How big of a deal is Hakeem Nicks' fractured foot to the New York Giants' prospects for the 2012 season? Well, that depends on who you ask, and how well Nicks recovers from the injury.
So, what is the truth? The truth is there is no way to know right now. Coach Tom Coughlin said Thursday that Nicks' return for the beginning of the regular season is "probably going to be close."
The Giants estimated Nicks' recovery time at 12 weeks, which would have him available to begin practicing again in mid-August. As Gay pointed out, though, Prince Amukamara had this same injury a year ago and his recovery took more like 15 weeks.
Something else to remember. Amukamara was playing by Week 11, but we now know that the foot remained an issue throughout the season. Why else would he have shown up at an offseason memorabilia show wearing a boot to promote further healing in the broken bone? Speaking of feet, we know that Ahmad Bradshaw's troubles with his feet never really go away.
The question really is not -- or should not be -- whether or not the Giants have the depth to overcome Nicks' injury. The Giants have Ramses Barden, Domenik Hixon, Jerrel Jernigan and second-round pick Rueben Randle and several promising undrafted free agents. They have plenty of players to get through the preseason, and the additional reps will help guys like Randle and Jernigan.
Even if Nicks is not ready at the beginning of the season the Giants should be OK in the short term, even though that means with Mario Manningham in San Francisco two thirds of last season's three-headed receiving monster is gone.
The question really isn't even when will Nicks be playing again? The question is when will Nicks be Nicks again? The Nicks-Victor Cruz tandem was so successful a season ago because when teams doubled one receiver the other would make them pay by having huge games.
Inevitably now, teams will double Cruz and see if Nicks has the ability to cut, the ability to separate, to push off that injured foot and make them pay for trying to take the salsa dance out of the Giants' offense.
How soon Nicks will be able to make defenses pay for that transgression is the real question. And, if he isn't ready to do it from Week 1 is there anyone else who can?