Hurricane Irene cramps Giants' schedule

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Like the rest of the East Coast, the New York Giants were adjusting their lives around Hurricane Irene on Saturday.

After having their preseason game against the Jets postponed from Saturday to Monday, the Giants held a practice on Saturday morning. Tom Coughlin then sent his team home to be with their families and gave them an off day Sunday, when Irene is expected to hit New Jersey and New York hard.

Normally, the Giants meet and stay in a hotel on the night before a game. But weather has once again wreaked havoc on the Giants' schedule.

The Giants not only have had their schedule thrown for a loop with the postponement of the Jets game, but they'll have only two days to recover before traveling to play the New England Patriots on Thursday night.

"The coming week is going to be challenging, no question about it," said Coughlin. "But we will adjust and adapt and make the best out of it."

The Giants are no strangers to adjusting to Mother Nature. They were stranded for a night in Kansas City and had their game at Minnesota moved to Detroit due to a massive snowstorm last season.

Now they are dealing with a hurricane.

"The weirdest thing will be tomorrow night, not being in the hotel, but being at home or wherever and then showing up for meetings Monday afternoon and then playing the game that night," quarterback Eli Manning said. "That will be a different routine that we haven't
had. But I think everyone has adjusted well.

"Obviously, we've been through this a little bit before, last year with the Minnesota game. So I think it's going pretty smoothly."

The Giants say they will hold two light workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to New England. They will not have a regular practice.

Coughlin's plan is to play his starters for the first half against the Jets in the team's third preseason game, which is when the starters play the most time.

He did not know what he will do against the Patriots but the head coach very likely could just take a long look at many of the young players vying for a roster spot.

"We are going to play the starters the first half on Monday night, and then we will take a look at how we will handle personnel on Thursday," Coughlin said. "That would be the game we would deviate from how we've done things in the past, simply because you are talking about only two days between games and no real practice time."

Not long after the Jets game, the Giants have to cut their roster down from 90 to 80 players by 4 p.m. on Tuesday. The team then has to reduce the roster to 53 on Saturday.

"Listen, there is nothing we can do about the current set of circumstances," Coughlin said. "We have to adjust and adapt. We have been evaluating our roster since the start of training camp. All we can do is take what we have had in terms of the totality of the preseason and make our decisions based on that.

"There really has been no precedent for this entire preseason."

Manning said the Giants looked "crisp" and "sharp" in practice on Saturday. The quarterback said the Jets game will be important for the starters since this likely will be their last audition before the season opener against the Redskins on Sept. 11.

"That's why this game is so important," Manning said. "I thought getting in another practice and running around today was helpful. This game coming is going to be very important. We're going to get some looks and see how we stand against a 3-4 team, a team that does some exotic blitzes and a top-quality team. We have to make sure everybody is on the same page and communicating and everybody is doing their responsibility. Hopefully, we'll go out there and play well."

Manning has had experience dealing with hurricanes since he grew up in Louisiana. He appreciated Coughlin for looking out for the safety of his players and their families.

"That's why he gave us (Sunday) off," Manning said. "He said it's supposed to hit tomorrow morning and it's a big storm, a wide, long hurricane, so it's going to last the majority of the day with high winds and heavy rain. So stay in the house and
have enough food and water so you don't have to leave and let this thing full clear before we have to go out and about."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.