Giants still mixing and matching receivers

In a season where they have suffered more season-ending injuries

than any other team in the NFL, the New York Giants will face the

rival Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) on Sunday with a depleted and

devastated receiving corps.

After losing Domenik Hixon to a torn ACL – his second in two

years – for the season and Mario Manningham to a concussion this

week, the Giants (1-1) will have to patch things together to give

quarterback Eli Manning some reliable targets for their showdown in

Philadelphia.

”We have some different people we can use,” Giants coach Tom

Coughlin said after a practice that saw regular starter Hakeem

Nicks paired with second-year player Victor Cruz with the first

unit. ”We have a few ways we can go.”

Manningham did not practice Friday. He was away from the Timex

Performance Center, receiving the mandatory league tests to see if

he can be cleared to play Sunday. Since he had not practiced all

week and had not received clearance, Manningham is doubtful.

The Giants signed veteran Michael Clayton to replace Hixon, who

was placed on injured reserve. Clayton was with the team last year

and in training camp before being waived. Clayton was a former No.

1 draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who caught two passes in

six games with the Giants in 2010.

Clayton was asked if he could help the team’s plight at wide

receiver right away.

”Whatever they need me to do,” Clayton said. ”I stayed active

and was working out every day. I was anticipating a call. You never

know what’s going to happen and you never know how long it’s going

to last. I’m just here to play.”

Nicks, the team’s leading receiver with 11 receptions, doesn’t

think that there’s any added pressure on him being the lone healthy

starting receiver.

”I don’t want to try to do too much,” said Nicks, who was also

battling a knee injury last week and into the Giants’ 28-16 win

over the St. Louis Rams Monday. ”I don’t want to overdo anything.

I just have to stick to the gameplan and contribute whatever I can

to the team. I’m approaching this game like I always do. I think if

you look at it that I’m the only one, then it could be a problem.

But the other receivers have practiced well and look good.”

Cruz, who was signed as a free agent out of UMass last year,

missed all of last season with a knee injury. He has two career

receptions for 17 yards. It’s more than likely he’ll get the start

against the Eagles.

”I’m definitely going to be more involved in the offense,”

Cruz said. ”I guess I expected that. I think I’ve had a great week

of practice and I’m up for the challenge. I feel comfortable both

as a wide out and in the slot and I played both this week in

practice. It’s definitely a challenge for me. I just have to be

ready. I know my responsibilities are higher and I understand that

role. I have to prepare as if I’m going to start.”

Brandon Stokley, the 13-year NFL veteran, was brought in just

last week to help the injury-riddled receiving corps. The

35-year-old Stokley had 31 receptions last year for the Seattle

Seahawks.

”He’s learned the game plan pretty well and knows what to do,”

Coughlin said. ”We would prefer to have him (in the slot), but he

has to play the other spot as well. He can do it.”

Coughlin hinted that rookie Jerrel Jernigan, the team’s

third-round draft pick out of Troy, would be activated for Sunday’s

game and could also be in the mix.

”It’s a great opportunity for these guys,” Coughlin said.

”I feel like we have the talent to get the job done,” Cruz

said. ”We’ll be there and we’ll be ready.”

Meanwhile, defensive end Osi Umenyiora will not play Sunday.

Umenyiora, recovering from knee surgery, had hoped to return for

the critical game against the Eagles. Rookie cornerback Prince

Amukamara, recovering from a broken foot, was also declared

out.

Center David Baas (lower leg), tight end Travis Beckum

(hamstring) and defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy (knee) are probable.

Defensive end Justin Tuck did not practice due to a death in his

family, but he is expected to play Sunday.

Eagles QB Michael Vick is listed on their injury chart as

questionable after suffering a concussion, but Coughlin expects

Vick to play. After practice in Philadelphia on Friday, Vick

pronounced himself ready.

”I think you have to plan to face him, because he’s

practicing,” Coughlin said.

Second-year defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is ready to face the

elusive Vick.

”He’s going to be pretty vulnerable (after the head injury), so

we’re going to go after him,” Pierre-Paul said. ”We know we’ve

had a lot of success in the past against him. We’re going to

dominate the line and continue to get after him. If it takes all 11

of us, we’ll get him. I’d rather him stay in the pocket against us

than run.

”If he stays in the pocket, he’s in trouble.”