During just the second day of their first official offseason training activities as the defending champions, the Giants lost a key member of their offense. The team announced that Hakeem Nicks broke a bone in his left foot Thursday morning, and he’ll be out for three months.
It’s another blow to an offense with Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, their top two tight ends, still recovering from ACL injuries, which prompted the signing of career backup Martellus Bennett. Nicks has often been hobbled throughout his three-year career, but he’s been able to play through his various injuries while still being highly productive as a primary target for Eli Manning. He averaged 79.5 receiving yards per game during the regular season last year with seven touchdowns, and he’s also averaged 1011.3 yards per season.
Put more starkly, Nicks was on the receiving end for 25 percent of the Giants’ 4,734 passing yards last year. But hey, it’s May, a time when there’s far too much time to worry, and wayyyy too much time to consider why Tim Tebow’s two interceptions today during a practice with a brand new offense matter at all. Even a little bit.
Unlike other major injuries this offseason to Terrell Suggs and Phil Taylor, my calendar indicates that while he may be slowed, this injury likely won’t lead to a significant regular-season absence for Nicks. He should be back by late August, which gives him some time–but not much time–to get into game shape and hopefully be ready for Week 1. During an appearance on NFL Network, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin maintained his optimism, but acknowledged that getting Nicks back into proper game condition and prepared to play on Sept. 5 against the Cowboys will “be close.”
The Giants schedule won’t help Nicks’ recovery process. It’ll do quite the opposite, because since they’re the champs and the big draw, the Giants play three games over the first 15 days of the season, two of which are in prime time. There’s also only four days separating their second and third games. How’s that for some instant pounding, Hakeem?
The Giants no doubt intend to take it slow with Nicks and his injury regardless, but their intense schedule heightens the need to strap on the kid gloves. The timing of this mid-May injury is particularly poor since it comes during an offseason when Mario Manningham was allowed to walk during free agency, but the gut punch to New York’s wide receiver depth chart is mitigated by the presence of Rueben Randle, who somehow fell to the Giants at the end of the second round in April’s draft.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has already been impressed with Randle, saying he “has the ability to get over the top and hurt people like Mannngham did.” That’s good, because suddenly early in the season Randle may have to do more than just replace Manningham if Nicks has a set back.
He’ll have to do his best Nicks impression.