Thomas, who led the Giants in tackles and interceptions the past two seasons, injured his right anterior cruciate ligament 22 seconds from the end of the first half in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Thomas collided with teammate Jason Pierre-Paul while the pair rushed Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler.
“I’m very disappointed in the injuries that occurred; that’s the part of the game that just makes you shake your head,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin told reporters. “We’ll just have to make some decisions, whether or not there’s anybody out there that we can bring in or shuffle some guys around.”
Thomas is the fourth member of the Giants secondary to get injured during the preseason. The Giants open the regular season Sept. 11 at the Washington Redskins.
Rookie cornerback Prince Amukamara, New York’s top pick in this year’s draft, needs surgery to repair a fractured bone in his left foot and may be sidelined for as long as 10 weeks. Bruce Johnson ruptured his Achilles tendon Aug. 4 and fellow cornerback Brian Witherspoon also left last night’s game during the second half with a knee injury.
The 26-year-old Thomas started all 16 games last season and had 101 tackles, 81 solo, and five interceptions. In four seasons in the NFL, Thomas has 218 tackles, six forced fumbles and 11 interceptions.
“It’s devastating,” defensive end Justin Tuck told ESPN in a televised interview. “He was primed to have another great year for us. That’s a big void.”
Thomas, who walked to the locker room after being treated on the field, will probably be replaced by Aaron Ross, who will join Corey Webster as the starting cornerback, the Associated Press reported. Ross, 28, has two starts over the past two seasons, for 26 in total.
A near four-month shutdown of the league during a labor dispute may have contributed to Thomas’s injury, Coughlin said, because some players spent more time on the field last night than they otherwise would have.
“To take full advantage of the fact that we literally had no offseason and a very short preseason, we extended a little bit of play time tonight and we did have some guys who got nicked up,” Coughlin said.
New York quarterback David Carr, who is competing with Sage Rosenfels to be Eli Manning’s backup, threw for two touchdowns and the Giants ran for three more.
The Giants host the New York Jets Aug. 27 before completing the preseason at the New England Patriots.
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