Giants TE Evan Engram's out again, getting close to return

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- This week Evan Engram made progress. The New York Giants tight end won’t play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, but he did some running and light cutting on a side field while his teammates practiced.

It was the first time Engram was able to do these activities since spraining his right MCL two weeks ago against the Houston Texans. It gives hope his return isn't far off.

Engram will miss his second straight game Sunday. The Giants play again Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, and that game also appears unlikely for Engram, given the time constraints. The Giants will have little practice on a short week, and that limits his chances of returning.

“Definitely rough timing,” Engram said. “Definitely would’ve loved to play last week and this week, but, like I said, it’s a day-by-day thing. Doing everything I can to get back to 100.”

It seems reasonable to hope Engram will play against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night in Week 7. Engram would miss three games and return four weeks and a day after suffering the injury.

“Right now, I feel great,” Engram said. “Recovery is going well. Just trying to be smart with everything so I can get out there as soon as possible.”

Rhett Ellison will continue to assume a larger role in Engram’s absence. Scott Simonson will get snaps in two-TE sets. They combined for four catches on six targets for 36 yards in Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Ellison and Simonson can give the Giants reliable targets. They just don't have Engram's explosive speed.

"Those guys are capable of stretching the field. Do they stretch the field at 4.4-4.5 40 [yard dash] time? No. But they’re not 5.0 flat 40 [yard dash] time guys," tight ends coach Lunda Wells said. "They have speed to be able to get down the field and make plays down the field."

Engram said this is his first serious knee injury. He has never experienced anything quite like it.

The second-year tight end tried to return against the Texans before the medical staff ruled him out. Engram said it was quite a scare when he woke up the next morning in pain, unsure of the extent of the damage.

The diagnosis was somewhat of a relief. The Giants labeled Engram “week to week” with the likelihood that he would miss at least two or three games. That seems to remain the hope.

Engram was running at practice this week wearing a brace. He seemed to be moving relatively well, although he wasn’t running at full speed. There is reasonable optimism he could be back soon.

"He’s made good progress," coach Pat Shurmur said. "We’ll just have to see. He wasn’t involved in the team activities, though, but getting better."

With the Giants' offense struggling to score points, it would be beneficial to have Engram in the lineup. He had 64 catches for 722 yards and a touchdown as a rookie last season.

Engram had 10 receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown before suffering the injury.