Dreams Dashed: Giants’ injury epidemic cuts down rising stars, optimism

·4 min read

The New York Giants entered the 2022 season with lots of optimism. They hired a young, forward-thinking general manager in Joe Schoen who, in turn, brought in the offensive-minded, player-oriented Brian Daboll as his head coach.

At the NFL draft, the Giants had two selections in the first seven and chose Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux at No. 5 and then took the massive Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal two picks later.

The Giants, who have lost 10 or more games in seven of the past eight seasons, were finally ready to turn their listing ship around.

They forgot about one thing, however. The lingering cloud of injuries that has hovered over this franchise for more than a decade. Since 2009, the Giants have the most ‘man games lost’ due to injury, and as Bill Parcells would say, there’s not a close second.

This year, instead of the epidemic subsiding, it has metastasized.

The new regime has gone from upbeat and ready to take on the world to scrambling for healthy bodies. Thus far in training camp a total of at least 35 players have either been lost or held out due to injury, or have spent time on NFI, PUP or IR.

The revamped offensive line is operating at three-fifths power with center Jon Feliciano and guard Shane Lemieux still sitting out with nagging issues.

Kicker Graham Gano suffered a concussion attempting to make a tackle in last week’s preseason game against Cincinnati. Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari missed the first few weeks of training camp with a hamstring issue. He played in the Cincinnati game but was helped off the field after Thursday’s scrimmage with the Jets by two trainers with a lower leg injury that was, luckily, seemed “not serious.”

Two emerging young players who were on the brink of breaking through — rookie linebacker Darrian Beavers (knee) and 6-foot-6 wide receiver Collin Johnson (Achilles) — were lost for the season before the preseason’s final game.

In addition, Thibodeaux is out indefinitely with an MCL sprain and this year’s fifth-round pick, offensive lineman Marcus McKethan, was lost early on with a torn ACL. Safety Dane Belton, taken in Round 4, broke his collar bone and his return is unknown.

The Giants’ two third-round picks — offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu and cornerback Cor’Dale Flott — are both currently sidelined. Last year’s top pick, wide receiver Kadarius Toney, is still limited and his health as the season nears has raised concerns although he is now running drills again.

Let’s not forget that two veteran free agents, tight end Ricky Seals-Jones and wideout Robert Foster, that the team was hoping would play key roles this year, were placed on season-ending injured reserve this week.

Daboll is taking things with a leveled approach, but even he has be wondering who put the whammy on this team.

“You go to bed. You get up. You have your meetings. You get the information you need to get. And whatever it is, I think you just deal with it. You have a plan on what you have to do to help the player get ready to go,” he said.

No one can seem to pinpoint a culprit for all of the these injuries. Many have pointed to the turf at MetLife Stadium, and that has been part of it, but the injuries are coming from all angles and in different settings.

Veteran Giants beat writer Art Stapleton, upon seeing the injury data since 2009, tweeted out the following:

In that span, Giants have changed coaching staff three times including this year, and strength and conditioning program twice. They are trying to find answers, even though the outside perspective is Giants refuse to do anything about it, which is not necessarily accurate.

Regardless, the Giants will once again be up against it personnel-wise. They are entering the season at 70-75 percent and it will go down from there.

Sure, injuries are part of the game. But there is a tipping point to where you can and can’t overcome them. Imagine trying to run your business with a quarter to a third of your personnel calling in sick. You’d have to hire temps. Business will suffer.

It’s no wonder the Giants are in the throes of a historic losing stretch.

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Story originally appeared on Giants Wire