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Curious case of Giants’ PK Graham Gano raises questions

After saying Gano was “fine” despite a left knee injury, the Giants are on the verge of replacing him and sending him for surgery

New York Jets v New York Giants Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

New York Giants placekicker Graham Gano, dealing with a left knee injury, is headed for the injured reserve list and surgery.

Coach Brian Daboll said today that Gano will be placed on IR. The Giants have signed placekicker Cade York off the Tennessee Titans practice squad and added him to the 53-man roster. Randy Bullock signed to the Giants practice squad on Thursday. Daboll said the Giants will look at both kickers on Friday and then make a decision which one kicks on Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders.

It is a curious end to the season for the 36-year-old Gano, who signed a three-year contract extension with the Giants earlier this season.

Friday’s York-Bullock kicking competition, and the reality that the Giants are committing three weeks of 53-man roster salary to York without guaranteeing him the placekicking job, adds another layer of curiosity. York, 22, was a fourth-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2022. He made 24 of 32 field goals (75%) and was released by Cleveland at the end of the preseason.

“We’ll have both guys out here today (at practice) and do some kicks and see where we’re at for Sunday,”Daboll said. “We’ll see where they’re at here when they kick and snap with (long snapper) Casey (Kreiter) and hold with (punter) Jamie (Gillan) and do all those things. We’ll do a bunch of that today.”

Gano popped up on the injury report a couple of weeks ago due to a left (non-kicking) knee injury. After the always reliable Gano missed two field goals Sunday against the New York Jets, head coach Brian Daboll said “Graham’s alright.” On Monday, asked again about Gano’s health, Daboll said “he’ll be okay.”

On Thursday morning, special teams coach Thomas McGaughey said Gano was “just working some things right now.”

McGaughey added this:

“You know, Graham’s pretty good. And he’s better than most even when he’s at 80-85 percent, 70 percent. So, again, we are just going to work through it. If it’s something that we’ve got to address later, we’ll address it later, but right now he’s just working through it ...

“It has nothing to do with being fine. At this point in time, between kickers, punters, linemen, everybody is banged up a little bit during the course of the year. So, like I said he’s just working through some tweaks. We’ll figure it out.”

Yet, Thursday afternoon the Giants worked out four accomplished veteran kickers, then signed Randy Bullock to their practice squad.

Gano, obviously, is not fine.

It has been clear for a while that something has not been right with Gano. In his first three seasons with the Giants, Gano made 89 of 97 field-goal attempts (91.8%). The two misses on Sunday made him 11 of 17 (64.7%) this season.

Daboll made a much-debated fourth-and-1 from the Jets’ 17-yard line decision to send Gano onto the field for a 35-yard field-goal attempt with :28 left and the Giants leading, 13-10. A first down would have won the game for the Giants as the Jets had no timeouts.

Daboll said Sunday that he “felt comfortable” with allowing Gano to kick in that spot. On Monday, he doubled down by saying he was “secure with what we did there.”

Why did the Giants go forward last week with Gano as their kicker?

“(Gano) had a good Friday (last week),” Daboll said. “Kicked good in pregame and things change, obviously. So, went out and played and had a few meetings with I’d say doctors this week, a couple times during the week and then decided to do the surgery.”

Here are two videos of Gano speaking in the locker room on Friday:

To his credit, Gano made no excuses after Sunday’s loss to the Jets.

“It doesn’t matter. I mean, I just played poorly,” Gano said. “I’m not going to make excuses about anything. I’ve just gotta do a better job. I think everybody expects an excuse. Everybody wants that. Everybody’s thinking there’s gotta be a reason. There’s no reason. I just played really bad.

“At the end of the day, they expect me to make my kicks and so do I. And I just, I’m disappointed. I mean, put this one fully on my shoulders. It was just a terrible game by me and I gotta do a better job.”

It doesn’t seem like Gano is going to get to do that job again until after he gets his knee repaired.