadium if anyone can believe it.
I wish we didn't have to wait until Sunday.