Diehl or no Diehl? That is the question facing Giants coach Tom Coughlin with standout RT David Diehl returning to health on a line that has built momentum without him in the lineup. (US Presswire)

Having your team play nearly perfect football while a significant starter is out of action is hardly a coach’s worst nightmare. But in the case of Giants coach Tom Coughlin and his offensive line, it does create a difficult decision.
Right tackle David Diehl , who has been a rock for the Giants’ line at multiple positions over the years, has been out since spraining his MCL in Week 2.
Luckily, the Giants had two other serviceable tackles, so Sean Locklear moved to the right side and Will Beatty , who had been dealing with a back injury, stepped up to start at left tackle.
Things didn’t gel at first, but over the last two weeks the Giants have gained 392 rushing yards, which begs the question, “Why not keep everything the same?”
Diehl returned as a blocking tight end in the Giants’ jumbo package on Sunday and he was omitted from this week’s injury report. But while Coughlin says Diehl is “very close” to being back at full strength, the veteran hasn’t yet reclaimed his starting spot.
“It’s a continuous operation in terms of, he’s getting more time practicing and feeling better about it,” Coughlin said. “And we’ll see how it goes.”
Coughlin did admit that he doesn’t want to disrupt what’s developing on the line over the last two weeks.
“That’s certainly part of it,” he said, “but we’re trying to get the people that have been injured back to full health.”
The good news for Diehl is that he looked solid in a handful of plays against the 49ers.
“Well, it’s the first step of a few steps back,” offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. “You’re not asking him to play 75 plays, you’re asking him to play a limited number and do just a limited number of things, not everything that would be required of a tackle and he passed the first test.”
Let’s just assume Ahmad Bradshaw’s foot is always injured: Gilbride doesn’t even bother looking for Ahmad Bradshaw ’s name on the injury report anymore. He just assumes that the running back’s surgically repaired feet are sore, but that Bradshaw will play on Sunday unless he hears otherwise.  
“I’ve been with him so long, I don’t even think about it,” Gilbride said. “I just know he’s got some problems that are persistent and will stay with him.  I just know that he is physically very tough and mentally very tough. So that if it’s at all possible, he’ll fight through it and continue to play and sometimes he gets to a point where he becomes incapacitated where he just can’t function well enough and that’s when he sits down.”
Bradshaw re-appeared on the injury report this week with another foot issue, but he says he didn’t aggravate an old injury.
“I think I just got stepped on in the game and just hurt the bone a little bit, but I’m cool,” Bradshaw said Thursday.
Bradshaw, who has rushed for 316 yards and two touchdowns over his last two games, said he’s capable of carrying the same load again, which of late has been around 28 carries per game.
Coughlin said he’d like to have balance among his backs, but playing the hot hand when the game is on the line is “just part of the business.”
David Wilson helps himself: The first-round pick found himself in Coughlin’s dog house after fumbling in the opener, but after developing as a kick returner and scoring a 40-yard touchdown against the Browns, Wilson is starting to carve out a spot in the Giants backfield.
“Every day he works, he understands a little bit more, he does a little bit better job in pass protection, and when he gets his chance in the game, he comes through,” Coughlin said. “That certainly helps.”
Coughlin said there will be carries for Bradshaw, Wilson and Andre Brown , who is coming off a concussion.
Marvin Austin ’s missing 1997 Chevy Caprice: The second-year defensive tackle wouldn’t confirm that it was his car that was taken from the Giants’ parking lot while the team was in San Francisco, but he did imply that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has been giving him rides to practice.
“Got a good team, some good teammates,” Austin told CBSSports.com. “My homey JPP looked out for me.”
A handful of the Giants’ cars were burglarized at the team facility early on Sunday morning and one 1997 Chevy Caprice was stolen. That car is rumored to have belonged to Austin.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “We’ll just get everything taken care of.”
Who didn’t practice? DT Rocky Bernard (quad), S Kenny Phillips (knee), RB Da’Rel Scott (knee) and LB Jacquian Williams (knee) all sat out Thursday and aren’t expected to play Sunday.
After sitting out on Wednesday, LB Michael Boley (hip), Bradshaw (foot) and CB Corey Webster (hand/hamstring) were limited on Thursday.
WR Hakeem Nicks (foot/knee) was limited for the second straight day and Brown (concussion) participated fully.
“He’s getting better,” Gilbride said of Nicks, who returned from his swollen knee injury last week. “Unfortunately, it’s a lengthy process getting back to where he was, but he is definitely better this week than he was the week before. You’re encouraged by seeing him do some things that maybe he couldn’t have done last week. So it’s a matter of just continuing that growth and return to where he was before he was injured.”
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