EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Devon Kennard has a walking boot on his right foot, and while he won't say what his specific injury is, it sure looks as if the New York Giants' second-year linebacker will miss his fourth game of the season Monday night. That's the same number of games he missed in his rookie year, and as good a player as Kennard has been so far, it's fair to wonder whether he's also going to be an injury guy.
Which is a shame, because Kennard entered this season as a player about whom the Giants truly felt great. And there weren't many like that. Kennard and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins were set up to be the Giants' young defensive anchors. With major question marks at literally all three levels, the Giants' defense was hanging its hat on a couple of promising young draft picks in the middle.
Hankins is not there, having suffered a season-ending pectoral injury in early November, and now it looks as if Kennard can't be counted on to be there the rest of the way either. Which means the Giants have had question marks surface in two spots where they thought they were set.
Everybody will tell you injuries are no excuse because every team has them. But this Giants team entered the season not knowing what it had at either safety spot, either defensive-end spot and at weakside linebacker, and wondering (for good reason, it turned out) whether middle linebacker Jon Beason could answer the bell. There weren't many places for this defense to hang its hat, but Hankins and Kennard appeared to be the best bets.
We all know about the Giants' fourth-quarter defensive issues. As much as the coaching staff is taking heat for its decisions in key spots, the root of the problems is obviously in the personnel. They're too thin at too many spots, and the very few places where they thought they were solid are falling apart on them in the second half. It's not whether the Giants have more, fewer or as many injuries as any other team -- it's that their roster is too thin to withstand their injuries, whereas other teams have more depth and can withstand.
We're just talking about defense here. And to be fair, the defense has received an unexpected boost from the return of Jason Pierre-Paul. But he's not enough to overcome all of the holes, and we could flip it over to offense and make similar points about how guys like Will Beatty, Geoff Schwartz, Larry Donnell and Victor Cruz were supposed to be part of the plan and either never were or aren't anymore.
If you want to know what the Giants' biggest problem is, it's summed up here. Devon Kennard is a really good player, but a lot of teams could handle it if he had to miss four or so games with an injury. The Giants can't, because they don't have enough else.