New York Giants: Latest Update on Key Injuries
The New York Giants granted local beat writers access to the team’s facilities on Tuesday, during which time no fewer than 20 players, both old and new, came out to chat about a variety of topics.
One of the topics I was most interested in besides getting some additional insight into this new offensive system that Ben McAdoo is cooking up (more on that later this week), was to see where some of the injured Giants were in their respective rehabs.
Between observing—the players are not yet doing work on the field—and asking questions, the injury situation gained a new level of clarity.
So I present to you an update on where some of the Giants’ key players for 2014 are in terms of their respective recoveries.
Quarterback Eli Manning (Left Ankle)
Quarterback Eli Manning underwent a surgical debridement on his left ankle on April 10, a procedure that he said came about after a cortisone shot he had received wore off, leaving him still not feeling quite right.
When he met with reporters, Manning was walking without crutches, though his left foot was encased in a protective boot.
“It’s going well; it’s healing quickly,” Manning told reporters during the team’s open media access day at the Quest Diagnostics Performance Center. “Just looking forward to getting back into the flow of things.”
Manning, who first suffered a high ankle sprain in the regular-season finale, said he decided to be proactive with treating the ankle rather than run the risk of it not healing properly and potentially causing him to miss time during training camp.
“When I started my training and running, it just didn’t feel right. The first couple of weeks I didn’t feel like it was healing correctly,” he said.
“I got some more MRIs and talked to Dr. Robert Anderson. We developed a plan to determine what the best scenario was. This was the safest bet to do the scope at this point rather than waiting and going through OTAs and all that stuff.
“When (Dr. Anderson) did the scope, he saw there were some things that needed to be cleaned out. This will ensure I’m back 100 percent for training camp.”
Initially, the Giants projected that Manning would be able to begin running six weeks after the surgery. However, Manning said he's not rushing anything.
“I don’t have an exact timetable,” he said. “This is my first kind of surgery that I ever had, so I’m just trying to be smart with it and let it heal.”
So does that mean he won’t participate in the OTAs that start in a month?
“I just don’t know,” he said. "I’d obviously like to be. We just have to see what the process is and see how quickly I can heal and see how quickly they want to push me."
Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul (Shoulder/Back)
Besides rehabbing all last season from back surgery that he had in June 2013, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul also had to deal with a shoulder injury that was serious enough to keep him out of several games last season.
Determined to avoid surgery, Pierre-Paul chose a course of rest and rehab. That combination seemed to work, as by Jan. 31, both Pierre-Paul and his doctors determined that he could avoid surgery and still be effective in the upcoming football season.
“I’m still rehabbing but I’m healthy and I think I’m back at it,” he said.
For his part, Pierre-Paul said he’s able to do everything he needs to do at this point. To help himself, he revealed that he trimmed 15 pounds off his body weight.
Now weighing in at 270 pounds, the lighter weight should help his back as well as allow him to regain the speed aspect of his game that made him such a lethal force coming off the edge in 2011.
Speaking of which, Pierre-Paul is confident that he'll once again be the player who recorded 16.5 sacks in 2011.
“No doubt, no doubt. I’m going to go out there and play the game like I was 21 again,” he said.
“This whole offseason I’ve just been training and thinking that I want to get back on the football field. It’s coming.”
When it does come, good luck to whoever lines up across him and tries to stop him.
Safety Stevie Brown
In 2012, Stevie Brown led all NFL safeties with eight interceptions.
Looking to build off that breakout season in 2013, Brown, who was playing on a one-year restricted free-agent tender at the time, tore his ACL in the preseason, an injury that required season-ending surgery.
These days, Brown reports that he’s ahead of schedule in his rehab, and can actually do the backpedaling motions necessary to play his position.
“Yeah, I’ve been doing that for a while,” he said. “When we start back up, I’ll be on the field and I plan to jump in right away.”
Like any player returning from ACL surgery, Brown is going to have his practice reps monitored. The good news though is that he doesn't have any reservations about going back out there.
“Everything I do right now, there are no doubts,” he said. “But talking to people (who had ACL surgery) in the past—(defensive tackle) Markus (Kuhn) and T2 (cornerback Terrell Thomas)—everyone says you’re fine until you take that first hit. Once you get through that first game, take that first hit, then you’ll be back to normal.”
In getting back to normal, Brown wants to show the Giants that his 2012 season wasn't a fluke.
“Obviously I just have to go out there and show that I’m the same player and continue to build off everything I did in 2012,” he said. “I think 2012 spoke for itself and how I got injured in 2013 kind of spoke for itself.
“With me being around here and them seeing me every single day, I don’t think there was any doubt that I wouldn’t be ready because they got to see my progress every day.”
Left Tackle Will Beatty
Just when left tackle Will Beatty thought his 2013 season couldn’t get any worse, he ended up suffering what appeared to be a gruesome broken leg in the regular-season finale.
He underwent surgery on New Year’s Eve to repair his fractured tibia and these days is able to walk without benefit of crutches or a boot.
“The doctor is saying positive things and I’m hanging on everything they say,” he said.
“I’m feeling good. I’m out here moving around. We haven’t gone with contact or anything like that but still, starting things up in the weight room, working out, have to make sure the upper body is strong and I’m using my time wisely.”
Although he hasn’t tried to do any football movements, Beatty is optimistic.
“The doctor is positive everything went well and the timeline is good for me to start the season 100 percent with no issues,” he said. “So we’re just working our way up to get to that point.”
Whether that point will be in time for training camp remains to be seen.
“(The doctors) didn’t give me a (recovery time),” he said. “It was more like, ‘Let’s build you up.’”
