After Hakeem Nicks' Injury, Who's Next?
The New York Giants suffered a setback at the wide receiver position when Hakeem Nicks broke his right foot during OTAs.
Even though it could take up to three months to recover from this injury, head coach Tom Coughlin said Nicks is confident that he will return in time for training camp.
"He was very optimistic. He rushed down to Charlotte to get the surgery taken care of as fast as he could. He did that. And that is a great example," Coughlin said. "This guy really, really wants to be on the field and out here. We certainly hope that the idea of him returning by camp can happen."
Nicks last season caught 76 passes for a career-high of 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns. If there are any further setbacks, whom do the Giants turn to?
Mario Manningham left New York for San Francisco, which leaves Victor Cruz as the only returning starter. After coming off his injury-shortened rookie season, Cruz broke through the NFL making 82 catches for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. He broke the Giants' all-time yardage record for a single season and tied an NFL record scoring a 99-yard touchdown against the New York Jets.
Opportunities for Domenik Hixon, Jerrel Jernigan, and Ramses Barden await when training camp rolls around. Hixon's 2011 season ended early in Week 2 when he tore his ACL after making an acrobatic catch against the St. Louis Rams. This was the second season in a row with the same injury. Hixon will get playing time, but will be a health concern.
Barden saw some playing time in 2011, making eight catches for 94 yards, but no touchdowns. Jernigan, who was picked by the Giants in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft, did not catch any passes last season.
Of all of the receivers after Cruz, Hixon has the most experience but has been injured for the last two seasons, which leaves Barden with an advantage to make an impression coming off the season. It could come down to a battle between the two, however, there is still another player to consider.
Barden looks to focus on one thing this training camp. "I'm here to be the man," he said. "Plain and simple. There's no explanation needed." Barden has shined in past training camps, but has disappointed on the big stage with just 15 career catches. The injury to Nicks opens a door for Barden.
"I'm not going to walk around looking over my shoulder," said Barden. "It's fun, and I can't wait to see how this season unfolds."
Rookie Rueben Randle was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft and has been impressive thus far.
In his three years playing at LSU, Randle had 97 receptions for 1,634 yards and 13 touchdowns. The First-Team All-Southeastern Conference player ran a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash, 4.36 in the 20-yard shuttle, and 31.0 in the vertical jump. It's possible that Randle could win a role on the roster, even if it's for just a few games throughout the season.
Overall, the Giants have some depth in the WR position. Nicks plays a huge role for New York, but with his injury and the departure of Manningham a new key player has to step up.