Tom Coughlin's Juggling Skills Will Be Tested This Season

One problem gets fixed, another arises as the Giants approach the season

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    Have no fear, Giants fans: Brandon Jacobs says he's happy.

    That whole thing last week when he called football a "backstabbing" business and wondered aloud how he could possibly be happy playing for the Giants? All a big mistake because silly people read words like that and think that there's some kind of problem. Sure, it sounds like an excuse he recycled from Osi Umenyiora's bin of ways to cool off after saying way too much, but we'll take him at his word. Jacobs is pleased as punch to be a backup running back, so Tom Coughlin can rest easy. 

    Except he can't, really, because he's missing two cornerbacks from practice days before the season opener against the Panthers. Neither Aaron Ross nor Corey Webster are healthy enough to be on the field just yet, a situation that would leave the Giants anorexic against the passing game. So much for the brand new start for the defense.

    Coughlin can't spend too much time coming up with answers for the holes in the secondary, though. He's got enough to worry about in the middle of his offensive line. Shaun O'Hara has tendinosis in his Achilles, an injury that will not be getting better any time soon. He's practicing and will likely be playing on Sunday, but it is the kind of chronic injury that the team is all too familiar with from last season. Several veteran Giants played worse than expected in 2009 because they were hurting. Center isn't a spot where the Giants can really afford diminished production, but it looks like that door is already open.

    That's a lot for one man to deal with and we haven't even mentioned the way they are playing musical chairs at backup quarterback, the inability of Clint Sintim to win a starting linebacker job or the fact that the Giants are installing a read-and-react defense that might be a bad fit for several of their players. There's not going to be a lot of time for Coughlin to read that Steig Larsson trilogy this year, in other words.

    The good news is that Coughlin has done a good job of keeping it all together in the past. The 2007 season was one long referendum on his future and it is one that he passed with flying colors. The bad news is that Coughlin couldn't seem to find enough answers to address the questions asked by his team in either of the last two seasons.

    Even the best jugglers in the world have a point where they can't keep up with all the balls in the air. Coughlin's test this season will be making sure he doesn't get to that point.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.