Injuries at running back could leave the New York Giants short-handed for Sunday’s key NFC East matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.
Backups Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware missed practice Wednesday and coach Tom Coughlin is uncertain about their status for the game.
Bradshaw missed the loss at Denver on Thanksgiving night with left ankle and foot problems. Ware suffered a concussion against the Broncos. He also was sidelined for five weeks after dislocating his elbow on the opening kickoff in the season opener.
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Coughlin said “we are keeping our fingers crossed” about Bradshaw playing Sunday.
Starter Brandon Jacobs has struggled this season, not reaching 100 yards rushing in a game. At least he’s healthy, as is fullback Madison Hedgecock.
The only other running back on the roster is rookie Gartrell Johnson, who has 11 carries for 39 yards. Johnson was picked up on waivers after he was cut by San Diego and has mostly played on special teams in the six games for which he was active.
“The most important thing is being more familiarized with the offense,” Johnson said. “I’ve been here for eight or nine weeks now and everything is smooth and going well. I’m ready to get out there. It depends on how much the coaches want me out there.
“It’s part of being a professional athlete every week, to be prepared.”
After placing middle linebacker Antonio Pierce on injured reserve with a disk problem in his neck, the Giants also are shuffling their linebackers. Second-year man Jonathan Goff, who also has played almost exclusively on special teams, took some snaps with the starters Wednesday.
“I’ve been working hard all season, learning as much as the other guys,” Goff said. “I want to be ready for the opportunity when it presents itself. Whatever happens this weekend, I’ll be ready to step in.”
New York’s linebackers will especially be challenged Sunday by Dallas’ strong and deep running backs corps, and by star tight end Jason Witten.
“He’s one of the guys who can hurt you a lot of different ways,” said weakside linebacker Michael Boley, who returned from a knee injury three weeks ago. “For us, it’s all about who’s next to step up. We look at it as whoever is going to step in will fill that role.”