EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants’ defensive gameplan for the Philadelphia Eagles is going to have a major section on stopping Michael Vick.
As far as Tom Coughlin was concerned Tuesday, the elusive Eagles quarterback is going to play, concussion or not.
“I expect Michael Vick will play and if he can’t play, I am sure he will,” Coughlin said on a conference call a day after the Giants (1-1) knocked off the St. Louis Rams.
Vick was knocked out of Sunday night’s game against Atlanta with a third-quarter concussion, forcing Mike Kafka to finish. Philadelphia coach Andy Reid has not said whether Kafka or Vince Young would start if Vick can’t.
Either way, Coughlin isn’t developing two gameplans for the Eagles, one with Vick and one without.
“I think if Michael Vick can play, he will play,” Coughlin reiterated when asked about Vick a second time in his conference call.
Defensive end Justin Tuck would like to see Vick play on Sunday in Philadelphia.
“I mean, that guy is a tremendous athlete,” Tuck said after recording 1½ sacks on Monday night in his season debut. “Obviously — as he goes, that offense goes — you always want to beat teams at their best. Me, personally, I would love for him to play. I think he brings out the best in us, too.”
Tuck said the Giants might suffer a letdown if Vick isn’t in the lineup.
“If he’s playing, we know we have to be on our toes,” Tuck said. “We all know that Philadelphia is a great football team. We’re going to have a great game regardless of if Vick plays or not.”
The Giants came close to turning in a great game against Vick in December, building a 31-10 lead with less than eight minutes to play.
One of the most memorable meltdowns in NFL history followed as Vick rallied the Eagles for three touchdown to tie the game and then watched from the sideline as DeSean Jackson scored on a 65-yard punt return on the final play to basically give the Eagles the NFC East title.
While he will use the memory of that game as motivation, Coughlin said the Giants weren’t a fourth-quarter team last season.
“The theme that we had throughout the preseason, not just based on that game, but based on a lot of our games quite frankly, is to finish,” Coughlin said. “We’ll continue for that to be one of our themes and constantly work to finish the game stronger. That is something we’ll present to our players again this week.”
When pressed about the effects of the game, Coughlin admitted there are some games a coach never forgets.
“There isn’t any question,” he said, “and that will be one of them.”
The banged-up Giants might get a little help this week.
Barring a setback, two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora might return to practice as early as Thursday. He had arthroscopic surgery about two weeks into training camp and has not practiced with the team since the operation. He looked fast simulating pass rush drills while working out with the trainers on Friday.
“We certainly hope Osi will be ready to go,” Coughlin said. “We hope to have him on the practice field. Tomorrow’s (Wednesday) really not going to be a full-speed practice, so it’ll be Thursday before that takes place. But hopefully Thursday Osi will be ready to practice.”
On the injury front, Giants receiver Mario Manningham was feeling better on Tuesday after missing the second half with a concussion. He was undergoing the required tests on Tuesday for anyone who suffers a concussion.
Fellow receiver Domenik Hixon was going to have an MRI on his right knee. The injury was originally called a knee injury, but he said it was a calf injury after the game. Coughlin said the team believes the discomfort with his calf is related to his knee. He tore the ACL in the same knee in June 2010 and missed that season.
Looking back at the 28-16 win over the Rams, Coughlin was happy with the win, but said the team continues to lack cohesion in all phases.
“Our progress has to come along. I think we made progress last night,” he said. “It was a very necessary part of our plan and our theme all week long was to improve from Week 1 to Week 2. I don’t know if we improved as radically as I had hoped, but it’s again an opportunity to grow and develop.”
NOTES: Coughlin said S Kenny Phillips made a great tackle at the goal line to stop the Rams initial drive. … Coughlin said he was not aware whether veteran S Deon Grant was faking an injury late in the first quarter to slow down the Rams’ no-huddle offense near the end zone. Coughlin said he thought Grant went down with cramping issues, adding when he looked down the field all he saw w as an injured player.