The Giants are dealing with too many significant injuries just as their difficult schedule starts to heat up.
Sunday’s Week 5 matchup against the division-rival Cowboys arrived with the Giants already dealing with a long list of injuries.
The Giants’ inactives heading into Dallas included receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, safety Jabrill Peppers and left guard Ben Bredeson.
And while left tackle Andrew Thomas was technically active against Dallas, he didn’t play after dealing with a foot injury the week leading up to the defeat.
The aforementioned injuries occurred before the game. Now that the annual divisional meeting in Dallas has come and gone, Big Blue’s list of health-related issues is even longer — and includes more important players.
It’s still unclear the exact amount of time some players will need to recover, but regardless, the Giants will need to implement a “next man up” mentality at a critical time in their 2021 season.
Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones, and Kenny Golladay all exited the loss to Dallas with what appeared to be bad injuries.
The first injury was suffered by a player the Giants desperately needed to stay healthy after missing most of last year. Barkley stepped on the foot of a Cowboy defender in the first quarter and rolled his ankle. The ugly twist forced him to leave the game on the medical cart.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports Barkley will likely miss next Sunday’s matchup with the Rams but it’s unknown how much time he may need to miss following that game.
Late in the first half, Jones suffered a concussion trying to score a touchdown on a bootleg.
And Golladay had a knee issue limit him in the first half. He was ruled out at the beginning of the third quarter.
So the Giants’ starting quarterback, starting running back, and No. 1 wide receiver (who was a $72 million acquisition in the offseason) are dealing with injuries that could keep them out of the lineup.
Add those names to the injuries to Shepard and Slayton (two of the team’s other main receivers), Peppers (a starting safety and important piece of this defense), Bredeson (a starting guard prior to the injury), Thomas (the team’s best active lineman), Shane Lemieux (the original starting left guard) and Nick Gates (the original starting center).
It’s a mess for the Giants.
The injury list is eye-popping and is expected to further hinder the progress of a team that already deals with its fair share of struggles.
What does a ‘next man up’ roster look like
Everyone talked during the offseason about the slate of offensive weapons the Giants employ.
But now, the group of healthy offensive players looks wildly different than it once did.
New York is supposed to field a unit that includes Jones, Barkley, Golladay, Slayton, Shepard, Kadarius Toney and Evan Engram.
If injuries keep all of those skill position players out of the lineup, the Giants’ offense against the highly regarded Rams’ defense would now revolve around Mike Glennon, Devontae Booker, Toney, Engram, C.J. Board, John Ross, and Collin Johnson.
Get your Tums ready, fans.
While Toney is exciting to watch and Engram has his moments (take that with a grain of salt), the rest of the names make it sound as if the Giants are fielding an expansion roster in a season that many seemed optimistic for.
The offensive line has improved and didn’t allow a sack in each of the last two games, but that group looks different each and every week.
The Giants have now fielded five different starting offensive line units in as many games — an Andrew Thomas-Shane Lemieux-Nick Gates-Will Hernandez-Nate Solder group in Week 1 became a Solder-Matt Skura-Billy Price-Hernandez-Matthew Peart group in Week 5.
A difficult time for Big Blue
As we previously mentioned, these injuries come at the worst possible time — a gauntlet of a schedule is on deck.
People thought the Cowboys were a tough opponent — and they were, don’t get me wrong. But the Giants now must face the Rams, Panthers, Chiefs, Raiders, and Buccaneers over the next five weeks.
The Rams are one of the top teams in football, the Panthers are 3-2 but employ an impressive defense, the Chiefs and Buccaneers were obviously in the Super Bowl last year, and the Raiders are no team to sleep on — they impressively started 3-0.
Injuries are horrendous for momentum. The Giants’ questionable offensive play-calling and shaky defense provided them the potential to lose each of the next five games. These injuries worsen their chances; the next few weeks could be ugly.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY