Commentary

No need to worry about Hakeem Nicks

Giants wide receiver returns to practice two days after a scary fall in practice

Updated: August 6, 2010, 3:21 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks said it was only a second when he felt pain in his knee, an "ouch" moment as he describes it.

Fortunately for the Giants, the pain ended there and the team won't have to suffer through yet another devastating injury. After hyperextending his right knee Tuesday, Nicks missed only two days after leaving the practice field on a cart. He did return to practice Thursday afternoon.

"I didn't think there was nothing wrong, but it was something I wanted to get checked out because it was like for that slight second, I felt a little something," Nicks said Thursday. "But I felt like I was fine.

[+] EnlargeHakeem Nicks
AP Photo/Mike GrollAn injury-plagued rookie season kept Hakeem Nicks from showing what he could do.

"I just came down straight-legged and hyperextended it a little bit. They wanted to check it out just to make sure it was nothing serious because it looked a lot worse."

Perhaps the Giants' karma with injuries is actually turning around. After Nicks' first MRI came out a bit unclear, the team sent the receiver to Manhattan to have his knee examined by Dr. Russell Warren at the Hospital for Special Surgery. A second MRI on Wednesday revealed nothing more serious.

This was great news after the team lost its top returner, Domenik Hixon, to a torn ACL during a practice at the New Meadowlands Stadium in June.

"It didn't strike me like I was going to be out for the whole season," Nicks said of what he thought about when he was carted off. "It was like an 'ouch' at the moment. Once I got up and walked off, it was fine."

After suffering through an injury-plagued season last year and having countless players either coming off surgeries or dealing with nagging aches and pains, the Giants could not afford another blow. This would have been a significant injury had Nicks been forced to miss time. The 6-foot-1 wide receiver could emerge as Eli Manning's deadliest threat. Nicks is looking to expand on his six touchdowns and 16.8 yard-per-catch average as a rookie. Despite playing with a toe injury that kept him out of two games, Nicks still broke off big plays, like his 68-yard touchdown against the Eagles on Dec. 13.

Nicks underwent surgery on his toe in the offseason, and the team has brought him along slowly, holding him out of several offseason training activity workouts and minicamp practices. Before he hyperextended his knee, he was practicing once a day, but Nicks said he will start practicing twice a day next week. He hopes to lock down the starting spot opposite Steve Smith. Mario Manningham, who has been nursing a groin injury, will compete with Nicks for time.

"I feel like I missed enough time in the spring," Nicks said. "I'm ready to get after it now. I just want to continue to be better."

Nicks, who had 47 receptions for 790 yards, traveled to New Orleans in early July for three days to work with Manning. He helped out at Manning's football camp and spent about 45 minutes a day catching passes from Manning. It may have only been a few days, but Nicks wanted to build chemistry with his quarterback.

"It was very beneficial because we got to get on the same page; we got to hang out a little bit and feel each other out and develop a little bit of a relationship off the field as well," Nicks said.

To see the results show up on the field, Nicks knows he needs to keep practicing, stay healthy and show more consistency.

"[Working with Manning] will help, but what he needs is the coaches with him and telling him what to do," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said in June. "Eli will help certainly; catching as many balls from him and trying to use Eli as an extension of the coaching staff will certainly be beneficial to him. But he needs to be here with the coaches telling him what to do and also the opportunity to compete against somebody who is playing him defensively, trying to shut him down."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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