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Giants secondary fights through pain
Morgan can relate first-hand to the injuries that all four of New York’s starters (cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Corey Webster and safeties Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips) have battled through so far this season. Morgan told FOXSports.com that he himself is dealing with an undisclosed issue entering the FOX America’s Game of the Week against the host Giants (1 p.m. Sunday ET).
Already trying to return from a broken leg suffered last season with San Francisco, Morgan strained his left hamstring during the preseason. He didn’t appear on Washington’s injury report Wednesday or Thursday, but that may be because the Redskins believe there is no question Morgan will be able to play against the Giants as opposed to the need to designate him as probable (75 percent likelihood of playing), questionable (50) or doubtful (25) under NFL guidelines.
“I’m trying to overcome this injury and get myself back to playing 100 percent,” Morgan said. “I think I’m doing pretty good. I haven’t dropped any passes they’ve thrown to me, so that’s always a plus.”
Morgan then laughed, which beats crying over what so far has been a difficult season for him and fellow wideout Pierre Garcon.
The Redskins made Garcon (five years, $42.5 million) and Morgan (two years, $11.5 million) their top free-agent targets to provide weapons for rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. Hobbled by a foot injury, Garcon has only eight catches for 153 yards and is likely to miss a second consecutive game against the Giants. Morgan has 16 catches for 201 yards, which is tied for second on the team behind tight end Fred Davis (23-312). Morgan, though, also was baited into committing a late personal-foul penalty in Week 2 against St. Louis that proved costly in a 31-28 loss.
Fortunately for the Redskins, two other receivers have helped pick up some of the slack for the NFL’s 20th-ranked passing attack. Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss each have 16 catches while combining for three touchdowns.
Hankerson is a promising second-year player whose rookie campaign was cut short by a leg injury. Moss is in his 12th NFL season and now has a limited role as a backup. But the 33-year-old said he feels as good as when he first joined the team in 2005 because of his offseason training.
“I’m playing at 190 (pounds) and I came in last year at 207,” Moss told FOXSports.com. “That’s a tremendous difference for me. I think, ‘If I would have known this back then …’ But you live and learn.”
Learning to persevere through injuries has become commonplace for the Giants secondary in recent seasons. The blows started coming in the preseason, when a slew of defensive backs went down, including projected starting cornerback Terrell Thomas (knee). That provided a chance to start for Amukamara, who has struggled to stay healthy ever since being selected by New York in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft.
Amukamara is coming off his best game in last Sunday’s 26-3 pounding of San Francisco. He was credited with season-highs in tackles (six) and passes defensed (three), along with recording his first interception of the season.
Asked how much improvement he has seen in Amukamara since 2011, Morgan said, “I can’t say he’s improved, because you can’t really judge someone when they’re hurt. But I think he’s finally playing his game. He’s comfortable and getting back healthy and playing like the reason they drafted him (in the first round). I do see a lot of confidence out there.”
Morgan says he “can’t wait” until the Redskins have their full complement of offensive weapons.
“Honestly, we haven’t been completely healthy all 11 of us (starters) for one game yet,” Morgan said. “I think that’s the most exciting part. When we finally get healthy as one unit and everybody’s there, it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to score a lot of points.”
Just like a healthier Giants defense will have a better chance at preventing teams from lighting up their scoreboard. But as proved last week against the 49ers, even an ailing New York secondary is a formidable challenge for the Redskins with Griffin facing the defending Super Bowl champions for the first time.
“They’ve got a lot of good athletes back there,” Morgan said. “They play together and they play smart. They don’t give up too many big plays and they’re aggressive. They’re in-your-face type of corners. If you’re not ready, it’s going to be a long day.”