EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The first and easiest instinct is to ask whether anyone has an explanation, but they don't. The New York Giants placed five players on injured reserve Tuesday, bringing their current total to a staggering 20, and it doesn't make any more sense to them than it does to you or me.
"You're asking me for a comment that has miffed me forever: Why does it happen?" Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday morning. "We've jumped even further into the science of staying healthy in terms of what we've done this year with our soft-tissue stuff, and as you can see, it hasn't been that. It hasn't been the soft tissue. It's been the surgical repairs, the things that have knocked people completely out of the game."
The Giants did overhaul their conditioning program this year, incorporating GPS monitoring and scheduled rest days throughout training camp and monitoring things differently during the season than they have in years past. But as Coughlin points out, the issues this year have generally not been muscle pulls or lingering strains. Starters Victor Cruz, Prince Amukamara, Jon Beason, Geoff Schwartz, Mathias Kiwanuka and Walter Thurmond all suffered season-ending injuries that required surgery to repair -- catastrophic-type issues that can't be prevented by better conditioning or vigilance. Dumb luck, in more or less all cases, which makes it even tougher to understand.
"It is a lot," said offensive tackle Justin Pugh, who missed the past two games with a quad strain but has avoided injured reserve and expects to play Sunday in Tennessee. "There's no doubt, you can look at it and think, 'How does this keep happening?' But it's part of the game. Every team deals with it. It's about how you handle the injuries."
The Giants haven't handled them very well, if their 3-9 record is any indication. Pugh said that the offense, at least, has had to make some changes in procedure due to the number of new faces shuffling in and out of the lineup all the time.
"Now, when we make a call, we're sticking with it. No gray area, where before we might have had some leeway," Pugh said. "Now it's clear-cut. But I don't want to say we've gotten more vanilla. We're just making sure we're harping on certain techniques and being real specific."
With four weeks to go in the season and big bodies naturally breaking down all around the league every December, the injury toll for the Giants is likely to climb even higher by season's end. They had three players miss practice Wednesday -- Rashad Jennings with an ankle injury and James Brewer and Mark Herzlich with concussion symptoms. They weren't the strongest roster in the league to begin with, and they've been wracked by injury more than any other team.
"I wish I had an answer for you," Coughlin said. "A lot of people want to go on and on about, 'Do we have enough offseason?' And I think that might legitimately be something to bring up at some point in time. But we offer no excuses, and we certainly have always maintained that position. I feel bad for the guys that are hurt. It's the nature of our business, unfortunately. We push forward."