Based on what Beatty had to say, it sounds like he probably won't do much, if anything, during the OTAs. It also wouldn’t be surprising if he starts training camp on the active PUP list, though his hope is to avoid that.
“I haven’t been through a knee injury before," he said. "The more you do, the faster you regain strength in your muscles. Being out here and just starting back up, I’m trying to keep pace with everyone else and not have any setbacks.”
Running Back David Wilson
Save for a tiny scar made by a surgeon's scalpel on the front of his neck, running back David Wilson shows no signs of the spinal fusion surgery he had on Jan. 16 after suffering a season-ending neck injury against the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 6.
Nope, not even a twinge of pain, which is how Wilson, the Giants’ 2012 first-round draft pick, wants to keep it.
“Right now I’m trying to be healthy for the season,” he said, admitting that he’s in a “wait-and-see” mode. “I’m looking forward to getting cleared and being ready to go for training camp and OTAs.”
Wilson, who said that he “expects” and “wants” to participate in the OTAs next month, said right now, there’s nothing physically he can’t do, though it's probable that he was talking about normal daily activities.
However, he admitted that the doctors have placed limitations on what he can do during the strength and conditioning part of the offseason program that began on Monday “just to help the healing process speed up.”
Wilson said he will have at least one more MRI in the coming weeks, though he wouldn’t say when.
“Right now, (the doctor) said I’m doing really well and I’m ahead of schedule, so that’s a positive thing to hear,” Wilson said, adding that he hasn't been advised to end his career.
“I’m going to see all of these doctors, I passed every test except a picture, and that’s the only reason I’m not on the field. Right now we just need to get that photograph.”
Until that happens—and there doesn’t appear to be a timetable on when that might happen—Wilson is likely going to remain on the sideline during the OTAs and could potentially start training camp on the PUP list.
Wide Receiver Victor Cruz
Not even wide receiver Victor Cruz could avoid the injury bug last season, as the Giants’ leading receiver in 2013 suffered a knee injury late in the third quarter of the Giants' Week 15 game against the Seattle Seahawks.
The injury unofficially ended Cruz’s season, causing him to come up just two yards shy of his third straight season with 1,000 receiving yards.
Moreover, the injury necessitated arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, which ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported was a debridement procedure performed by Dr. James Andrews.
Some four months later, Cruz, who has thrust himself headfirst into learning the new offense being installed by Ben McAdoo, has a renewed sense of vigor.
“I’m a 100 percent and ready to go,” he said. “My knee feels great and I’m excited to be back in this building and smelling this grass again.”
He has good reason to be excited, as he’s potentially looking at having an even bigger role in the Giants offense.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), of Cruz’s 501 routes run last year, 344 of them (68.7 percent) came in the slot.
This year, with Hakeem Nicks having departed via free agency for the Indianapolis Colts and with Jerrel Jernigan showing some flashes of being effective as a slot receiver, Cruz said he’s hoping that McAdoo considers using him on the outside as well.
“I feel like I’m a guy who can play inside and outside very well and I think that’s where I’m going to be utilized, kind of all over the field,” he said.
“Wherever I can get the ball the most and help this team most, that’s where I want to be. I don’t care if it’s inside or outside. I would definitely like for it to be a mixture of both.”
With a potentially increased role, Cruz is also hoping to get back to being the home run threat that he was in 2011 when he finished third in the league with 25 receptions of 20 or more yards.
“I want to have more big plays. I want to break more tackles, catch that ball in the open space and make things happen,” he said.
“I think a lot of it last year was that there were a lot of eyes on me last year. So I want to just catch the ball and get as much as I can get. This year I want to really take the call and create that home run play out of every small play.”
Linebacker Jon Beason
No, he didn’t have any offseason surgeries after last season. And yes, he definitely brought stability to a linebacker unit—and defense, for that matter—that, prior to his arrival, struggled.
For as good as Beason looked last season after he started donning that Giants helmet, he still wasn’t anywhere close to being the three-time Pro Bowl inside force he was in 2007-2010, especially when it came to coverage.
There’s a very good reason for that.
The last time that Beason spent a full offseason completely devoted to training for an upcoming football season was in was in 2010, his last Pro Bowl berth.
Since then, he’s had two significant soft tissue injuries, including a torn Achilles suffered in the 2011 season opener while as a member of the Panthers and a knee issue for which he had surgery in 2012.
As a result, in the ensuing offseasons, he’s had to mix in a healthy dose of rehab activities to his training regimen as he worked to regain the strength, flexibility, speed and quickness, a process that doesn't happen overnight.
“A lot of times guys have injuries in the offseason and have surgery and people expect they’re just going to go out and be who they are as opposed to having the chance to actually go through the training where you’re stronger and faster and in great condition to where you can make the plays at a high level more consistently," Beason said.
The good news is that this offseason the man nicknamed “The Beast” was finally able to put all of his focus on training.
And if you thought he was pretty good last year in the Giants defensive scheme, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Beason no longer has to worry about rehabbing, and because he was able to train the way he felt he needed to, he believes he’s going to be able to raise his level of play even higher than it was last season.
"It’s fun to actually just train, he said. "You want to be the best so you put the time in, you double up and try to play at a high level."
At the same time, Beason said he knows it's important to be smart and not overdo things, despite his burning desire to do whatever it takes to play at the highest possible level.
"That’s part of becoming a vet; you have to be smart and realize it’s all about when to recover and when to push it," he said.
That's exactly the approach he's taken so far, and he's hoping to reap the rewards this season.
“I feel good. I’m in good shape and I’ll be able to play at a much higher level than last year when I was just scratching the surface.”