The New York Giants didn't just lose a day of preparation with the shift of the Minnesota game to Monday, they lost Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith to a season-ending knee injury. Smith, who set a franchise record with 107 catches in 2009, tore cartilage in his left knee when he was tackled from behind on his only catch in the 21-3 victory over the Vikings, his first game back after missing four with a partially torn chest muscle.
Soon after Smith departed the game at Ford Field, the Giantssaid he had injured a hamstring. An MRI on Tuesday revealed the knee problem.
"He fights his way back, he gets back on the field, he gets a little bit acclimated to game conditions again and then is injured," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "I tried to encourage him after the game because the first news was that it may have been a hamstring or something like that or that type of injury there in the outside back part of the knee. Unfortunately it turned out to be more than that."
Smith follows fellow receivers Domenik Hixon, Victor Cruz, Ramses Barden and the since-waived Sinorice Moss onto injured reserve list. Smith, who's due to be a free agent after the season, finishes with 48 catches, 529 yards and three touchdowns in nine games. He had 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns last season in addition to the 107 catches.
Mario Manningham, who had replaced Smith last month, injured a hip flexor against Minnesota but could play for this Sunday's showdown for the NFC East lead against visiting Philadelphia. If Manningham isn't ready then Derek Hagan, re-signed last month, would start alongside Nicks, who just returned himself against the Vikings after missing two games with a leg injury.
"It's obviously unfortunate for Steve. I feel for him," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. "That's a tough situation. The good thing is we have a lot of receivers because of the injuries earlier in the year who have been here for the last month or so who are up to date on what's going on.
"We have Hakeem back and Mario, those guys are playing well. Hagan has been here for a month and is playing well and Michael Clayton. We have numbers now where we can put guys in different positions and they can go out there and play well."
Reserve linebacker Clint Sintim beat Smith in becoming the 11th Giant to suffer a season-ending injury, having torn an ACL earlier in the Minnesota game. Sintim went on injured reserve on Wednesday. Defensive end Alex Hall was signed to take his place. When Smith goes on I.R., there will be another opening on the 53-man roster.
"I will tell you that Steve is a Pro Bowl caliber wide receiver," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "But they also have some other guys that are Pro Bowl-caliber wide receivers and then they've got a tight end that is special and running backs that can catch the football, so they've got a fully loaded arsenal there."