By Curt Macysyn
As if heading to Seattle to face the world champion Seahawks at CenturyLink Field was not challenging enough for the New York Giants, the team will have to do so without one of its most reliable defenders. Cornerback Prince Amukama was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Wednesday after tearing his biceps muscle against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night. The loss of Amukamara means that New York has now had its depth chart decimated by injuries in the defensive secondary. In addition, to Amukamara, Big Blue had previously placed Walter Thurmond II, Trumaine McBride and Cooper Taylor on the injured list.
The Giants’ other starting cornerback, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartrie, has been suffering with back and hamstring problems as well, limiting his effectiveness. Amukamara, in his fourth year from Nebraska, has developed into a reliable defender and had attained a (+4.7) grade by Pro Football Focus (subscription required). His grade was good was for 20th place among all cornerbacks in the NFL,
In order to fill the void on the roster, the Giants made a claim for ex-Baltimore Raven Chykie Brown, and the team was awarded Brown on Wednesday. Brown was a fifth round draft choice of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2011 NFL draft out of the University of Texas. Brown has mostly come off the bench for the Ravens, but did have two starts in the 2012 playoffs for Baltimore. He was a member of the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII championship squad.
Brown became a starter for the Ravens this season when Lardarius Webb was injured in the preseason. He was responsible for giving up a game-winning touchdown to the Bengals’ A.J Green in a 23-16 home loss on opening day, but still played regularly for the first six weeks of the season. Brown was kept off the active roster for Baltimore for games seven and eight of the season, but was returned to an active role for the Sunday Night Football clash against the Steelers at Heinz Field. Once again, things did not go well for Brown, as he allowed Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown to get free on what became a 54-yard touchdown catch in the Steelers’ 43-23 triumph.
The Ravens’ coaching staff had apparently seen enough and jettisoned Brown, and fellow veteran, Dominique Franks, in a roster purge on Tuesday.At the time of his release, Brown had a (-4.9) grade by Pro Football Focus, although in fairness to him, no member of the Ravens’ secondary with more than 120 snaps on the field has a positive grade, except for cornerback Jimmy Smith.
The Ravens’ pass defense overall has a terrible (-22.9) grade on the season, so changes were made. Big Blue has a slightly better team pass defense grade (-7.6) than Baltimore, but two of the three highest rated corners (Amukamara, McBride) are now sidelined for the season. Oft-injured Jayron Hosley played in 42 snaps on Monday to a (-2.4) grade, which is not surprising given his performance this entire year, going back to preseason. The Giants’ brass must think that one-day Hosley will turn it around because they keep sending him out there.
Finally, at first blush, linebacker Jacquian Williams’ 18 tackle game against the Indianapolis Colts must have seemed like a stellar effort, but a deeper dive shows something different. Williams was given a (-4.4) grade this week by Pro Football Focus. As the Giants’ cover linebacker, Williams was especially porous in pass coverage with a (-2.7) grade, as he was continually a step behind tight ends Colby Fleener and Dwayne Harris. His effort in stopping the rushing attack was not much better as he registered a (-1.0) on the evening. The moral of the story, tackles are good at or behind the of scrimmage, but less effective downfield.
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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.