The last time the New York Giants visited Lucas Oil Stadium, they defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. Peyton Manning was still on the Indianapolis Colts‘ roster, and Eli Manning was cementing his status as Indy cult hero. I can’t speak for all Colts fans, but because of the Manning brother connection and Eli’s near slap-stick propensity for beating the Patriots, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for the Giants. I’ve never had a good reason not to like them.
However, Saturday’s preseason game between the Colts and the Giants will have something real at stake. The old story of “Eli’s never beaten his big brother’s team” no longer applies. Instead, this game will be a measuring stick for free agent receiver Hakeem Nicks, who spent his first five seasons in New York, including that XLVI Super Bowl win.
I always thought well of Nicks, possibly because, as previously stated, I always thought well of the Giants in general. I liked it when the Colts signed him; I liked the idea of him complementing T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne and giving Andrew Luck another experienced target. I liked it when Hilton described this receiving corps as having “three No. 1 receivers” instead of a more conventional depth chart. That’s why it gave me a bit of whiplash when little jolts of negativity started leaking out regarding Nicks.
In an interview with the Terre Haute Tribune Star, Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton seemed to insinuate that Nicks wasn’t in shape during training camp. Nicks kind of disappeared from media coverage to the point that I almost forgot he was on the roster. Reviewing his stats from last year (and keeping in mind that the Giants and Eli had a deplorable season across the board), Nicks didn’t have any touchdowns; he had less than 900 yards. There were rumors that he wasn’t playing hard, avoiding the risk of injury because his contract was up. As far as I could find, the Giants made no attempts to keep him.
Against his former team, Nicks will have the opportunity to show his new team what he’s really made of. Word on the street is that the first-teamers are going to play the entire first quarter, and even once Matt Hasselbeck goes in, Nicks should still be able to get the ball. Nicks is only 26 years old — he’s had moments, but he can’t afford to spend another season saving himself for a big contract. Whatever the best is he has to show us, we’ll see it on Saturday.