It was a scary injury at the time, with the rookie’s knee bending in a way that can only be described as “wrong” as he was hit by a cut-block from Bengals’ TE Thaddeus Moss.
Thibodeaux said that he isn’t dwelling on the play that got him injured. He noted that he needs to play with better technique and injuries are to be expected in this sport.
“It’s football,” he said. “iIt’s a 100 percent injury rate. You’ve got to just be ready to recover when your time comes and be ready to be smart in different situations.”
The Giants, and Giants fans, immediately feared the worst. They heaved a collective sigh of relief when tests the following day revealed that he only had a sprained MCL.
The Giants and Giants’ fans sighed in relief, that is. Thibodeaux himself was still hurting.
“It wasn’t really a sigh,” he said. “My knee was hurting, don’t get me wrong, so it wasn’t really a sigh. It was just, this is what the results are, and I’ve got to go make a play, I’ve got to go make things happen, bounce back.”
While a sprained knee isn’t good, it was probably the best possible outcome considering how ugly the injury looked at the time. It didn’t demand surgery and has a relatively short timeframe for recovery. Now he’s nearing the end of that timeframe, and hoping to put the injury behind him.
“Pretty good, pretty good,” Thibodeaux said, when asked how he was feeling.
“I’ve been rehabbing. It’s day to day right now. I’ve just been working, trying to get better, to get back in shape, and get it going.”
Giants’ fans are wondering whether Thibodeaux will be able to suit up for the the season opener. Head coach Brian Daboll has been coy in his responses to the question, deflecting and only stating that the Giants’ various injured players are “day to day.”
For his part, Thibodeaux is echoing his coach and refuses to commit to a Week 1 return.
“I don’t know,” he said Tuesday. “Right now, it’s day to day. It could really go either way. We’re just waiting to see where it is when the time comes.”
Thibodeaux clarified that what they’re looking for is the ability to practice with his teammates. He’s been consistent in his statements throughout preseason that he knows what he needs to improve and he wants to improve them. That means that he needs to be able to practice. It’s also true that if the rookie isn’t healthy enough to practice, he probably isn’t healthy enough to play.
“I’ve just got to be able to practice,” Thibodeaux said. “If you don’t practice, you don’t play. Me just being able to get out there, get some work and do everything that I need to do the time I need to get my job done.”
In a twist that seems almost gratuitously cruel, the Giants also lost their other starting EDGE, Azeez Ojulari, to injury. Ojulari suffered a lower leg injury while running sprints following the Giants’ joint practice with the New York Jets in the third week of preseason.
Now both of the Giants’ starting edge defenders are on the trainers’ table as their teammates are getting ready to face a team that was the number one seed in the AFC for the 2022 playoffs.
They’re definitely feeling the pressure to get back on the field to help his teammates.
“I feel like we’re both pressed to get back because we both love the sport, and we want to get back,” Thibodeaux said. “This is the NFL, we have a room full of guys who can get the job done, we have a room full of guys who are actually superstars. Supporting them and then also trying to get back and doing everything we can to get better.”
While Thibodeaux wants to get back on the field, he’s committed to doing whatever he can to help is teammates this weekend. Even if all he can do is be a good teammate on the sideline.
“Now you’ve got to accept however we go. We’re a team and Dabes is the person who harps on next play, next man up. So just giving in any way I can, realizing that if I am not able to play, if I’m there, then I have to be engaged and I have to help my team – contribute to the win.”