Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks broke a bone in his right foot during the New York Giants’ organized team activity session on Thursday, and he became yet another example of the perils of the NFL’s voluntary (but-you-better-be there) offseason practices.
Nicks fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot while running a route, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported, and the Giants announced an expected recovery time of 12 weeks. The team’s standout but often-injury prone receiver — who had a career-high 1,192 receiving yards in 2011 alongside Victor Cruz and departed free agent Mario Manningham — will undergo surgery on Friday in Charlotte, N.C., to have a screw inserted in the bone.
With a 12-week recovery timetable, the Giants can expect to be without one of the top receiving threats until midway through the preseason, if all goes well. What doesn’t bode well: The defending Super Bowl champions lost their 2011 first-round pick, cornerback Prince Amukamara, to the same injury last season and he did not play until Week 11.
Amukamara broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot on Aug. 7 and did not return for 15 weeks. Each player heals differently, but Nicks, 24, has proved to be vulnerable to foot injuries throughout his brief NFL career. In 2010, Nicks sustained a broken toe in his left foot, and surgery knocked him out the last four games of the season.
Luckily, the Giants are deep at receiver: With Nicks out indefinitely, they will rely on Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden, Jerrel Jernigan and rookie Rueben Randle, a second-round pick through the preseason.
Coach Tom Coughlin tried to be optimistic about Nicks’ latest injury, telling the NFL Network he believes his best route runner could heal in time for the regular-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 5.
“It’s probably going to be close,” Coughlin said of Nicks’ availability for the NFL’s kickoff game. "He feels very confident about it. The doctors have expressed it as being something that they think will heal very, very well."
The Giants’ first OTA of the offseason has been troublesome from the start. On Wednesday, cornerback/returner Brian Witherspoon tore his ACL for the second time in two seasons and was waived with an injury designation.
And while the no-show of Osi Umenyirora at these workouts was not unexpected, the defensive end’s contract status was pushed to the forefront once again by his high-profile absence.
Umenyiora, 30, entering the final season of a seven-year $41 million deal, has been openly vocal the past two years about his desire for a reworked contract, as well as his contentious relationship with Giants general manager Jerry Reese.
Last month, the one-time Pro Bowler wrote an email to the New York Daily News criticizing and comparing his ongoing contract negotiations to those of linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, who was offered $10.95 million guaranteed during his talks with Reese.
"Last year I was offered incentives," Umenyiora wrote in the email. "This year they offered me in guaranteed money, HALF of what they just gave Kiwi guaranteed. HALF. I’m not making that up.
"Then Jerry tells the world they offered me an extension and I turned it down," he wrote. "And I look like a greedy pig for turning it down. Hilarious."
The Giants open training camp at the University of Albany on July 26, and it’s anyone’s guess whether Umenyiora will repeat his 2011 protest and not report on time if his contract situation remains unsettled.