Mathias Kiwanuka Placed On Injured Reserve

The New York Giants have placed defensive end/linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka on injured reserve due to the herniated disc in his neck.

That move can't come as a complete shock to anyone, though it is incredibly unfortunate. Kiwanuka was the Giants best defensive player in the first three games this season, recording four sacks. Much of what the Giants had planned to do defensively revolved around Kiwanuka's flexibility, and now Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul are being asked to do some of those things.

To cast an even bigger pall over the news, Ralph Vacchiano is speculating that Kiwanuka's career with the Giants might be over.

Kiwanuka’s future is now a mystery, and not just because of the herniated disc - - which was originally diagnosed as a bulging disc, before he saw Dr. Robert Watkins, a spine specialist, in Los Angeles last week. A herniated disc is what ended linebacker Antonio Pierce’s career midway through the 2009 season, so a full recovery is not a guarantee.

Even if he does recover, however, Kiwanuka does not have a contract for 2011. Presumably the fifth-year veteran will be an unrestricted free agent, though his exact status won’t be known until the new collective bargaining agreement is signed. Kiwanuka previously had expressed some frustration that the Giants hadn’t already offered him a contract extension.

It’s not clear if he’d be willing to sign one now, or if the Giants would even be willing to commit to a player with a disc problem in his neck.

To be honest, I don't even want to think about that. Let's hope for a recovery, and let's hope he and the Giants can find a way to keep him with the team after this season.

The only good news on the day is that the Giants have signed return man/cornerback Will Blackmon in hopes that he can boost their struggling return game.

Blackmon will take Kiwanuka's roster spot, and likely will take over return duties from Darius Reynaud, who has averaged only 5.9 yards on punt returns and 18.4 yards on kickoff returns (33rd in the league).

From Vacchiano, here is the lowdown on Blackmon:

Blackmon, who turned 26 yesterday, averaged 11 yards per punt return (47 for 515 yards and three touchdowns) and 21.1 per kickoff return (66-1,393) from 2007 through Week 4 of last year when he tore a ligament in his knee and ended up on injured reserve. The defensive back, who was a fourth-round pick by the Packers in 2006, tried to make a comeback this year but had preseason knee troubles and landed on injured reserve.

The Packers eventually waived him with an injury settlement. He worked out for the Giants on Tuesday. His agent said via e-mail that he will officially sign his contract "sometime today."

The Giants must be satisfied that Blackmon's knee will not be an issue. Besides, improving over what Reynaud has given them thus far should not be difficult.
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