After suffering a high ankle sprain on August 24, Prince Amukamara said today that he expects to play on Thursday night as the Giants take on the Panthers. If he is able to go on Thursday, his play should be a huge boost to a secondary that has struggled every bit as much as fans feared going into this season.
We all know about the huge stats Kevin Olgetree put up on opening night against the dregs of a depleted cornerback group (lookin at you, Justin Tryon), but what’s been most concerning to me is the play of Corey Webster. After Amukamara’s injury, I said that Webster would have to hide the secondary’s deficiencies by locking up the other team’s best receiver every game. That hasn’t happened. In Week 1, Webster was mostly matched up with Dez Bryant, who torched him on slant after slant to the tune of 85 yards receiving. Against the Bucs, Webster allowed Vincent Jackson to amass 128 receiving yards, including a 29-yard touchdown.
The Giants’ secondary problem isn’t likely to fix itself, but what we can expect to see is an improvement against other teams’ second- and third- receivers. With Amukamara or Jayron Hosley guarding Ogletree, rather than Michael Coe and Justin Tryon, there’s no way Ogletree would have totaled his ridiculous 114 yards and 2 touchdowns (for comparison, he had only 1 catch for 29 yards in Week 2 vs. the Seahawks). The more pressing long-term issue is the showing of Webster against the top guys. He was able to intercept Josh Freeman on Sunday, but that one play doesn’t excuse 2 games of otherwise sub-par performance.
As the only established cornerback on the team, Webster quietly might be the least replaceable player on the roster outside of Eli Manning. With games against Steve Smith and DeSean Jackson coming up, Giants fans have to cross our collective fingers that Webster will return to the level of play we’re accustomed to seeing from him soon. If not, expect to see a lot more shootouts like Sunday.