NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, December 16, 2015, 7:11 PM
An old Super Bowl hero has returned to East Rutherford.
On Wednesday, the Giants signed veteran defensive tackle Barry Cofield, according to his agent, Mike McCartney. It was a move that added leadership to a young locker room and also helped shore up a suddenly paper-thin Giants defensive line.
Cofield, 31, played five seasons with the Giants from 2006-2010, helping anchor the defensive line of the Super Bowl XLII champion. Cofield spent the last five years in Washington. He was released this offseason.
The Giants worked Cofield late last month, and his return became necessary this week. On Wednesday, starting defensive tackle Markus Kuhn did not practice due to a knee injury, putting his status for Sunday’s showdown with undefeated Carolina in doubt and leaving the Giants with just one proven defensive tackle, Cullen Jenkins.
To make room for Cofield, the Giants released safety Brandon Meriweather, thinning their ranks at safety. Meriweather had started 11 games this season, stabilizing a position of concern for Big Blue after signing midway through training camp, but he’d missed two straight outings with a knee injury.
During that time, third-year man Cooper Taylor stepped in as the third safety and was “improving,” according to coach Tom Coughlin. Taylor, a 2013 fifth-round pick, made five tackles in Monday’s win over the Dolphins and played heavily in the second half.
“He’s going to get his opportunity to play,” Coughlin said.
Taylor, rookie Landon Collins and Craig Dahl are the Giants’ remaining safeties on roster.
“They’re all three going to play,” Coughlin said.
RIVERBOAT RON BACKS TOM
Many have called for Coughlin’s head this season, disillusioned by three straight playoff-less campaigns and plenty of rock bottom moments in 2015. But to Ron Rivera, the head man of the 13-0 Carolina Panthers and a coach who spent much of last season on the hot seat, everyone should take a deep breath.
“I think people have to really take a step back and take a deep breath,” Rivera said. “This is a cycle, it goes up and down. Shoot, about every three or four years, Coach Coughlin wins the Super Bowl. Well, that’s pretty good.”
And a coach can go from hot seat to dominant very quickly, as Rivera knows. A season ago, he took plenty of heat for a 7-8-1 Panthers team that just barely made the playoffs. This year, Carolina hasn’t lost a game.
“If I had gotten let go last year in the middle of the year because I was on the hot seat, we may have never gotten where we are today,” he said. “I just think sometimes people have to take a deep breath, think about the big picture, and then make decisions.”
He added that the Giants aren’t exactly in bad position right now, at 6-7 and in a three-way deadlock atop the NFC East. And even if they win the division with a losing record, Rivera said, that’s fine.
“You’ve got nothing to apologize for,” he said. “This is about winning your division. This just happened to be a down year in the NFC East, but a team gets hot and gets on a roll and you can make some noise in the playoffs. Hey, if the Giants make it, good for them.”
Linebacker Devon Kennard, who missed the last two games with hamstring and foot issues, will sit out again against Carolina, Coughlin said . . . DE George Selvie (concussion) did not practice . . . Eli Manning was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week . . .