Giants likely minus 2 key players Sunday

The New York Giants likely will go into Saturday's critical game against the Jets without two key players.

Tight end Jake Ballard suffered a posterior cruciate ligament injury in his right knee and could miss this week's game and longer.

"We're going to look at this day to day, (but) we expect that he will (miss time)," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said about Ballard on a conference call with reporters. "We hesitate to say how long he is out but I would think at this point in time he is going to miss some time."

And Coughlin also did not sound optimistic about Osi Umenyiora's chances of returning from an ankle injury.

The Giants' defense could use Umenyiora, who has missed the last three games with a sprained ankle, and Coughlin said "major" improvement must be seen before the defensive end can return.

"I'm very concerned because we were hoping we would have him back," Coughlin said about Umenyiora. "We are going to take it day to day, but we will have to really have some major improvement here to say that he will be able to go."

Coughlin said he doesn't think Ballard's injury is a season-ending injury. The Giants are very thin at tight end. Travis Beckum did not play last week due to an upper chest injury and the team's other tight end, Bear Pascoe, suffered an injury to his ribs and is being examined for that according to Coughlin.

"I am hoping it is not a season-ender, no, it is not one of those," Coughlin said. "It depends on how fast the knee will come around. I think they call it an old PCL injury that he has had before."

The Giants (7-7) have a short week of practice to prepare for the Jets. They did get some good news on the injury front as Coughlin said wide receiver Devin Thomas was cleared after suffering what appeared to be a scary neck injury during Sunday's loss to the Redskins.

Thomas, a special teams contributor, absorbed a shot to his neck area on a tackle on the last kickoff of the first half.

"Devin, thank God, has been cleared and it appears (it is) a burner and hopefully he will be able to practice this week," Coughlin said.

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.