EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- An already-thin New York Giants defense that can't afford any more injuries had a potentially significant one Saturday night, when middle linebacker Jon Beason suffered a sprained left knee in the first quarter of their 22-12 preseason win over Jacksonville on Saturday.
The severity of the injury wasn't immediately clear, though the Giants wasted no time in ruling Beason out for the remainder of the game. Beason sat on a trainer's table on the sideline with an ice pack on the knee while the game continued.
"Everyone here knows Jon is an essential part of our defense," fellow linebacker J.T. Thomas said. "He's our leader. He's the guy we look up to. Of course it affects our leadership and our style of play."
Injuries have been an issue for Beason. He played in just four games last year for the Giants because of a toe injury he suffered in minicamp. And while he managed to play in 15 games the year before -- three for Carolina and 12 for the Giants after being traded to New York -- he missed a total of 27 games over the previous two years because of leg injuries.
Jameel McClain replaced Beason at middle linebacker Saturday night, as he did last season. But the Giants had been counting on the return of Beason to help galvanize the defense that new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is installing this season.
The Giants already are playing without star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who's out indefinitely following a July 4 fireworks accident that cost him his right index finger. And they entered Saturday's game down seven defensive backs, including projected starters cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin) and safety Landon Collins (knee).
"It's amazing, the way that's going," head coach Tom Coughlin said. "We earmarked it as a problem position for us, the safety position, and we had two guys hurt tonight in that spot. Hopefully, we'll get a couple of guys back to practice that weren't able to play. It's just hard to even comment on."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.