After hurting his knee at the end of a long catch-and-run that put the New York Giants in position to close out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2, Hakeem Nicks never looked the same. The 6-1 receiver who boasts an impressive combination of size, speed and strength — posting a 4.51 as a first-rounder in 2009 — struggled to beat defensive backs in many of the ways that had almost become expected on any given down, and New York would love to see him display that again in training camp if he eventually shows up.
Nicks is the type of receiver that can out-physical cornerbacks off a screen, win the jump ball, reel in passes when well-covered or beat them deep as he did to Aqib Talib in that aforementioned Week 2 contest. However, adding a knee injury to his already ailing foot from offseason surgery more or less shut him down, even if he appeared in 13 games last season. His 692 yards and three touchdowns pale in comparison to his last 13-game season in 2010 when he notched 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Nicks’ immense skill at locating and bringing down the ball still made him a good target in short yardage situations last year but so many of the dangerous facets of his game left with his explosiveness. Eli Manning now has another worry to go along with Nicks’ and Victor Cruz‘ contract situations, as Nicks enters the final year of his contract while Cruz was tendered to stick around for at least one more.
Both Nicks and Cruz have yet to show up for Giants OTAs.
“I have to worry about the guys that are here,” Manning said, via SB Nation. “That’s all I can do. I’ve got to worry about each practice and trying to get better, making sure I know what I’m doing, working on the things that I need to improve on and then talking over with the guys who are out there on the field about each play, watching film with them, making sure we’re on the same page and we have a chance to go out there and win the practices.”