The slumping New York Giants placed linebacker Antonio Pierce on injured reserve Monday with a bulging disk in his neck, ending the season for one of their defensive leaders.
Pierce has missed two games since being ruled out indefinitely after an MRI exam Nov. 20 revealed the bulging disk. The Giants (6-5) decided to put Pierce on IR after he received a second opinion from Dr. Robert Watkins, an orthopedic surgeon based in Los Angeles.
"The doctors have told me that given my current condition, the risk of playing is too great, regardless of how I feel physically," Pierce said. "That is the most disappointing part of this, because I feel great and have no pain. But I will keep my head up and be there the rest of the way to do my part to keep the boys going."
The 31-year-old Pierce, in his ninth NFL season and fifth with the Giants, has 55 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble in nine games this season.
New York, which has lost five of six since opening the season 5-0, hosts rival Dallas on Sunday is also dealing with an injury to quarterback Eli Manning, who has a stress reaction in his right foot.
"He's certainly going to be missed," coach Tom Coughlin said. "You have a guy who's been a three-year captain. He's an outstanding leader. He rallies the troops as well as anybody we've had. He's a very strong personality, obviously. He's a very, very smart player. He could make a lot of significant adjustments. He made all the checks from the defensive standpoint."
Pierce spent much of the past year in the spotlight after helping former teammate Plaxico Burress when the wide receiver accidentally shot himself in the thigh in a New York nightclub.
Pierce drove Burress to the hospital and then took the gun that Burress used back to his home in New Jersey, later arranging to get it back to the wounded receiver's home. Pierce testified before a grand jury, which declined to indict him for his role in the incident.
The Associated Press contributed to this report