New York is off to a great start this season with the usual suspects chipping in on a weekly basis. While Eli Manning and Victor Cruz have grabbed the headlines, it’s been the reserves who have offered the real story.
Since the season began, the Giants have had to mix and match personnel just to make up for the countless amounts injuries that have plagued the team since training camp. Injuries to Ahmad Bradshaw, Kenny Phillips, and Hakeem Nicks, have forced New York to turn coal into diamonds in a very short amount of time-but that’s exactly what they’ve done.Players like Andre Brown, Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden, Chase Blackburn, and Stevie Brown, have answered the bell at various times this season.
Back in week 3, Giants fans got a good look into just what the depth chart was all about when Andre Brown and Ramses Barden made Carolina the site of their coming out parties. Brown provided that much-needed spark on the ground for New York when he filled in for Bradshaw and rumbled for 113 yards and two scores to help the Giants embarrass the Panthers 36-7 on the road.
Ramses Barden did the same for the passing game when he stepped in for Hakeem Nicks. Barden reeled in 9 catches on ten targets for 138 yards, but the offense wasn’t the only side of the ball that needed some help.
With Terrell Thomas and Kenny Phillips both out, and Antrel Rolle banged up, third-year safety Stevie Brown has stepped up in the secondary and filled the role nicely. While the secondary continues to struggle as a whole, fans and coaches have to be pleased with Brown’s play. Through the first seven games of the season, Brown has 26 tackles and three interceptions.
Over the past five years, the Giants have relied heavily on Manning to win games, but this season has seen the unlikeliest of players step up and make a positive impact on the outcome. Its been guys like Stevie and Andre Brown, who have added that extra punch in the weeks they are needed.
Most people won’t notice the 11 tackles Chase Blackburn had Sunday afternoon, or the fumble that he caused to ensure a Giants victory, but that’s not what matters. The only thing that does matter is the extra stroke in the left hand column in the Monday morning paper.
The Giants may not have the most talented backups in the NFL, but the depth of that depth chart has given new meaning to term “team game”.