Giants receiver Steve Smith out for rest of season

Eli Manning is not going to have go-to Pro Bowl receiver Steve

Smith for rest of the season, and maybe longer.

Smith injured the articular cartilage in his left knee in the

win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday and will need

season-ending knee surgery.

An orthopedic surgeon told The Associated Press the surgery

requires a very long rehabilitation process, but it is possible

Smith might be ready for training camp.

Smith, who set a team record with 107 catches last season, was

hurt on the opening play of the fourth quarter when he was tackled

from behind on a 12-yard reception, his 48th of the season. The

game was his first since partially tearing a pectoral muscle in

practice on Nov. 11.

”I feel bad for Steve,” coach Tom Coughlin said. ”He fights

his way back, he gets back on the field, he gets a little bit

acclimated to game conditions again, and then is injured.”

Smith is the fifth Giants’ receiver to be knocked out since

minicamp, and the third since the season started, joining Ramses

Barden and Victor Cruz.

The bottom line is the Giants (9-4) will now face the

Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) on Sunday in the showdown for first place

in the NFC East with Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham being

Manning’s prime targets, and Derek Hagan, Michael Clayton and Devin

Thomas filling in when the team uses three- or four-receiver


Nicks returned to the lineup on Monday after missing three games

with a lower leg injury and said he was sore on Wednesday.

Manningham had to leave the game with a hip injury. While Manning

called Smith’s injury unfortunate, he said the other receivers have

to step up.

”We have Hakeem back and Mario, those guys are playing well,”

Manning said. ”Hagan has been here for a month and is playing well

and Michael Clayton. We have numbers now, where we can put guys in

different positions and they can go out there and play well.”

The burden will fall on Nicks, who had seven catches for 96

yards against the Vikings. His nine touchdown receptions lead the


”I don’t feel like it puts more pressure on me,” he said. ”I

just have to rise up to the occasion. Mario Manningham will step

up, Derek Hagan will step up. I’m just going to continue to hold it

down on my part.”

Manningham guaranteed that he would be ready for Sunday, despite

missing the second half vs. the Vikings. He did not practice


”I’ll be all right,” he said. ”Trust me. I’ll be good to


Hagan, who has caught 13 passes since re-signing with the Giants

four games ago, said it’s all hands on deck for the injury-ravaged

wide receiver corps.

”It’s almost like every year there is one position which is

always hurt on any team,” said Hagan, who was cut at the end of

training camp. ”It was the DBs last year. It’s unfortunate, but

injuries happen in this game and you have to have guys who can come

in and play right away. Obviously, the team brought me back for a

reason, to help this team win and I got to do what I got to do to

get this victory.”

Dr. Russell Warren examined Smith at the Hospital for Special

Surgery on Tuesday and diagnosed the injury to the fourth-year

player’s articular cartilage. No date has been set for the


Dr. Michael Kelly, the chairman of department of orthopedic

surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center, said the recovery

period from surgery involving articular cartilage can be lengthy

because the cartilage has no ability to regenerate itself. Kelly

said the articulate cartilage helps cushion the bone.

”If articular cartilage surgery is performed, depending on the

surgical procedure itself, the recovery involves limited weight

bearing, so an extensive period on crutches, and then limited

impact activity, such as running for many months,” Kelly said in a

telephone interview with The AP. ”It depends on what they do, the

size and location. It all influences the recovery significantly. No

matter how you do it, it takes a while.”

Kelly said Smith has a chance to be ready for training camp.

NOTES: Starting right guard Chris Snee did not practice because

of a hip injury. Center Shaun O’Hara (foot), tackle Shawn Andrews

(back) and defensive end Osi Umenyiora (knee) practiced on a

limited basis.