By Curt Macysyn
The New York Football Giants face off against the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, where the visitors are 4-0 since the stadium opened in 2009. Both teams are dealing with injuries to star defensive players coming off surgery in the off-season. Control of the line of scrimmage will be critical in this key NFC east match-up.
New York Giants
There will be a brown-out in Dallas for the Giants, as a pair of key performers for New York were injured in the preseason. The Giants lost starting free safety Stevie Brown for the year after he suffered a torn ACL in a preseason loss to the New York Jets. Brown led New York with eight interceptions last year, including two against Tony Romo on Oct. 28, 2012 in a Giants 28-24 victory over the Cowboys. Free agent pickup Ryan Mundy becomes the starter. Mundy has four years experience after being drafted out of West Virginia University in 2008 by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In the preseason’s final game against New England, running back Andre Brown suffered a fractured leg, and he was placed on the injured reserved-designated for return list. That means Andre Brown is out for at least six weeks, but can return Nov. 11 against the Oakland Raiders.
Right tackle David Diehl had thumb surgery in August and is out for Sunday’s contest. His place on a revamped offensive line will be taken by rookie Justin Pugh.
Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul looks to make his 2013 debut after undergoing back surgery in June. Pierre-Paul is key to the Giants pass rush, but only came off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list during the last week of August. On the plus side, Pierre-Paul did get to practice this week, but he has consistently stated that he will not play unless 100 percent.
Another player off the PUP list, fullback Henry Hynoski, appears ready to play, but he has also had a limited workload during practice. Hynoski injured his left knee on the first day of organized team activities (OTAs) in May. If Hynoski cannot go, then Bear Pascoe will start at fullback.
Star receiver Victor Cruz suffered a bruised heel in the preseason’s second week and missed the remaining two games. Cruz returned to practice on Monday and appears ready to go without any restrictions. Center David Baas sprained his knee against the Indianapolis Colts and will not play. New York had to shift guard Kevin Boothe to center for what they hope is a temporary move.
Rookie defensive tackle Damontre Moore started the preseason with a splash, blocking a punt against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Moore hurt his shoulder in the game and missed the remainder of the preseason. His participation for Sunday night is questionable.
Backup tight end Adrien Robinson injured his foot in the final preseason game and was unable to practice this week. It is doubtful that he suits up on Sunday.
The Dallas Cowboys are also dealing with some key injuries on defense. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jay Ratliff was moved to the physically unable to perform (PUP) list which means he’ll miss the first six weeks of the season. Untested Nick Hayden appears to be the choice to replace Ratliff on the inside. Also, versatile offensive lineman Ryan Cook was placed an injured reserve with a right knee injury, so he’s out for the entire season.
It appear likely that defensive end Anthony Spencer may not be ready for the season opener after undergoing knee surgery in July. Spencer injured his knee during the team’s conditioning test. Spencer is a key edge pass rusher, and if he can’t go, then George Selvie will take his place. Selvie is playing for his fourth team in his five years in the league.
Defensive lineman Ben Bass was limited in practice this week with a shoulder injury, which was first reported on Thursday.
On offense, the Cowboys are relatively healthy with guard Ronald Leary (knee) being the only starter of concern. But Leary did practice with the first team this week, so his participation in Sunday’s game looks good. Backup running back Lance Dunbar (sprained foot) is questionable and did not practice this week.
Special teams ace Danny McCray does not appear likely to play because of a hamstring pull. McCray was unable to practice this week.
For more news and updates, visit Giants Central.
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on Examiner.com.