When Geoff Schwartz was carted off the field during a preseason game against the New York Jets it's doubtful many people thought it would take until Week 12 of the regular season before the New York Giants saw their prized free-agent acquisition in uniform again.
A dislocated toe? Pop that thing back into place, get the swelling out of there, put some padding in that big old cleat and get back out there. Right? Well, not so fast. Toe injuries seem to be more and prevalent in the NFL (ask Jon Beason or Patrick Willis), and more severe and long-lasting than anyone might think when guys are playing on Field Turf and pushing around 300+ pound human beings. Plus, Schwartz is a massive 6-foot-6, 340-pound person.
"It was a pretty significant injury. It takes a little time for it to heal. Once you get it healed, it takes a little bit of time to get your strength back and that is kind of what it took," Schwartz said on Monday. "I am ready to go. I had a couple good weeks of practice. Last week was real good. I took every rep for the scout team. I felt good out there. I expect I'll be ready to go."
The Giants can certainly use Schwartz. They signed him to a four-year, $16.8 million contract to help anchor their offensive line. Schwartz had a great season for the Kansas City Chiefs a year ago, earning a +18.6 Pro Football Focus grade in 632 snaps. Clearly, the Giants can use him.
In his two full healthy seasons, Schwartz has been a devastating run blocker. Last season his run-blocking score was +10.5. In 2010 for the Carolina Panthers, it was +13.6.
"We need to finish on a positive note. Just speaking offensively, we have had some struggles running the ball and that starts with us up front. I think we need to re-establish that identity of running the ball. It is not going to be just me that helps with that. We have to do that as a whole unit and I am excited to be a part of that," Schwartz said. "It has to be done. That is our job, to run the ball, and especially when the weather gets bad. It keeps our defense off the field. That are a lot of reasons why running the ball is good for us. Hopefully I can just help with that process."
Is Schwartz worried about re-injuring the toe, as Beason did when he tried to play before his injury was completely healed?
"Every injury is a little different. Luckily for me, I don't run as much as they (linebackers) do. I don't have to do some of the movements that they have to do. There have been times where in practice I have done some things I didn't think I would be able to do and I felt fine afterwards," Schwartz said. "My shoes are good. They set me up good. It is a little different with the skill guys. They don't have the option to get the shoe that is real bulky and good for not being able to move my toe very much."