Safety Position A Major Concern For The Giants
The last week of August was not a great week for anyone wearing a New York Giants jersey with the last name Brown. In the Giants' penultimate preseason game against the New York Jets, Stevie Brown left the game following an interception of a Geno Smith pass. He would later be diagnosed with a torn ACL — an injury that will leave him sidelined for the duration of the 2013 season. Less than a week later, RB Andre Brown suffered a fractured left leg — a very similar injury to the one he suffered late last season — and will miss at least the first 6-8 weeks of this season.
At the running back position, the Giants seem to be able to cope with the loss of Brown just fine. David Wilson will get his time to shine with Brown recovering, and backups Da'Rel Scott and Michael Cox should be capable of taking care of the ancillary duties at the position until Brown returns. However, things aren't so simple on the other side of the football where the other Brown's absence has left a gaping hole at the safety position.
Brown led the Giants in interceptions last season, but that wasn't all that he contributed to the defense. He also brought along an undeniable spark that carried the unit when they most needed it, and most of his interceptions seemed to come during pivotal moments of a game when the opponent was driving and threatening to score. His ball-hawking ways were fun to watch, and he has a nose for the football that is comparable to some of the league's finest safeties. With his injury keeping him out for the duration of the season, the Giants lose a key member of their secondary — a unit that was already weak to begin with.
The Giants will now head into Week 1 in Dallas on Sunday night with only three safeties on their roster: Antrel Rolle, Ryan Mundy and Cooper Taylor. With Mundy being acquired in the offseason from Pittsburgh via free agency and Taylor being drafted out of the University of Richmond, that leaves only one safety on the roster who suited up in a Giants uniform last season and who is familiar with Perry Fewell's defensive schemes.
If things get desperate for the Giants secondary, CB Terrell Thomas, who is returning to the field this season after missing the last two years to consecutive ACL injuries, has said that he could jump into the safety position at a moment's notice. The cornerback position has twice as much depth as the safety position does, with six corners suiting up for the start of the season. To make matters even more complicated for the already depleted safety corps is the fact that S Tyler Sash was one of the many players that didn't quite make it past the final cut on Saturday. While Sash wasn't exactly a game-changer at the position, cutting him didn't really help the already weak safety position, and the team seems to have no real interest in going after former-Giant Kenny Phillips, who was released by the Philadelphia Eagles a few weeks prior and who is obviously familiar with the Giants defense.
Another potential option is giving CB Will Hill a shot at the position when he returns from his four-game suspension in Week 5. Whatever the Giants choose to do, they'll likely be starting the season with a real shortage at the safety position, and the burden will fall on the cornerbacks to hold up their end of the deal and keep the opposing team's wide receivers in check to limit the amount of work that the safeties have to do downfield this season.