Special teams captain Chase Blackburn said Monday that he hoped the aggravation of the sprained right MCL that kept him out of the last three preseason games is not as severe as the original injury.
However, that doesn’t mean the Giants’ kick coverage teams will have him back for Sunday night’s game in Indianapolis.
“I’ll be all right,” Blackburn said. “It’s not great when you re-injure it, but it’s not back to Square One like the last time I hurt it. It’s more stable, so hopefully I have a higher starting point than last time.”
Blackburn stands as one of the most experienced members of a coverage team that could use all the know-how possible. On kickoffs Sunday, the Giants allowed a 24.6-yard average on seven returns, including runbacks of 45 and 32 yards. Those contributed mightily to an average drive start at the Carolina 40 for the Panthers.
And Blackburn himself was partially to blame. He admitted getting burned on one return as he moved over to help Jason Pierre-Paul as he was being double-teamed.
“I went to chip a guy to help on a double-team, and I couldn’t get back to my lane in time,” Blackburn said. “I recognized it right away and I told Jason, ‘Look, you’re on your own as far as double-teams go. I can’t get over to you and get back in my lane.”
As it turned out, Pierre-Paul more than held his own. He later fought his way through a double-team to tackle Mike Goodson at the Carolina 20 on a fourth-quarter kickoff. The Panthers drove, but the drive ended when Terrell Thomas intercepted Matt Moore in the end zone.
“He got through double-teams, holds, everything else,” Blackburn said. “We just have to trust each other.”
If Blackburn doesn’t make it for Sunday, though, general lane integrity could well become an issue again.
That’s to say nothing of the blocked punt and Matt Dodge’s inconsistency.
“Our special teams did not help us win yesterday, not at all,” Blackburn said. “We definitely have to get better. But we’re all coachable. We’ll get it corrected.”