Over the last two weeks, Hakeem Nicks has been out of the Giants' starting lineup with a knee injury.
His status for Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns has not yet been determined, but according to Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News, it's not looking good.
Coughlin said Hakeem Nicks' knee isn't any better. How concerned is he? "How much concern can I show you?" the coach said. #NYG— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) October 1, 2012
After his 10-catch, 199-yard and a touchdown game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2, receivers like Ramses Barden and Rueben Randle have had opportunities to step up.
However, against the Eagles, one receiver did step up: Domenik Hixon.
Against Philadelphia, Hixon had six catches for 114 yards, averaging 19 yards per reception with a long of 41 yards for the Giants.
Hixon hasn't been much of a factor over the last two years due to tearing his ACL in 2010 and 2011. In fact, because Hixon tore his ACL back in Week 2 against the Rams last season, Victor Cruz's role in the offense increased and we all know how the rest of his season went.
So far, Hixon has stayed healthy and, as a result, he looks like he can become a big part of the offense.
With Barden getting called for offensive pass interference against the Eagles, which made a Lawrence Tynes 44-yard field goal into a 54-yard field goal, you have to wonder how much Tom Coughlin trusts Barden right now.
If you don't think he has skepticism, David Wilson fumbled in Week 1 and was in Coughlin's doghouse, which allowed Andre Brown to step up in the running game.
Because Wilson has found a new role as a speedy kick returner, I think he has finally gotten out. Maybe Barden doesn't stay in there as long, but I know Coughlin can't be pleased with what happened on Sunday night.
Throw in what happened with Barden along with Randle having a slow start to his rookie season, and it has all the makings for Hixon to step up in the offense.
Hixon once had a chance to emerge back in 2008, when Plaxico Burress became a problem child.
First with him getting suspended for a game for no-showing at practice and then the whole leg-shot incident which forced Burress out for the season and ended his career with the Giants.
Hixon tried to be the No. 1 receiver, but couldn't do it. However, in 2012, the Giants aren't asking Hixon to be a No. 1.
They have Nicks and Cruz for that. What the Giants, Coughlin and Eli Manning are looking for from Hixon is to be the receiver that Steve Smith and Mario Manningham were—complementary receivers.
Receivers who might not always be the first answer, but can still be thrown to when needed.
Against the Eagles, Hixon did a terrific job by having his first 100-yard game of the season.
If in fact Nicks is out for a third straight week, Hixon has to continue to play well alongside Cruz. One 100-yard game is good, but Hixon needs to do it again to gain the trust of his quarterback and coaches that he can in fact be a consistent part of the offense.
When Cruz is drawing double-teams from defenders like he probably will against the Browns, Hixon has to be open and he has to be able to shake off defenders in one-on-one coverage.
Barden couldn't shake off Nnamdi Asomugha on Sunday night in one-on-one coverage and even let the smaller Asomugha bump him off the line.
Hixon was able to use his speed, agility and some height to make great plays against the Eagles' secondary and it is pretty good.
Against the 0-4 Browns, who will still be missing cornerback Joe Haden due to his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance policy, the Giants' receivers should look to have a big day.
Don't be surprised to see Hixon have a second week with a big game against Cleveland.
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