Here we go again -- the New York Giants have ruled out Hakeem Nicks for Sunday's game (Oct. 7)against the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium.
Nicks hasn't played since week two when he destroyed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 10 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown. It may seem like New York hasn't missed him -- Ramses Barden and Domenik Hixon each have stepped up in his absence -- but we know that's not the case.
Nicks is a key part of the Big Blue's pass-happy offense and his extended absence is starting to get worrisome, to say the least. Nicks, who broke his foot in the preseason, was supposed to be getting stronger as the season went along, but he seems to be taking steps backwards in his recovery. And it's making the job of Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride more difficult.
"Well, you're losing a terrific football player who not only is extremely important to what you do, he's invaluable just in terms of his leadership and his ability in the big moment to make the bigger play," Gilbride told Giants.com, speaking of Nicks. "So you lose that and you know that and you're not going to make it up with one guy."
Barden and Hixon took turns playing the role of Nicks the last two weeks. Barden blew up for nine catches for 138 yards against the Carolina Panthers on September 20. Last week, Hixon caught six passes for 114 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles. But how much longer can backups play like stars? Barden (concussion) did not practice on Thursday (Oct. 4) and likely won't play on Sunday.
Let's face it, the Giants need the vastly underrated Nicks, who in his last six games played, including last year's playoffs, has amassed 681 yards and five touchdowns. His mere presence takes pressure off Victor Cruz and the other receivers and prevents defenses from stacking against the run. The Giants may get away with not having him against the Browns, who have the 28th-ranked pass defense in the NFL, but they're not going to get away with not having him for long.
So get well soon, Hakeem!
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. He grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans. Adam follows back Giants fans on Twitter @PegCitySports.