Sports

Struggling Giants bench former All-Pro Umenyiora

The struggling New York Giants continued to tinker with their defensive line on Friday, demoting two-time Pro Bowl end Osi Umenyiora and starting tackle Fred Robbins to the second unit.

Mathias Kiwanuka replaced Umenyiora, and Chris Canty took Robbins’ place on the first unit during Friday’s practice.

New York has lost five of its past six games and is hoping to salvage its season going into a key NFC East matchup at home against Dallas.

If the changes remain in place Sunday, it would mark the first time since 2004 that Umenyiora, an All-Pro in 2005, did not start when healthy and the first time since 2007 that Robbins didn’t start.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin did not want to address any personnel changes.

“We will play everybody,” Coughlin said. “We will get everybody involved. We are trying to do the best we can in maneuvering our personnel according to our team.”

The Giants’ defensive line has been criticized throughout the season for not playing like the dominant unit that helped the team win the Super Bowl two years ago. New York’s defense has allowed 15 rushing touchdowns, fourth-worst in the league, and is tied for 19th with just 23 quarterback sacks.

Sanchez’s knee injury merely minor

Mark Sanchez’s headfirst dive gave the New York Jets a big first down — and a huge scare. But they can breathe easy after learning that “The Sanchise” isn’t seriously injured.

Sanchez might be able to play in the Jets’ next game after spraining the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a 19-13 win over Buffalo on Thursday. Coach Rex Ryan said an MRI exam Friday revealed the severity of the injury, which could have been much worse.

“I feel good that it sounds like he’s going to be healthy,” Ryan said. “I think that is the best news we could’ve hoped for.”

Ryan said Sanchez will initially wear a brace to stabilize the knee, and Ryan is optimistic the rookie could be ready to go against the Buccaneers at Tampa Bay on Dec. 13.

“We’ll see how he is during the week,” Ryan said, “but it was encouraging news.”

Eagles will be without top receiver

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson and two other offensive weapons for the Philadelphia Eagles have been ruled out of Sunday’s game against Atlanta.

Jackson, who leads the Eagles with eight touchdowns, suffered a concussion in last week’s win over Washington.

Jackson, running back Brian Westbrook (concussion) and wide receiver Kevin Curtis (knee) have been ruled out.

Westbrook will miss his third straight game since suffering his second concussion of the season. Curtis has been out since the second week of the season.

Extra points

Washington running back Clinton Portis continues to show symptoms from a concussion and will miss his fourth straight game Sunday when the Redskins host New Orleans. … Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams (ankle) is questionable against Tampa Bay. … Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs (knee) is doubtful against St. Louis, and tackle Orlando Pace (groin) will be out. … The Giants signed former Fresno State tight end Bear Pascoe from their practice squad. … Houston defensive end Antonio Smith was fined $12,500 by the NFL for an illegal hit on Indianapolis tight end Dallas Clark. … Jets safety Kerry Rhodes was fined $5,000 for throwing a ball into the stands.

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