Giants' must-win finale vs. 'Skins features mix-and-match O-line

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Injuries have forced the New York Giants to shift offensive linemen around all season and their regular-season finale won't be any different.

Pro Bowl center Shaun O'Hara aggravated a left Achilles' tendon injury last weekend and veteran Rich Seubert has moved from left guard to center for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.

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New York (9-6) has moved left tackle David Diehl to left guard and likely will start Shawn Andrews and his troublesome back at left tackle in the game it must win to keep its playoff hopes alive.

The Giants need to either win or tie and have the Green Bay Packers (9-6) lose at home to NFC North champion Chicago Bears to get back to the playoffs after a one-year absence.

"We've had to do it before and the guys have stepped up and done what we needed to do to get a win, so we certainly look forward to them doing the same thing this week," Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said.

The starting line has played only six games this season, with injuries forcing line coach Pat Flaherty to use six different starting combinations.

The combination of Andrews, Diehl, Seubert, Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie isn't new. That was the group that started the eighth game of the season in Seattle against the Seahawks.

"We've done this all year, this has been our MO," Seubert said after practice Thursday. "I feel comfortable playing center and Shaun is out, so somebody has to snap the ball. It's not a big deal. Maybe the first time you move to a different position, you worry about it and you think a lot, but now it's natural."

Moving Diehl to guard and having Andrews take over at tackle probably is an attempt by coach Tom Coughlin to get New York's running game going again.

Andrews, who started three games at left tackle after Diehl was hurt against Seattle, would not say whether he would start at left tackle this week.

The Giants were averaging 182 yards rushing in a three-game winning streak prior to meeting the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC East showdown on Dec. 19.

That was the game O'Hara returned after missing six games with a sprained foot. Since his return, the running game has averaged 95 yards and the Giants are riding a two-game losing streak that has caused them to lose control of their playoff destiny.

There is another reason the Giants are going to need the run back this week. Leading receiver Hakeem Nicks broke the big toe on his left foot and it is doubtful he will play Sunday.

"We know teams are always trying to take our run game away from us," O'Hara said. "It's always been an uphill battle for us and that's why we enjoy doing it because it is such a challenge."

O'Hara has not practiced this week and his chances of playing Sunday look iffy. He admitted he has not been 100 percent and mostly likely will need surgery in the offseason.

"I don't feel like I have been able to move like I normally have," said O'Hara, who noted his Achilles' started bothering him again in the first quarter against Green Bay. "That's football. You have to find a way to get the job done."

Diehl said Washington has changed things since New York posted a 31-7 win against them earlier this month. They seem to blitz more. They also have linemen standing up at the line of scrimmage, and they are moving around more.

The Giants dominated the first meeting by rushing for 197 yards.

"It's something that has to be the strength to the offense, to open up things," Diehl said. "Regardless of what the situation is, you have to make it work and you have to make it happen. This is going to be one of those games that the run game is going to be crucial."

If Nicks does not play, Mario Manningham will become Eli Manning's prime target and Derek Hagan will be the No. 2 receiver. That's that starting combination the Giants used in their first game against Washington. Hagan had a season-high seven catches for 64 yards.

"You always have hope," O'Hara said of the Giants' dim playoff hopes. "At this point in the year, you never know what can happen. Who would have thought Philadelphia would have lost to Minnesota? We have a lot of play for. The playoffs are one thing. But if you take that out of the equation, 10 wins is a big accomplishment in the NFL."

Notes: Besides O'Hara and Nicks, running back Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle); defensive linemen Chris Canty (neck), Justin Tuck (chest) and Dave Tollefson (knee); and defensive backs Antrel Rolle (ankle) and Corey Webster (ribs) did not practice.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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