The most encouraging injury news to come out of today is that Michael Boley practiced again, leading Tom Coughlin to believe he'll take at least a part-time, if not full-time role in Sunday's game in Dallas.
Why is that so important? Because assuming Boley's hip cooperates, having the athletic linebacker back on the weakside will not only allow the Giants to apply more pressure to Tony Romo, but will also help them keep Romo honest with his coverage abilities against Jason Witten and Marion Barber.
So Coughlin and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan are waiting breathlessly to see whether Boley's hip will stand up to another day of practice.
"He's done well," Coughlin said after practice today. "He's done everything we've asked him to do and then some, to be honest with you."
Coughlin said he moved around well in team drills. But Sheridan only hopes he can move around just as well against the Cowboys offense come Sunday night.
"Yeah, we are counting on it," Sheridan said. "I’m assuming that he is going to be healthy enough to actually play. But yeah, he is a very athletic kind of kid. And as much as anything, our motivation for acquiring him in the offseason was because he is an athletic kid in space and can really cover. So you might not feel as compelled to go to nickel on first and second down for some of those groupings if you could play a guy like that."
One of those groupings is the two-tight end set, which Sheridan said has become a Dallas staple. They love to get 6-6, 266-pound tight end Martellus Bennett on the field with Witten as much to free up the five-time Pro Bowler as to add extra protection for Tony Romo. It worked last week, as Witten caught a team-high five balls for 71 yards. Bennett had one catch for 13 yards. But mostly, it kept the Bucs packed in, and that eventually allowed Romo to find Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton on second-half touchdown throws of 66 and 80 yards.
Having an athletic and fast Boley in coverage instead of Chase Blackburn would undoubtedly strengthen the defensive balance.
Of course, Boley has only gone through two full practices since the offseason. But the fact that he did so without incident is encouraging. Still, Sheridan wasn't counting on anything.
"It’s hard go gauge here; as up-tempo as we try to practice, it is still not ‘full go rounds,’" Sheridan said. "But he looks good. He doesn’t look like he has been hampered by it or limping around or any of that stuff, but is hard to tell until you get full live bullets."
Less encouraging was the absence of former Cowboys defensive tackle Chris Canty. He pulled up lame with a calf injury during yesterday's practice, and stayed inside for treatment throughout today's workout.
"It's pretty much day-to-day," Coughlin said. "We'll see."
Coughlin wasn't sure if the calf injury was a residual effect from the hamstring tear that kept Canty sidelined for a month.
"There's no way of saying that," Coughlin said. "He took a second step and had an issue."
They say the more you can do, the better off you are in the NFL. Well, Blackburn has always taken that to heart. You could see it at the end of practice as he worked on long-snapping with regular punt snapper Zak DeOssie.
"I've been doing that a long time," Blackburn said. "In college, I did all the short (field goal) snapping. I practice it a couple of times each week. Hey, you never know."