Kayvon Thibodeaux avoided the worst-case scenario, but he might not be ready for Week 1.
The Giants’ No. 5 overall pick sprained the MCL in his right knee on Sunday night’s low block by Cincinnati Bengals tight end Thaddeus Moss, head coach Brian Daboll said Monday afternoon.
Daboll would not put a timetable on Thibodeaux’s recovery, but an ESPN report said the pass rusher is expected to miss 3-to-4 weeks. And the Giants’ Sept. 11 season opener at Tennessee is less than three weeks away from Monday, when an MRI revealed the damage.
The report said the Giants are still hopeful Thibodeaux can play in Nashville. But based on the timeline, it’s clearly possible – if not likely – that Thibodeaux won’t be ready.
“I’d say it’s day-to-day, really,” Daboll said on a Zoom call. “I’m not forecasting when a player can come back or not come back. I know he’ll come in and get treatment, we’ll take it day by day, and when he’s ready to go out there, that’s when we’ll put him out there.
“Fingers crossed,” the Giants’ head coach added, “hopefully his rehab goes well and he can get out there as soon as [possible].”
Thibodeaux, 21, the Giants’ top rookie draft pick out of Oregon, had been eager to play more on Sunday night than the 14 snaps he’d gotten in the preseason opener at New England. He went down on his 17th snap against the Bengals.
In a rebuilding year for the Giants’ franchise, nothing is more important than the selection, development and growth of young cornerstone draft picks and signings.
So in one sense, it was a major relief that Monday’s MRI found Thibodeaux’s right ACL and meniscus to still be intact.
But on the flip side, losing him for any amount of time is discouraging. And the Giants have to hope this injury doesn’t lead to more issues once Thibodeaux returns this fall.
“Every time you miss a practice – It’s valuable to be out at practice,” Daboll said. “You try to simulate it as best you can to gain live reps, but as many repetitions as any of our guys can get, whether it’s a rookie or a veteran, I think that helps them.
“So K.T. has been doing everything we’ve asked him to do since he’s been here,” the coach added. “He’s been a good teammate. He’s worked extremely hard. You never want to miss time, but he has the right attitude, the right approach.”
Injuries, unfortunately, have become the frustrating theme of Daboll’s first training camp.
The Giants got worse news on rookie inside linebacker Darrian Beavers: the Cincinnati product tore the ACL in his left knee. His season is over.
That means six of the team’s 11 draft picks are now injured: Thibodeaux, third-round OL Josh Ezeudu (unknown), third-round corner Cor’Dale Flott (grion), fourth-round safety Dane Belton (broken collarbone), fifth-round tackle Marcus McKethan (torn ACL) and Beavers.
Plus fifth-round defensive tackle D.J. Davidson limped off late in Sunday’s game, too, though there was no update on him Monday.
The Giants are averaging one torn ACL per outing on the MetLife Stadium turf so far – McKethan during an Aug. 5 practice and Beavers in Sunday’s exhibition against Cincinnati.
“It’s tough,” Daboll said of losing young players. “McKethan had one, and now Beavers has one. For young players that’s tough, particularly guys that were developing and doing a good job in camp with a bright future.”
Daboll was asked why he thought the Giants have had so many injuries and whether it’s been overwhelming to deal with.
“I think injuries are a part of the game,” he said. “You never want guys to get hurt, but that’s the nature of playing a contact, physical sport at the highest level. Certain things happen that some are out of your control … You try to build as deep a roster as you can so the next guy’s up, but you never want guys on your team or on the other team for that matter.
“You have empathy towards that and you try your best to eliminate as many injuries as you can,” he continued. “But it’s a physical sport with a lot of contact and people moving at high speeds, and unfortunately you’re gonna have some of those.”
This is about far more than playing a contact sport, though. The Giants are decimated coming off a light workload in the spring and early summer.
The following 27 players were either inactive Sunday due to injury or got hurt in the game:
Offense (16): C Jon Feliciano, LG Shane Lemieux (foot), OL Ben Bredeson (right arm), OL Jamil Douglas (ankle), OL Garrett McGhin, OL Nick Gates (leg), OL Matt Peart (ACL), Ezeudu, McKethan, WR Sterling Shepard (Achilles), WR Kadarius Toney, WR Darius Slayton, RB Matt Breida, RB Gary Brightwell, TE Ricky Seals-Jones, TE Andrew Miller (broken right forearm)
Defense (nine): DL Leonard Williams, edge Elerson Smith (boot on right foot), edge Jihad Ward, CB Rodarius Williams, Flott, Belton, Thibodeaux, Beavers, Davidson
Special teams (two): K Graham Gano (concussion), C.J. Board (rib)
Daboll admitted GM Joe Schoen might bring in a kicker for the Giants’ upcoming preseason finale against the Jets due to Gano’s injury. Board is “sore,” a source said, so hopefully he averted a major issue.
As for Thibodeaux’s injury, the Giants said Moss’ low block was legal and inside the tackle box. Daboll was asked if Thibodeaux could have done anything to protect himself.
“Those are tough blocks, the blocks that are coming from across the line of scrimmage within the tackle box,” Daboll said. “You’ve gotta see it, then you’ve gotta do a great job of trying to play with your hands. It’s unfortunate that K.T. went down. But that’s part of the game.”
It’s part of the game that is biting the Giants too often if they hope to field a winning product starting on Sept. 11 in Nashville.
SILLS, JOHNSON STANDING OUT
It was already obvious that wide receivers Collin Johnson and David Sills had been separating themselves this training camp, but Daboll rubber-stamped it Monday when discussing how he’d decide which wideouts make the final 53-man roster.
“The guys who have been out there and are producing – guys like Collin Johnson and David Sills – they’ve stepped up and they’re right in the mix, not just to make the team but to play,” Daboll said.
The coach interestingly said it could be “the five best or six best or seven best players [at receiver], however many we’re gonna keep.”
The Giants have until 4 p.m. Tuesday to cut their 85-man roster to 80. Then they’ll cut to 53 a week later on Aug. 30.