No pleasant surprise: Giants' Pierce out indefinitely with neck injury

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce is out indefinitely after an MRI surprisingly revealed a bulging disk in his neck.

The Giants said their defensive captain underwent the test in New York on Friday and was examined by team physician Dr. Russell Warren and Dr. Frank Camissa, chief of the spinal surgical services at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Pierce originally sustained a burner when the Giants played the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 25. He had very little discomfort until practice this week, when the Giants' medical staff scheduled the MRI.

"I'm shocked with what I heard from the doctors this afternoon," Pierce said in a statement released by the Giants. "I had no idea that what happened a few weeks ago could keep me off the field. I didn't think it was that serious.

"I'm going to do everything the doctors tell me to do so I can get back out on the field as soon as possible."

The Giants (5-4), who will host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, are coming off their bye week and have lost four consecutive games.

Pierce, who's in his ninth NFL season and fifth with the Giants, has 55 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble in nine games this season. He was looking forward to trying to help New York end its skid.

"This game means a lot to us," Pierce said earlier Friday. "For one, we need a win to get out of this four-game slump and, two, it will help us in the playoff hunt. We are tied for one of the wild-card spots, and you always want to win the head-to-head battles."

Pierce played in 15 games last season after appearing in all 16 contests in each of the previous two seasons. He has led the Giants in tackles for the last three seasons and missed just four regular-season games since leaving the Washington Redskins to join the NFC East rival Giants in 2005.

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, then took the gun that the wide receiver used back to his home in New Jersey, later arranging to return it to Burress' residence. Pierce testified before a grand jury, which declined to indict him for his role in the incident.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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