Late Tuesday night, Hakeem Nicks said he was excited about the opportunity to play a regular season NFL game in his hometown for the first time.
The New York Giants wide receiver had gotten so many tickets for friends, family members and coaches that he couldn’t even give an estimated head count.
Wednesday afternoon, Nicks was downgraded from questionable to out for Thursday night’s game against the Panthers, and he didn’t make the trip to Charlotte with the team.
The former Independence High and University of North Carolina standout has been nursing a foot injury. Nicks fractured his foot in late May during organized team activities and did not play until the final game of the preseason.
“As a wide receiver we run for a living, we cut, we break, we run routes non-stop,” Nicks told the Observer Tuesday night, before he was downgraded to out. “You have to have your foot game in check. To have a broken bone in your foot definitely isn’t easy, but you have to have a strong mentality that you’ll overcome it.”
Sunday, Nicks put up the biggest game for a wide receiver in the league this season, catching 10 Eli Manning passes for 199 yards and a touchdown to help the Giants beat Tampa Bay. He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.
The Giants typically rest Nicks between games, and this week was no different. He did not participate in practice Monday or Tuesday and did not do walk-throughs on Wednesday before the team left for Charlotte.
“He’s a tough guy,” Manning said of Nicks on Tuesday. “He wants to be out there, and he’s working hard to get it to 100 percent. He obviously doesn’t make it to practice, but come game time he shows up and does a great job.”
The Giants being without a big playmaker like Nicks should lighten the load for the Panthers defense Thursday night.
“He’s a Pro Bowl player, and I think one of the best wide receivers in the game. You saw (Sunday) Tampa Bay tried to match him up,” Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said earlier in the week. “And he’s tough. He drew several penalties. Plus the production catching the ball, run after the catch, he’s strong. He’s one of the best in the game.”
Nicks isn’t the only member of the Giants’ offense out against the Panthers. Fellow wide receiver Domenik Hixon, running back Ahmad Bradshaw and offensive lineman David Diehl are all out for Thursday.