Shockey might only need three weeks off
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jeremy Shockey's season may not be over after all.
The tight end got a second opinion on his sprained left knee and New York Giants coach Jim Fassel said Wednesday Shockey could be back on the field in about three weeks.
"I am not saying it's better," Fassel said. "Some guys are quick healers and all that stuff."
Shockey sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 27-7 loss to Atlanta. The Giants initially said he would be sidelined six to eight weeks, basically the rest of the regular season.
A lot depends on what the Giants (4-5) do over the next few weeks. New York will be at Philadelphia (6-3) Sunday and it will play Tampa Bay on Nov. 24. If the Giants are still in the playoff hunt, the likelihood of Shockey getting back might increase.
The problem facing the Giants now is life without the Pro Bowler who set a team record last season for tight ends with 74 catches. His 48 catches this year are a team high and his 535 yards receiving are second best. His big-play ability also forces opponents to account for him every play.
"We're definitely going to miss Shockey, there's no question about that," wide out Ike Hilliard said. "With him meaning so much to this offense, with what he brought to the table, we're going to miss his enthusiasm and play-making ability."
The Giants also are going to miss the problems Shockey poses for defenses.
With Marcellus Rivers and third-round draft pick Visanthe Shiancoe playing tight end, the Eagles probably won't have to keep a safety near the line of scrimmage. That also will allow them to double-team Hilliard and Amani Toomer more often.
The job of picking up for Shockey at tight end will fall to Rivers. The third-year pro has 10 catches for 91 yards and a lot more experience than Shiancoe, who is still making rookie mistakes.
"Our whole tight end corps is athletic and can do a lot of jobs," Rivers said. "Of course, Jeremy is our leader, but that doesn't mean we can't go out and execute the plays like we did in the past."
Rivers said he has run Shockey's patterns in practice.
"I am confident doing what we are doing," Rivers said. "All we can do is what coach asks us to do."
Not only will the Giants miss Shockey's pass-catching ability, but he is also the best blocker among the tight ends.
"He's a strong kid," offensive tackle Luke Petitgout said of Shockey. "He's a better receiver than a blocker, but he's a good blocker, too. It's going to hurt not having him in there. He likes to get after people."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press