MINNEAPOLIS — Azeez Ojulari cannot stay healthy and on the field.
The talented pass-rushing outside linebacker again was not able to finish a game. He was forced out of the Giants’ 31-24 playoff victory over the Vikings with a quad injury and did not return. This certainly puts into question his availability for Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Eagles in Philadelphia.
“It’s just so terrible,” Ojulari said afterward. “I can’t ever finish the game. I’m so frustrated. It’s just so tough. I’m happy we won, though. Gives me another opportunity.”
Ojulari had been dealing with a sprained ankle he came away with in the Christmas Eve loss to the Vikings. He was held out of the regular-season finale and deemed a full-go for his first career playoff game, but he could not make it to halftime. Jihad Ward moved into the spot Ojulari vacated, costing the Giants the pass-rush prowess Ojulari usually provides.
Ojulari was hurt pursing the ball on a trick play by the Vikings, with receiver Justin Jefferson trying a throwback pass to quarterback Kirk Cousins.
“I’m OK,” Ojulari said. “Sore. Kirk, I hit him. I feel like he kneed me straight in the quad. I tried to get up. Thigh bruise, probably. Get treatment [Monday] and see the severity of it.”
How about Kenny Golladay? The veteran wide receiver, coming off a brutal second season with the Giants, actually made a contribution even though he was not targeted and thus did not catch a single pass. He did make a key block, though. With the game tied at 24, Saquon Barkley caught a swing pass from Daniel Jones and picked up 10 yards — thanks in large part to Golladay absolutely obliterating safety Duke Shelley.
“Got to give a lot of respect for KG,” Barkley said. “Obviously the season hasn’t gone how he would have wanted but he’s a really good player and I respect the grit and the grind, when things aren’t going your way … in a crucial drive making a big block.’’
Coach Brian Daboll liked what he saw from Golladay on the play.
“He’s a competitor,’’ Daboll said. “He’s kept his head down and worked as hard as he can and when his number is called, he’s tried to do the best job he can.’’
Safety Jason Pinnock was carted off the field with 7:42 remaining after he was hurt covering a kickoff return with an abdomen injury. He was checked out at a local hospital and was able to fly back with the team. … Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux was shaken up making a tackle on Dalvin Cook in the third quarter and exited holding his right arm and hand. He only missed a few snaps and was back on the field. … The rotation at left guard continued. Nick Gates started and Ben Bredeson came in on the third offensive series.
The Giants went into the game completely injury-free and as a result, all seven players they designated as inactive were healthy scratches: CB Rodarius Williams, RB Jashaun Corbin, LB Micah McFadden, G Wyatt Davis, G Jack Anderson, WR Kalil Pimpleton and DT Henry Mondeaux. McFadden started seven games as a rookie but the ascension of Landon Collins into an inside linebacker role and the signing of Jarrad Davis led to more change at a position that was in flux all season.
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