Analysis: Stevie tears ACL

August, 25, 2013
8/25/13
5:15
PM ET
As initially feared, Stevie Brown tore his left ACL on Saturday night when he fell to the turf untouched on an interception return.

It's a big blow for a veteran who was finally hoping to show what he can do as a full-time starter in a contract year. And it's going to be yet another obstacle for a Giants defense that already has major injuries to deal with.

What it means: Brown was a playmaker on a defense that needs playmakers in the secondary. Last year, he led the team with eight interceptions and had 307 yards off those interceptions. While it remained to be seen whether or not Brown could have duplicated those numbers or not, the Giants felt Brown was good enough to be their starter full time and let Kenny Phillips and his troublesome knee walk in free agency in the first place.

[+] EnlargeStevie Brown
Al Bello/Getty ImagesStevie Brown suffered an ACL tear in Saturday's preseason game.
Antrel Rolle is already nursing a sprained ankle, but he should be back in practice this week and will be ready for the season opener. Rolle made a concerted effort to spend as much time as he could with Brown on and off the field to develop chemistry and rapport. Now Rolle will have two weeks to get to know Ryan Mundy, Brown's replacement, even better on the field together.

The Giants' defense was already banged up. Jason Pierre-Paul, the star of the defense, is currently making his way back from back surgery in the offseason, and the hope is he will be ready for the opener on Sept. 8 at Dallas. The linebackers are healthy, but there's a question mark since the Giants lost a lot of experience in the offseason with Michael Boley and Chase Blackburn gone. And in the secondary, Corey Webster has been nursing groin and knee injuries but could practice soon. Tom Coughlin thinks Webster will be able to play in the opener. Cornerback Terrell Thomas is still making his way back from a third ACL injury as well.

What's next: Mundy will start and has experience filling in for an injured starter. In Pittsburgh, he played behind Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark. The Giants have been impressed with Mundy's professionalism -- something Rolle described as a "militant" approach.

The depth at safety will be tested. Will Hill has to serve a four-game suspension to start the season. Rookie Cooper Taylor has been hampered by a hamstring injury most of camp, and Coughlin said today on a conference call that he wants to see what Taylor can do. Tyler Sash will have every opportunity to continue a solid preseason and become perhaps the third safety when the season starts.

Coughlin said the team has not discussed the idea of converting Thomas to safety since early in the offseason. The head coach reiterated that the goal is to get Thomas back on the field and feeling confident in his knee. But the coach added that he wants to get through the final preseason game and did not rule out anything.

As far as the three-safety look Perry Fewell has used in the past, the Giants have been using two linebackers and an extra defensive back more during passing situations in camp. Now with Brown gone, the Giants may go more with extra defensive backs like Aaron Ross, Thomas and/or Jayron Hosley to go with Rolle and Mundy in the secondary.

Outside possibilities: Perhaps there is always the possibility that the team could look to add a veteran safety released by another team in the near future. But any safety that comes in will have to learn a whole new system with little time left before the opener.

Many Giants fans are wondering about Phillips, who was released by the Eagles according to ProFootballTalk.com. But as Dan Graziano tweeted earlier, the Giants had concerns about Phillips' knee when they let him sign with the Eagles, and you'd have to wonder if Phillips' health is the reason why things didn't work out in Philadelphia. Perhaps the Giants will give Phillips a look soon or later down the road since he knows the system and personnel. But the Giants have typically been right when letting a veteran player walk in free agency, especially when considering somebody with a previous health concern.

Tell us what you want to see the Giants do now that Brown is out.
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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