2012 NFL OTAs: Hakeem Nicks Injury Highlights Hottest Storylines

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystMay 25, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22:  Hakeem Nicks #88 of the New York Giants warms up against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Players across the NFL have hit the practice field as organized team activities—a fancy way of saying voluntary minicamp—were conducted this week.

The OTAs have brought with them no shortage of storylines, including a significant injury that struck the defending Super Bowl champions.

Hakeem Nicks Injury Timetable Shortened?

The injury I referenced above was suffered by New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who will undergo surgery Friday after breaking the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot.

According to the Boston Globe, it was originally believed that the injury would sideline the fourth-year pro for approximately 12 weeks. However, ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted Friday that the timetable for Nicks' return may be much shorter.

One person familiar with WR Hakeem Nicks' fractured foot said it was more like a "4- to 6-week" injury. Opener vs Dallas still in play.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 25, 2012

Granted, a lot more will be known once the wideout's surgery is complete, but Schefter is likely being overly optimistic in this case.

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin recently told the NFL Network that "it's probably going to be close," in regards to Nicks' availability for the season opener. In addition, Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara didn't return to the practice field until nearly 15 weeks after suffering the same injury last year.

Michael Crabtree "Star" of San Francisco OTAs

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree has been considered a relative disappointment to this point in his NFL career after being selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft.

However, Crabtree appeared be turning the corner after a strong second half in 2011, and the former Texas Tech star has carried that momentum into this year's OTAs according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. 

"He's healthy, and I think he's excited about that," [quarterback Alex] Smith said. "I think he's feeling really good. You come out and watch and he's running better than he ever has since I've seen him. Running really well out here, making plays. It's exciting to see. I know a lot of the new faces get a lot of the attention, but he's doing really well here."

Smith's glowing review comes on the heels of a statement made by head coach Jim Harbaugh earlier in the week that Crabtree has "got the best hands I've ever seen on a wide receiver."

The wide receiver corps was a major weak spot for San Francisco last season, but the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham alongside an improved Crabtree could turn that liability into an asset and set the stage for another deep playoff run by the 49ers in 2012.

Three-Way Quarterback Competition in Seattle

The possibility of a quarterback controversy with the New York Jets may have hogged all the headlines, but there are a number of other battles under center going on across the NFL.

The Seattle Seahawks appear to have put their starting quarterback gig completely up for grabs, with John Boyle of The Herald tweeting Thursday that Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn and rookie Russell Wilson have been sharing first-team reps in OTAs.

Granted it's May, but this three-way QB competition is more than Pete Carroll hyperbole. All three splitting reps evenly in this week's OTAs

— John Boyle (@johnpboyle) May 24, 2012

Once training camp gets underway in earnest, one of these players (likely the rookie Wilson) will likely fall by the wayside. The team simply cannot afford to continue splitting first-team snaps three ways, especially when two of the three signal-callers are new to the team.

That said, it appears that many people may have been premature in anointing Flynn the Seahawks starter after he inked a three-year, $26 million contract to join the team in March.

Flynn may well end up overtaking Jackson, who was the team's quarterback in 2011, but it appears that it's a job that Flynn is going to have earn on the field as we move into training camp and the preseason.