Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks has been ruled out for the New York Giants against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, September 20 (8:20 p.m. EDT). But don't rule out the defending Super Bowl champions. As I've told you, they can win the game without Nicks, Ahmad Bradshaw, David Diehl and Domenik Hixon. But these five players must step in and step up for it to happen.
Jacquian Williams (LB) -- Williams is the team's fastest linebacker and may be asked to spy on the mobile Cam Newton, who rushed for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Williams made 78 tackles last year, but he missed most of training camp with injury. Will he be up to speed?
Jayron Hosley (CB) -- There's no way around it. The Giants' secondary has been abused through the first two weeks of the season, but Hosley showed improvement against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. With Michael Coe and Prince Amukamara banged up, Hosley has no safety net this week.
Jason Pierre-Paul (DE) -- Clearly, the Giants No. 1 task on defense will be to limit Newton, who through two games has completed 37 of 53 passes for 556 yards and two touchdowns. The disruptive Pierre-Paul has to pressure him into poor throws or force a fumble -- we've seen him do it before.
Andrew Brown (RB) -- When Bradshaw injured his neck in the second quarter against Tampa Bay, Brown stepped in and rushed for 71 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown. This week, Brown will be asked to carry the load from the start with David Wilson not completely out of Tom Coughlin's doghouse for his opening-night fumble against the Dallas Cowboys.
Rueben Randle (WR) -- Like Brown, it's Randle's turn to shine in the absences of Nicks and Hixon. Randle may see time on offense, but his biggest impact could come on special teams as a punt returner, a role normally held down by Hixon. One big catch or punt return can make a big difference.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. He grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans. Adam follows back Giants fans on Twitter @PegCitySports.
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Hakeem Nicks
- Domenik Hixon
- Ahmad Bradshaw
- Jacquian Williams
- the New York Giants
- Carolina Panthers
- Cam Newton
- Jayron Hosley