|Giants safety Stevie Brown has played well of late in place of injured starter Kenny Phillips. (US Presswire)|
C.C. was beaten deep several times in 2009, but Stevie played significantly better on Sunday after Phillips went down with an MCL sprain. More importantly, Fewell said the defense didn’t have to change anything schematically when Brown came in the game.
“I thought Stevie Brown came in and did a nice job,” Fewell said. “To be put in that position and that type of situation, he really didn’t have any major errors. He came in and he tackled well. Obviously, we would’ve loved to have Kenny in there because we have some things that we like to do with Kenny specifically; it wasn’t that much of an alteration.”
Fewell also got Tyler Sash back in practice this week after the second-year safety served a four-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy (Sash maintains it was for an Adderall prescription).
While he apparently won’t be starting for Phillips this week, Sash clearly dropped a couple of pounds and Coughlin was happy to see how quickly the former Iowa Hawkeye was moving.
Even if he doesn’t start Sunday, though, Sash can still make a difference on special teams and with his knowledge of the defense.
“It’s always good to get a player back that has been with you and knows your system and has knowledge and has experience,” Fewell said.
Is he working hard or not? As discussed on Wednesday, rookie wide receiver Rueben Randle’s work ethic was questioned by television analyst and former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Cris Collinsworth. So, what does offensive coordinator Gilbride think of Randle's progress?
“I think he’s shown some improvement the last couple of weeks in all areas and I think we’re looking forward to him making some plays for us,” Gilbride said of Randle, who could be needed this week because of injuries. “He needs to make some plays for us and he’s going to be in a position where the ball is going to come his way and he certainly catches it well enough.
"Now it’s a matter of doing the things necessary to get uncovered, get open and you hope that he has the ability to do that. I think he does, but there’s certainly a level of understanding what’s happening out on the field, what the defense is doing, what adjustments you have to make so that you can put yourself where you’ve gotten some separation.”
In other words, the physical stuff is there for Randle. The intangibles? Well, that’s a problem that any rookie faces.
He was drafted for offense: First-round pick running back David Wilson had his breakout performance as a kick returner last week (he averaged 36.2 yards per return).
“That’s great,” Gilbride said. “Now we need him to do it on offense.”
Gilbride explained that Wilson hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunities on offense yet, but once he does, he’ll start to see more than the couple of touches per game he’s seen on that side of the ball.
For now, Ahmad Bradshaw is still the starter and Andre Brown is the backup and Gilbride made it seem like the more the Giants throw, the more Bradshaw will play because of his ability to protect quarterback Eli Manning.
Who didn’t practice? WLB Michael Boley (hamstring), CB Jayron Hosley (hamstring) RG Chris Snee (hip), WR Hakeem Nicks (knee/foot) and CB Corey Webster (hand/hamstring) were inactive at Thursday’s practice while DT Rocky Bernard (quadriceps), Phillips (knee), S Antrel Rolle (knee) and WR Ramses Barden (concussion) were all absent.
Nicks has been declared “out” for Sunday while Coughlin said there hasn’t been any change in Barden’s diagnosis.
It’s likely that WR Domenik Hixon will start opposite WR Victor Cruz this week. The two combined for 15 catches, 223 yards and a touchdown in the Week 4 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Webster’s hamstring injury is news. He played last week with a cast over his broken right hand, but the hamstring -- which Webster says has bothered him for a week or so -- had not been disclosed until Thursday. Regardless, he said he expects to practice Friday and play Sunday.
Coughlin said the Giants are “hoping and feeling” that Rolle will play Sunday.
Fewell said the Giants have not determined whether DTs Markus Kuhn or Marvin Austin would start if Bernard could not play on Sunday.
RT David Diehl (knee) and WLB Keith Rivers (hamstring) were both limited while C David Baas (hand) and CB Michael Coe (hamstring) participated fully at Thursday’s practice.
We reported earlier that Snee was active, but the Giants’ practice report says that he was not. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said that Mitch Petrus would start if Snee couldn’t play on Sunday. Petrus struggled in the preseason (he was actually released once and re-signed), but he says he excels against larger interior lineman, like those of the Browns.
Follow the Giants and Alex Raskin @CBSGiants and @AlexRaskinNYC.