Three-hundred and eighty-four days after suffering a catastrophic injury that nearly cost him his left leg, offensive lineman Nick Gates returned to practice for the New York Giants on Wednesday.
And Gates did that in style. The 26-year-old former team captain and starting center was asked by the coaching staff to break down the team huddle at the end of a walk-through on Wednesday morning.
“Much respect to really anybody that comes back from injuries but his injuries were significant,” said head coach Brian Daboll. “All the surgeries and he’s had nothing but a positive mindset since he’s been here.
“The guys were hooting and hollering when he was breaking them down you root for guys like that. It’s a tough industry we’re in in terms of physical things that can happen and just a lot of respect for him and what he’s done and and proud of the young man.”
Now that Gates has been designated to return from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, the Giants will have 21 days to decide whether Gates is physically ready to be added to the 53-man roster, or whether they will leave him sidelined for the entire 2022 season.
Gates joined the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He was the team’s starting center in 2020. In Week 2 of last season, playing guard after Shane Lemieux went down with a season-ending injury, Lemieux was injured in a game against the Washington Football Team.
Gates’ injury required multiple surgeries and there was doubt that he would ever play again. Wednesday, though, Gates took a major step forward toward doing that.
Jon Feliciano is currently the Giants’ starting center, but he is on a one-year contract and perhaps not part of the long-term plans. The left guard situation has been a bit of a revolving door.
If he proves capable of playing, Gates could figure into the equation at either of those positions.