The risk-reward of using a key player on special teams is always present and that risk was clearly evident on Sunday when Adoree ‘Jackson, by far the Giants’ best cornerback, was injured while returning a punt in a 31-18 loss to the Lions at MetLife Stadium.
Jackson fell early in the second quarter after lining up a punt and returning it 3 yards. He limped off with a knee injury, believed to be a sprained medial collateral ligament. An MCL sprain typically involves four to six weeks of recovery time.
Why was Jackson returning punts? Richie James lost his job after missing two punts in the loss to the Seahawks. Jackson returned punts in college at USC and also earlier in his NFL career with the Titans.
“I would say there is a risk in playing with every player, regardless of position,” Daboll said. “I’ve told you before: I’ve been on a lot of teams where the starting receivers, starting DBs have played. You just try to do what’s best for the team. And I hope he’ll be back as soon as he can.
In what could be a blow to the already depleted wide receiver position, rookie Wan’Dale Robinson had nine catches for 100 yards but didn’t finish the game with a knee injury that didn’t look promising.
“Yeah, he looked like he was in a lot of pain,” Daboll said.
“We know how explosive he can be, we know the plays he can make,” Saquon Barkley said. “Not having him there is definitely going to be a loss.”
The game was brutal for the defensive backfield. In addition to losing Jackson, Fabian Moreau, a solid replacement as starting cornerback in place of Aaron Robinson, suffered a rib injury.
On offense, Tire Phillips, replacing the starting right tackle as rookie Evan Neal heals from a knee injury, went down early in the second quarter with a neck problem. He was replaced by Matt Peart, who received his first significant playing time since being called up after knee surgery last season.
In the third quarter, center Jon Feliciano was sent off with a neck problem. He was replaced by Nick Gates.
“I’m fine,” said Feliciano, who added that x-rays taken after the match were negative. “I will do everything to be there on Thursday. We will see.”
Safety Jason Pinnock is out with a jaw injury, the sixth Giants player to go down.
Graham Gano missed time in training last week due to illness and said he received four intravenous injections on Sunday. He said he felt “terrible” but did not use his illness as an excuse for what happened in the game, which was played amid strong winds. He didn’t make any of his extra point attempts – the first was blocked, the second sounded off the right post.
“I just have to do a better job,” Gano said. “I can’t blame the wind, I really can’t blame anything. I just have to push it through. If they send me there, they expect me to do well, so it doesn’t matter how I feel , I just have to pass and kick.
Shane Lemieux started at left guard. It was his first appearance since the 2021 season opener. He injured his knee and required surgery and missed the rest of this season. He spent most of this season on injured reserve after toe surgery. He replaced rookie Josh Ezeudu in the starting lineup. Ezeudu has started the last two games in place of Ben Bredeson, who remains out with a knee injury. Ezeudu replaced Lemieux in the second half.
Lions running back Jamaal Williams rushed for a modest 64 yards on 17 carries, but he scored three rushing touchdowns. The Giants defense couldn’t stop her when she had to approach the goal line.
Saquon Barkley, who has been so good all season, has been stuffed by the Detroit defense, managing just 22 yards rushing on 15 carries for an alarming 1.5 yards per touch. As the game progressed, he looked hesitant as he searched for holes that never opened.
Aidan Hutchinson, the Lions’ first pick, made an athletic interception from Giants quarterback Daniel Jones that changed the game. The Giants led 6-3 and time and Hutchinson’s pick led to a TD that gave the Lions a 10-6 they would never give up on. Hutchinson finished with three tackles, the interception and a fumble recovery.
341: That’s how many yards Jones threw for and yet they felt empty considering the result and the fact that the Giants were outplayed for most of the day.
“Nothing was good enough. Nothing was up to scratch.”
– Giants head coach Brian Daboll
New York Post