Worst New York Giants Pre-Season Injuries: Terrell Thomas and Others
Well I think the New York Giants can lay claim to this pre-season award: most season-ending injuries to defensive backs!!
Not a title Big Blue Nation would like to own, but with Terrell Thomas AND Brian Witherspoon last night, on top of Bruce Johnson earlier in camp, the Giants win by a landslide.
(Since first round pick Prince Amukamara is expected to come back sometime this season, he's not included!)
Well, this rash of injuries got me thinking ... what have been the worst pre-season injuries in Giants history?
I've got my list.
5. Terrell Thomas (2011)
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Although immediately problematic for the 2011 season, I don't think Terrell Thomas' torn ACL ranks any higher than this.
Arguably, he's been the Giants best defensive back since he's been with Big Blue. He's been very good in coverage and generally been the best tackling defensive back since his rookie year in 2008.
What makes his loss even more difficult for Perry Fewell is the fact two other defensive backs are also done for the season, plus who knows when Prince Amukamara makes it back to the field this year.
4. Zeke Mowatt (1985)
George Rose/Getty Images
That damn Three Rivers turf!
Back in 1984, Bill Parcells' coaching staff were shocked that the next great TE of the '80's was ... their own: Zeke Mowatt!
Signed as an undrafted free agent in 1983 primarily as a devastating blocker out of Florida State, Offensive Coordinator Ron Erhardt soon found out that not only could Mowatt control the point of attack in the running game, he could also get down field and catch.
In '84, Mowatt caught 48 passes at 14.5 yards a clip and six touchdowns. All were surprising numbers for an all-block, no-catch tight end.
Unfortunately, a seam in that ugly, stupid, cookie-cutter stadium astroturf in Pittsburgh stole away any great future Mowatt would have. Mowatt caught a pass and landed his foot in that seam and tore up his knee. He was done for the season.
Fortunately, the Giants had, that spring, drafted another young TE by the name of Mark Bavaro. We all know what happened after that (don't we, 49er fans??).
Thankfully, Mowatt got some redemption by becoming the first Giant to catch a Super Bowl touchdown pass in Pasadena.
3. Osi Umenyiora (2008)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
For much of the 2008 season, Osi Umenyiora's season-ending knee injury didn't seem like it would help derail the Giants bid for a Super Bowl repeat.
But in that pre-season, Big Blue was actually planning on Mathias Kiwanuka to play linebacker and they were already dealing with Michael Strahan's retirement.
So the whole Kiwanuka as LB experiment would be put on hold and the defense would actually play some outstanding games on their way to an 11 and 1 record.
Of course, Plaxico Burress and his wayward trigger finger would do in the Giants much more that season than Osi Umenyiora's injured knee, but the loss of such a talented pass rusher certainly didn't help their cause in December and January.
Btw: This and the other top three injuries have a common thread ... can you figure it out?
2. Jason Sehorn (1998)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
This one is not #1, but it certainly hurt the most, in my humble opinion.
In 1997, Jason Sehorn established himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He was big, strong and fast and locked down just about every number one receiver in the league that year. The Giants defense was as dominant as their Danny Kanell-led offense was not.
Sehorn was the best athlete on either side of the ball and that aspect of his game would be his (and the Giants) undoing.
Sehorn had asked Jim Fassel if he could help in the return game. After initially refusing, Fassel would relent. And on that fateful night, in his first ever kick-off return (on the opening kickoff against the Jets, btw), Sehorn would tear both his ACL and MCL. (The accompanying picture is THAT return.)
He missed the season and would never be the same defensive back again.
Sehorn would make that fantastic, diving, juggling interception return for a touchdown in the 2000 playoff game against the Eagles. But he was also targeted (successfully) by the Ravens for their first half TD in Super Bowl XXXV.
It was his obvious talent and how he was injured that makes this pre-season injury feel so disgusting for Big Blue Nation.
1. Phil Simms (1982)
George Rose/Getty Images
In August of 1982, there was no telling how the rest of the decade was going to turn out for Big Blue, but when Phil Simms was sandwiched by Joe Klecko and Abdul Salaam, things certainly didn't look good for the Giants' future.
Simms was trying to fend off the challenge by Scott Brunner in training camp, but the Sack Exchange had other ideas. Brunner would go on to lead the offense in that dismal, strike-shortened season. The Giants would go 4 and 5 and miss the expanded playoffs that year.
Would Simms have helped win one or two of the close losses they had that season (Giants lost three games by a combined total of six points to the Falcons, Redskins and Cardinals)? Hard to say, but you would have liked their chances with Simms behind center.
I consider this the worst of the pre-season injuries because Simms was the quarterback. The QB position plays so much more into the W's and L's in the NFL, that weight has to carry over when debating the impact of a season-ending injury.
OK ... what was the common thread in the top three injuries? That's right ... The Jets. (Is Rex Ryan smiling somewhere???)