3 Major Question Marks

AP Photo - Don Heupel

The Giants might be forced to play the Bucs without three of their starters.

Shaun O'Hara, Kawika Mitchell and Sam Madison did not practice Wednesday, but head coach Tom Coughlin was non-commital about their availability for Sunday's NFC Wild Card game at Tampa Bay.

"Each one of them is making progress," Coughlin said. "They are not going to work today. But I'm encouraged. We'll have to see."

All three players were hurt in Saturday's loss to New England. O'Hara, the team's center, and Mitchell, the starting strongside linebacker, sprained a medical collateral ligament in their knee. Madison, the Giants' right cornerback, suffered an abdominal strain.

Sprained MCLs generally take at least a couple of weeks to heal, but O'Hara and/or Mitchell might beat that timetable.

"Each one is different," Coughlin said. "Each one is individual. The response has to do with swelling and how much flexibility there is in the knee and the strength of the knee. They have all been fitted right away for a brace. And they are in a brace. So we'll see."

Coughlin acknowledged that risk of further injury will be a factor in determining each player's ability to play this week.

"That is a medical decision," Coughlin said. "And the medical people are not going to make a decision which puts the player in jeopardy. So if the player is capable of doing the things that he has to do by his position in order to perform well, he passes the test with the medical people, and then they will make it on that. If he is not ready, then obviously they won't allow him to play."

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