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Coughlin faces Jaguars for first time

Nov 15, 2006 - 2:06 AM NY Giants (6-3) at Jacksonville (5-4) Monday 8:30 pm EST

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Coach Tom Coughlin helped to build the Jacksonville Jaguars and guided them to two AFC championship games. On Monday, he faces them for the first time.

Coughlin and the New York Giants visit the Jaguars in an interconference contest.

But instead of reminiscing about his days in Florida, Coughlin is more concerned with plugging the holes on the Giants due to injuries. He is not going to get any sympathy from Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio, who has had to deal with more than his share of injuries.

The Giants won the NFC East title in Coughlin's second year as coach in 2005, but lost in the wild-card round to Carolina. This season, they are in first place again with a one-game lead over Philadelphia and Dallas.

Coughlin coached the Jaguars from their birth in 1995 through the 2002 season. In those eight years, they made the playoffs four times, losing in the AFC championship game to New England in 1996 and Tennessee in 1999.

The Jaguars had not made the playoffs since his departure until last season when Del Rio guided them to a 12-4 record. Jacksonville then lost in the wild card round at New England, 28-3.

Del Rio was thinking playoffs again after the Jaguars opened the season with home wins over Dallas and Pittsburgh. But injuries started to pile up as Reggie Hayward, the team's best pass-rushing end, and middle linebacker Mike Peterson, the team's leading tackler, suffered season-ending injuries.

Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud has missed the last four games with a groin injury, wide receiver Matt Jones has been bothered by hamstring problems and quarterback Byron Leftwich has been hobbled by an ankle injury.

Leftwich appeared ready to return last week, but Del Rio decided to stick with the more mobile David Garrard as his starter after the backup won two games. However, Garrard was intercepted four times in last week's 13-10 loss to Houston.

It was the Jaguars' first home loss of the season. They had outscored their opponents - Dallas, Pittsburgh, the New York Jets and Tennessee - by a whopping margin of 111-24 in the first four home wins.

The Giants are 3-1 on the road, including a Monday night win at Dallas on October 23.

But New York has been riddled with injuries and went from bruised to battered after a 38-20 loss to Chicago last Sunday night.

Already without five starters due to injury - defensive ends Michael Strahan (foot) and Osi Umenyiora (hip), outside linebackers Carlos Emmons (groin) and LaVar Arrington (torn Achilles) and wide receiver Amani Toomer (torn ACL) - the Giants also lost starting left tackle Luke Petitgout to a broken left leg in the first quarter against the Bears. Umenyiora and Emmons may be able to play Monday.

However, it does not appear that Sam Madison will play. He aggravated a hamstring injury in the loss to the Bears.

Pro Bowl running back Tiki Barber even suffered a thumb injury against the Bears, but he is expected to play on Monday. Barber leads the NFL with 971 rushing yards.

The Giants yielded 113 yards on the ground to Thomas Jones in the loss to the Bears and will have to contend with Fred Taylor and rookie Maurice Jones-Drew on Monday. Taylor leads the Jaguars with 696 rushing yards.

Jacksonville is used to facing perennial Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning of Indianapolis twice a year.

On Monday, they will get their first look at Manning's younger brother Eli, who has passed for 1,972 yards and 15 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. However, last week Eli completed just 14-of-32 passes for 121 yards with two interceptions against the Bears.

Barber rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns in the last meeting between the teams in November 2002 as the Giants posted a 24-17 win.

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