Injuries have been a major story with the Giants and with one more game to go this season, a meaningless one playoff-wise, everyone is sitting around contemplating what might have been.
Two integral Giant captains, WR Victor Cruz and MLB Jon Beason, are two of the nearly two dozen players the Giants placed on injured reserve this season. Their services were sorely missed and one wonders where the Giants would be right now if these two key players were able to play out the season.
"It’s been tough being out, obviously, during that span of those games that we lost because you feel helpless, like you want to do something but you can’t," Cruz told reporters this week. "But watching Odell has been fun. He’s been great. That kid is a heck of an athlete, heck of a ball player. Just seeing the things that he’s doing out there is motivating me to come back and be able to play next to him and do some really good things next year."
Cruz went down with a torn patellar tendon in the Giants' first meeting with Philadelphia in October. It was Beckham's second game as a pro. The Giants were still breaking OBJ in, so we never got to see the full effect of both players on the field at the same time.
It's no guarantee that a Cruz/Beckham tandem would produce a bonanza of points, but we'd sure like to see it. There is still only one football, so it's possible that had Cruz not gotten hurt, Beckham's targets would be severely limited. Still, it's a good problem to have.
Beason, one of the Giants' defensive captains and the one who wears the headset on the field, tore a ligament and fractured the sesamoid bone in his toe in the team's minicamp in June. He played in just four games and was clearly not himself on the field this season. The defense struggled without him, especially against the run. It was hard for Beason to watch.
"Obviously, you wish you can contribute," said Beason in an interview session this week. "You want to be the reason why things are going well and not why they are going bad. You look at what the guys are able to do. You sit back and watch the film, and you say, ‘it’s really a matter of taking ownership and being where you are supposed to be, being accountable.’ That was a big thing. You don’t give up the huge rushing games we have or in terms of points scored against us. It was pretty bad, and pretty consistently bad for a while, but you step up and you look at yourself first and see how you can get better. I think that is what guys did individually."
One player that righted the ship was Beason's replacement, Jameel McClain, who shifted to MLB from the outside. McClain leads the Giants n tackles with 108 (68 solo), has two sacks and fumble recovery. Beason believes the defense will benefit greatly in 2015 with McClain and himself on the field together.
"I think Jameel McClain has done a great job, first off. It is a lot of pressure to be a mike linebacker," said Beason. "A lot of times when things go well, you don’t necessarily get the praise for it. When things go bad, you usually take the blame for it. It is kind of like being a quarterback. He has done a great job, he has the personality for it. He’s made some huge plays for us. He is going to be a big part of what we are doing next year. I think it is something we can build off of."
Both Beason and Cruz are rehabbing on schedule, and will come back to a more-fortified Giants roster in 2015.