JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Linebacker Mike Peterson avoided practices, games and the locker room for several weeks after tearing a pectoral muscle and ending his season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He couldn’t bear to be around his healthy teammates.

“It was too tough,” Peterson said. “It takes time to swallow.”

Fortunately – or unfortunately – for Peterson, the Jaguars had plenty of other injured players to keep him company. Jacksonville has 12 players on injured reserved and could have another one, quarterback Byron Leftwich, added to the list soon.

The Jaguars (5-4) have been one of the league’s most banged-up teams this season. The New York Giants (6-3), who played at Jacksonville on Monday night, know exactly how they feel.

The two teams have as many stars on the sideline as they do in the huddle.

“Both teams are doing what they have to do, and that’s continue fighting with the guys you have available,” Jags coach Jack Del Rio said. “As a coaching staff, you absolutely must move on. As a football team, you absolutely must fill the gap and move on. Both teams have done that.”

It hasn’t been easy.

The Giants have six players on IR.

Linebacker LaVar Arrington (Achilles’ tendon), receiver Amani Toomer (knee) and defensive end Justin Tuck (foot) are done for the season. Offensive tackle Luke Petitgout and defensive end Michael Strahan were ruled out for Monday night’s game.

Petitgout broke his left leg last week against Chicago and could be lost for the year. Strahan has a badly sprained right foot that caused him to miss the last two games.

The Giants had won five in a row before Strahan’s injury, then gave up 38 points in a loss to the Bears.

“We get one of the NFL sack leaders out, so it will be a help for us,” Jags quarterback David Garrard said. “But they’ve got guys who are just as hungry and want to make a name for themselves.”

The Giants also were without defensive end Osi Umenyiora (hip), cornerback Sam Madison (quadriceps) and linebacker Brandon Short (quad) against the Jags. Linebacker Carlos Emmons (groin) returned to the starting lineup after missing last week’s game.

“We try to do the best job we can of focusing our team on the people that are gong to play,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “With regard to some of our injuries, even though they are two- and three-week injuries, we are going to get players back. Now, we’re not going to get a couple guys back, and you know from watching our IR list who they are, but we believe we have depth. We believe we have good players.

“We believe that those players have got to be in position now where they have to step up and help our team win while we go through this period where we’re trying to get people back.”

The Jaguars had three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud back in the starting lineup Monday night. He missed the last five games with a bone bruise in his right foot.

But Stroud’s return has been the lone good news lately.

Leftwich was scheduled to have ankle surgery Tuesday and could be out for the year. If so, he would be the latest in a long list of injured stars for the Jaguars. Peterson, the team’s leading tackler the last three seasons, and defensive end Reggie Hayward, the team’s best pass-rusher, head the list.

Running back Greg Jones (knee), linebacker Pat Thomas (hamstring), rookie defensive end Brent Hawkins (groin) and defensive tackle Tony Williams (biceps) also are done for the season.

“A lot of the injuries for these two football teams are on the defensive side, and both defenses are still playing very well,” Del Rio said. “They’re in the top 10 and so are we. That’s what you continue to do. You rally around the guys you have and you go compete.”

Jacksonville has allowed just 53 points in its last five games, using a rookie linebacker and several backup defensive linemen to replace Peterson, Hayward and Stroud.

“Regardless of who’s in there, we expect them to play like one of the starters was in there,” Stroud said. “That’s what we expect. We don’t want a drop in talent.”


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