EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason knows his sprained knee will only allow him to participate in a handful of snaps, if any, in the home opener against Atlanta on Sunday.

He also knows that if coach Tom Coughlin upgrades him from doubtful, it will probably knock him out of next Thursday night's game against NFC East foe Washington.

He's not happy about that, and he blames the NFL for creating the situation.

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"Me personally, they decided to throw another football game in there, it shows they really don't care about the players," Beason said. "We're still playing 16 games, whether we play two in a week or not.

"But I know how I feel on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and then to have to play a game on Thursday, it's tough."

While admitting all the participants next Thursday will play on equal footing, Beason said the insertion of the midweek games causes undue pressure on everyone, especially those battling injuries like himself.

"It'd be a tough turnaround for anybody, but if you're coming off an injury, for sure," he said. "You're going to feel it on Thursday, but we all will."

For that reason, the Giants' coaching and medical staff may have to do a bit of strategizing along with their physical evaluation of the defensive leader's inflamed left knee. Beason has missed the last three games for the injury sustained while covering a pass in the preseason against Jacksonville.

His absence has profoundly affected the Giants' defense against both the run and pass. Dallas victimized undrafted rookie starter Uani' Unga on throws over the middle to Jason Witten. Though impressing the coaches with 12 tackles, Unga proved especially vulnerable on Tony Romo's 11-yard throw to Witten for the winning touchdown with 7 seconds remaining.

Unga will start again, with free agent pickup Jasper Brinkley and veteran Mark Herzlich also available.

Having participated in only Thursday's light practice, Beason said he is not ready for a full workload. Coughlin would not rule him out, but did not sound optimistic about using him even in a limited role.

"He is feeling better. He'll tell you that," Coughlin said. "But we're going to see. It would be a good shot in the arm because the players, not unanimously, but wholeheartedly, voted him captain. You have to decide whether to play him now or give him another week."

The extra-short preparation week for Washington will figure heavily into Coughlin's plans.

"It sure does," Coughlin said. "There's very, very little practice. It's a lot mental, but not very much physical. You have to be careful of that."

The question on Beason will come down to whether his presence is more valuable against the Falcons or the Redskins, against whom the Giants (0-1) could even up their division record. All Beason knows is that if he does get on the field Sunday, it won't be for long.

"I don't know what the decision is," Beason said. "The workload, I want to play on Sunday and be available for as much as I can. I feel great about Uani' and our core. If there's some situational stuff they can use me, that'd be great.

"But coming back from an injury, just because you feel good doesn't mean you're ready to play football. God forbid, if we have to play any (amount of) snaps, I'm not ready for that."

As for the meeting with Washington, Beason added defiantly, "It just becomes difficult physically to play on Thursday. And you can tell them I said it. I don't care."

NOTES: Coughlin said he has not seen published photos of Jason Pierre-Paul's mangled right hand. "I was busy, and when I got home it was too late to sit down and watch that." He added he didn't see the hand when the defensive end visited the Giants last Monday, either. "It was wrapped," Coughlin said. .TE Daniel Fells (foot) was ruled out and will be replaced by first-year blocker Jerome Cunningham. Using the inexperienced Cunningham became the main option because starter Larry Donnell is more adept at receiving than blocking, a task Fells excels at. "We'll use the young guy, and we'll be prepared in other ways," Coughlin said. In missing Fells, the Giants will be without a major part of their offense from last week; the eight-year veteran caught three passes for 33 yards and laid out several key blocks. "Fells is the best blocker," Coughlin said. . Cullen Jenkins, who started at defensive end last week, will move inside to tackle now that starter Markus Kuhn (knee) has been ruled out. . WR Victor Cruz (calf) and DE Owa Odighizuwa (foot) have also been ruled out.

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