You can't help but feel sorry for Aaron Ross. Just when it looked like he might become a useful part of the secondary, his left hamstring acted up again and knocked him out of practice and, probably, for Monday's game.
Now, with both Ross and Corey Webster (knee) expected to be sidelined, it will fall to the demoted Kevin Dockery to start at left cornerback. Ross, who was taking snaps this week at both corner and safety, was slated to start for Webster.
The hamstring, part of the two-pronged problem that caused him to miss the first nine games before his comeback as a safety, acted up again after yesterday's practice. And Tom Coughlin said there's only a chance that he, along with Webster, could be gametime decisions.
"I'm concerned, yes," Coughlin said. "It's a fair question. It's too bad the English language can't allow for some other way to say that. I am concerned.
"I don't think it's quite as bad (as before), but it's day-to-day."
When asked if he and Webster could be gametime decisions, Coughlin only said, "possibly."
Possiblys are almost never good. And for Ross, who has had such severe hamstring problems this year, the question may soon become not when, but if, he'll ever get on the field again in 2009.
Ross did not make himself available to address that matter, or any other. But Terrell Thomas, his replacement at right corner and the Giants' top defensive back right now, was hopeful that Ross' absence will be a short-term thing.
"He finished the whole practice," Thomas said. "It was his first practice back after playing his first full game, so you're going to have some nicks and bumps. Hopefully, with a couple of days of rest, we can have him on Monday."
Asked whether he thought Ross would play, Thomas said, "I think he will."
For the time being, however, the coaches spent yesterday preparing Dockery for the lead role, while putting nickelback Bruce Johnson on alert that he could also see an expanded role.
So, if all stays the same, Monday night's starting secondary will look like this going right to left: Thomas, Michael Johnson, C.C. Brown, and Dockery. Considering Dockery, once a vital part of the secondary before he was demoted almost directly out of training camp for the undrafted rookie Johnson, has played little in the defense this year, that can't be a comforting thought heading into a matchup with a much-improved Jason Campbell.
Then again, this is the final year of Dockery's contract, and a good showing against a division rival wouldn't hurt his prospects for a new deal in the offseason.
"Monday night, primetime, division game, I'll definitely be jacked up," Dockery said. "This team and I both have a lot at stake here, so I just have to go out and give them what they want.
"I try not to think about next year. I still have three more games on my contract with the Giants. Having a great game would only help."
The Giants can only hope, especially after watching the secondary -- with Webster -- allow a slew of big plays the past two games. The Redskins sit right in the middle of the league in the production of big pass plays, and the Giants have given up the ninth-most big plays in the league. Now, with the incendiary Brown back at safety and a rusty Dockery probably facing Santana Moss, the outlook can't be good.
Even if Ross does play, it's unlikely he'll be at full speed.
The injury couldn't have come at a worse time.