Giants Stoutmire out for season
I feel bad for Omar (ex-Cowboy) but glad to see the Giants weakened...
September 16, 2004
Giants Lose Stoutmire for Season With Injury
By LYNN ZINSER
AST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Sept. 15 - It was hard to imagine the situation getting worse for the Giants' defense in the aftermath of the Eagles torching it with 330 passing yards, but the news that safety Omar Stoutmire would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury accomplished just that. An already reeling defense reeled a little more.
Stoutmire tore an anterior cruciate ligament in the 31-17 loss Sunday, meaning the Giants have one fewer experienced body to throw in the way of their next division opponent, Washington, this weekend. At least some of Stoutmire's playing time will go to a rookie, Gibril Wilson, who spent the first game on the inactive list.
"Losing Omar is big," cornerback Will Allen said. "He was a big part of our secondary. He had a lot to do with a lot of things."
The list of unusual elements to this twist of fate is long. Stoutmire was the only member of the secondary last season to start every game and not sustain a significant injury; the other three starters were on injured reserve by December. This year, he had been replaced in the starting lineup by a free-agent acquisition, Brent Alexander, but Coach Tom Coughlin spent the preseason extolling the virtues of using a three-safety rotation of Alexander, Stoutmire and Shaun Williams to cover the two spots.
And Coughlin started his introductory news conference last January talking about injuries as a cancer, an unfortunate metaphor that now serves as a reminder that neither Coughlin's version nor the real kind is curable.
"I hate to say it, but this is a game of injuries," said Allen, who spent much of the preseason battling his own. "People are going to get nicked. People are going to get hurt. We've just got to keep moving."
The loss of Stoutmire hands a bigger job to Alexander and stretches a secondary already riding out a foot injury to cornerback Frank Walker. It also costs the Giants a significant role player on special teams. It prompted the Giants to call up linebacker James Maxwell from the practice squad and to move receiver/kick returner Mark Jones to cornerback. Jones, a rookie signed as a free agent, played some defensive back at Tennessee, where he was a teammate of Wilson's.
But it is Wilson, a fifth-round draft pick the Giants were not counting on for immediate contributions, who will have to accelerate his progress.
"He is very fast; he is very young," Coughlin said. "But these kind of scenarios are all over the league. He is going to have to learn. I think one of the big things with Gibril will be he has to understand angles. And he has to understand them fast."
The biggest change in direction for Jones is going from an afterthought on the inactive list to a significant job in a Giants secondary that had its problems against the Eagles.
Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb passed for four touchdowns and finished with a sparkling 137.5 passer rating. On one of Terrell Owens's touchdown receptions, he was left wide open. The Eagles had the most total yards (446) of any team in the N.F.L.'s opening weekend, and their passing total was topped by only two other teams.
A largely ineffective pass rush did not help matters, but the Giants' secondary was supposed to be one of the team's lesser worries with four returning starters and the signing of Alexander, who had played much of his career in Pittsburgh under the Giants' new defensive coordinator, Tim Lewis.
Now, the entire defense's adjustment to Lewis's system becomes a concern, with the secondary getting most of the attention.
"It's a worry any time people are throwing the ball over your head," Coughlin said. "That's a big worry. I honestly think we were on track, and then Will Allen hurt himself and didn't practice."
Allen, though, said blaming that for his performance was a cop-out.
Giants cornerback Terry Cousin acknowledged he had appealed a $500 fine by Coach Tom Coughlin for not being early enough for a meeting several weeks ago, but linebackers Carlos Emmons and Barrett Green said they were not involved in filing a grievance, despite the N.F.L. Players Association confirming their fines had been appealed as well. Emmons, who injured his groin in Sunday's game, missed practice Wednesday, and Coughlin offered no timetable for his return.
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