One of the goals for the Giants in training camp was to find a capable No. 3 receiver, but they will spend most, if not all, of their summer without their top receiver, Hakeem Nicks, a huge component in their Super Bowl-winning 2011 season.
Nicks yesterday showed why there is always a risk when a player steps onto the field, even when no one is wearing pads and no contact is allowed. Nicks fractured a bone in his right foot in a morning OTA session and, following surgery, is expected to be out at least three months.
Nicks was hurt early in practice inside the team’s field house while running a route in individual drills. He broke the fifth metatarsal and will have surgery in Charlotte, N.C., today to have a screw inserted into the broken bone. The procedure will be performed by foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson.
The Giants said the recovery time for Nicks is approximately 12 weeks. Their regular season begins Sept. 5, meaning if all goes well Nicks will be able to play in the opener against the Cowboys. He will miss the remaining seven OTAs, the veteran mini-camp and, possibly all of training camp at the University at Albany. Camp opens July 26 and runs through Aug. 14.
“It’s probably going to be close,’’ coach Tom Coughlin told the NFL Network about Nicks’ chances of making the season opener. “He feels very confident about it. The doctors have expressed it as being something that they think will heal very, very well. We certainly hope that Hakeem is correct in saying that he heals fast.’’
Last season, Nicks caught 76 passes for a career-high 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns and constantly attracted special attention from opposing defenses. He was a force in the postseason, leading all NFL receivers with 28 catches for 444 yards along with four touchdowns. He has shown impressive toughness with the Giants while dealing with several leg and foot issues and also ankle and hamstring problems.
With Nicks, the Giants were searching for a No. 3 receiver to replace Mario Manningham, who signed with the 49ers, and will sort through Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden, Domenik Hixon and rookie second-round pick Rueben Randle as candidates. Without Nicks on the field, there will be increased opportunities for all those receivers, with Victor Cruz the only established player in the bunch.
If the Giants get Nicks back in mid-August they will consider themselves fortunate. Last year, first-round pick Prince Amukamara suffered the same injury and was out of action for 15 weeks. In 2010, offensive tackle Will Beatty missed two months with the same broken bone.
The OTAs have already not been kind to the Giants, who lost cornerback Brian Witherspoon on Wednesday in the first OTA practice. For the second time in 10 months, Witherspoon tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Witherspoon was waived yesterday and replaced on the roster by defensive back Dante Hughes, a six-year veteran who tried out for the team at the rookie mini-camp two weeks ago.
Hughes has played for the Colts and the past three seasons for the Chargers, appearing in 53 regular-season games with two starts. Last season, Hughes played in all 16 games for the Chargers with one start. He finished the season with a career-high 42 tackles (32 solo). Hughes was originally a 2007 third-round draft pick by the Colts out of California.
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