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Giants’ Nick Gates on a long, painful road back from devastating injury

When will Gates play again? That seems impossible to know

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New York Giants v Cleveland Browns
Nick Gates
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

What does the future hold for New York Giants offensive lineman Nick Gates, trying to come back from a gruesome fractured leg suffered in Week 2 of the 2021 season.

Let’s discuss Gates as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.

By the numbers

Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 307
Age: 26
Position: OL
Experience: 4
Contract: Final year of two-year, $6.82 million extension | Guaranteed salary: $0 | 2022 cap hit: $3.004 million

Career to date

An undrafted free agent out of Nebraska, Gates spent the 2018 season on IR, was a versatile guard/tackle backup in 2019 and became the Giants starting center in 2020. He suffered an awful-looking fractured leg in Week 2 of the 2021 season while playing guard in place of the injured Shane Lemieux.

Gates told Dan Duggan of The Athletic that when he watched a replay of the injury he “just saw my leg crunch.”

“(Jonathan) Allen put a hump move on me, and I was just trying to fight (him) off as hard as I could,” Gates said. “That’s a hard move. Once they get sunk in, it’s hard to fight it. I was just hoping (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) would get rid of the ball. He stepped up and I guess (Daron) Payne jumped and the next thing I knew, I snapped my leg. I just had all my weight on one leg and it just happened.”

2022 outlook

The harsh reality is that Gates’ NFL career might be over. And he knows it. This is what he told Duggan:

“I don’t even know,” Gates said when asked recently when he could return. “It’s so hard to tell. It’s slow. I don’t know if I’ll definitely be able to play again, but that’s my goal. I want to.”

Throughout spring practices, Gates made an appearance on the field almost every time there was media availability. Wearing a red No. 65 jersey, he would usually stroll slowly to the field with Matt Peart, rehabbing a torn ACL, at some point after his teammates had begun their on-field work.

Gates moves with a slight, but noticeable limp. The only time I saw him try to make a couple of shotgun on the sideline he came up in obvious discomfort, flexing that injured left leg.

Gates wants to play in 2022, telling Duggan that training camp is “a goal I’m trying to shoot for.”

Training camp, though, seems unrealistic. More likely, Gates begins camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. An educated guess is that he remains there for the first half of the season, perhaps even all of it.

Gates’ mother, Sonya, told Duggan that her son “will definitely play again.”

That is something we all hope proves to be true. It just seems like chances are that won’t be in 2022.