With Jabrill Peppers missing practice for a second straight day, it’s unlikely the 24-year-old will take field when the Giants head to Los Angeles to face the Rams on Sunday.
His absence leaves multiple voids in Big Blue’s lineup, not just as the starting strong safety, but as the team’s primary punt returner as well.
But his leadership is a part of his game that shouldn’t be understated, either.
“He's the energy guy,” defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence said. "He brings a lot of energy to the group, positivity, motor, things like that. Now you've got to fill that void. Obviously he's an amazing player and we'd love to have him play, but now someone else has to take on that role. That's why you have second team or backup guys that fill that role.”
“Anytime you have a player of Jabrill's caliber that you have to replace, it's going to take a few guys to replace him,” special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said. “He does a bunch of different jobs. He means a lot to our football team, that's why he's got a "C" on his chest. It's hard to replace that guy but you just do the best that you can.”
Peppers injured his ankle returning a punt in the first quarter of the Giants’ Week 3 loss to the 49ers, but his 12.5 yards per return is good for fourth in the league.
McGaughey wouldn’t tip his hand as to who the Giants might have back there on Sunday.
"We have a couple other options,” he said. “C.J. [Board] is back there, Darius Slayton is back there. We have a bunch of other options. Guys that have been out there who have been catching punts every day since training camp. We have full confidence in those guys and whoever we put in the game; they will do a good job."
“The good thing about those guys is that they can tackle and there's a willingness to be involved with the run,” Graham said. “The great benefit is that they have man-to-man coverage skills. So now you're working with something. [The Rams] are all over the place with motion, so now you've got guys who can play in multiple coverages with true cornerback skills.”
Without Peppers, and with the Giants already off to an 0-3 start, the margin of error for his replacements is getting smaller and smaller.