EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' defense has struggled the past couple of weeks. And struggle might be putting it kindly. It has allowed 82 points in the past two games.
To hear that defensive tackle Damon Harrison and linebacker Devon Kennard might play this Sunday when the Giants host the Kansas City Chiefs can be viewed as encouraging news for a unit that needs whatever it can get. Harrison missed practice Wednesday with an ankle injury before being limited on Thursday. Kennard was limited throughout the week.
Both Harrison and Kennard were officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium.
“[Saturday] will be a big day for them," coach Ben McAdoo said. "On launch day, it’s another day to get up to 80 percent, anyways. They were both limited in practice Thursday. It was encouraging to see them out there.”
Offensive lineman Justin Pugh (back) and linebacker B.J. Goodson (ankle) were ruled out for Sunday. Pugh has been shut down for at least a few weeks while Goodson may possibly return as early as next Thursday night against the Washington Redskins.
With Goodson out and fellow linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (quad) listed as doubtful, the Giants will once again be short-handed at linebacker. Calvin Munson is expected to start at middle linebacker on Sunday, with Curtis Grant and recently signed Akeem Ayers in reserve.
Linebacker Keenan Robinson (quad) was placed on injured reserve earlier this week.
The lack of healthy linebackers is especially problematic this week against the Chiefs. They have one of the best tight ends in the league with Travis Kelce and use their running backs out of the backfield often. Running back Kareem Hunt is third on the team with 32 catches and all-purpose weapon Tyreek Hill, second on the team in receptions, also sometimes works out of the backfield.
Kelce leads the Chiefs with 51 receptions, 629 yards and five touchdowns.
The Giants' offense also has its concerns. With Pugh sidelined, their offensive line could be starting its seventh different combination in 10 games if rookie Chad Wheeler starts at right tackle. Wheeler is an undrafted free agent out of USC who could be called upon ahead of Bobby Hart against the Chiefs.
Whoever starts will face a difficult matchup against Pro Bowl linebacker Justin Houston. He has 7.5 sacks this season.
McAdoo has confidence in Wheeler, who was a healthy scratch for last week’s game but played well this summer to earn a roster spot.
“He’s a young player, played big-time college football at a high level and is someone that we feel has a high ceiling,” McAdoo said.
It would be Wheeler's first career start.