How big of a deal is the Nicks situation? Forget about Victor Cruz for a moment and put your focus on the Giants number one receiver. Hakeem Nicks has been absent from OTAs since they have started. Last week there were rumblings over at Yahoo! Sports that it was contract related, those rumors were later shot down. It then came out that he may have been absent because he was honored at an event the night before so he just did not have the energy to make it. Fast forward to this week, he is still a no show. All this time however, Hakeem has not spoken to Coughlin about not coming. All Tom knows is that Nicks told him he would be there. Eli has also vented some frustration about it:
(From ESPN) “You’ve still gotta work on your timing,” he later added. “You’ve still gotta work on the basics. Everybody needs it. I need the basics. I mean, how many times have I thrown a hitch in my life or a curl route? I’ve still gotta do it. But it is good to have other guys in there running routes and getting your timing down with other guys. That’s how you look at it, but you’d still like to have all your guys out there. We all need to work.” - Eli Manning
Should fans be worried? I do not think so. Is Hakeem going about this in the wrong way? Probably. He should at least have some communication with the team so they have a clue as to what is going on. Remember, Nicks broke the 5th metatarsal bone in his foot during the 2nd OTA last year and then ended up hurt all season trying to overcompensate for that injury, leading to the knee. I feel like Nicks is playing it safe by not coming to the OTAs, and we all know what a healthy Nicks can do.
The positive coming out of this situation is without Nicks, and obviously Cruz, the rest of the Giants WR corps is getting plenty of reps. Second year player Reuben Randle, who showed promise towards the end of last season should be getting plenty of number one reps with Nicks gone. Newcomer Louis Murphy, a real homerun threat, was signed this off season and has already shown some promise. Reports out of OTAs are that he and Eli already have chemistry flowing connecting on multiple nice plays. Say worst case scenario Cruz decided to hold out this season (will not happen), the Giants have Jerrell Jernigan to try his hand in the slot. Drafted in 2011, the fleet footed Jernigan may be in his last season as a Giant if he does not produce. Last but not least, the Giants brought back Ramses Barden, a 6’6” 224 pound wide receiver that showed glimpses of what he could do last year against Carolina in a spot start for Nicks, grabbing 9 for 138 yards.
Bottom line, do not be worried Giants fans. With the top two receivers missing OTAs, it is only opening the door for the whole wide receiver corps to get more reps. The Giants have one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and if he has chemistry with all of his wide receivers? Look out NFL secondaries.