Kyvon Thibodeau avoided the worst-case scenario, but he might not be ready for Week 1.
The Giants’ No. 5 overall pick sprained the MCL in his right knee Sunday night, Cincinnati Bengals tight end Thaddeus Moss said head coach Brian Daboll reported Monday afternoon.
Daboll wouldn’t put a timeline on Thibodeau’s recovery, but an ESPN report said the pass rusher is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. And the Giants’ Sept. 11 season opener at Tennessee was less than three weeks away Monday when an MRI revealed the damage.
The report says the Giants still hope Thibodeau can play in Nashville. But based on the schedule, it’s entirely possible — if not likely — that Thibodeau won’t be ready.
“I would say it’s everyday, really,” Dabol said during a Zoom call. “I don’t predict when a player may or may not return. I know he’s going to come in and get treatment, we’re going to take it day by day and when he’s ready to go out there, then we’ll put him out there.
“Fingers crossed,” the Giants head coach added, “hopefully his rehab goes well and he can get out there as soon as [possible].”
Thibodeau, 21, the Giants’ top draft pick out of Oregon, wanted to play more Sunday night than the 14 snaps he took in New England’s preseason opener. He lost in the 17th game against the Bengals.
In a rebuilding year for the Giants franchise, nothing is more important than the selection, development and growth of young cornerback picks and draft signings.
So, in a way, it was a big relief that an MRI on Monday revealed that Thibodeau’s right ACL and meniscus were intact.
But on the other hand, losing him for any length of time is disappointing. And the Giants have to hope that injury doesn’t cause more problems when Thibodeau returns this fall.
“Anytime you miss practice, it’s valuable to be at practice,” Dabol said. “You try to simulate it as best you can to get live reps, but as many reps as any of our guys can get, whether it’s a rookie or a veteran, I think that helps them.
“So KT has done everything we’ve asked him to do since he’s been here,” the coach added. “He was a good teammate. He worked very hard. You never want to waste time, but he has the right attitude, the right approach.”
Injuries, unfortunately, became an unpleasant topic of the first training camp of Daboll.
The Giants received worse news for rookie inside linebacker Darian Beavers: The Cincinnati native tore the ACL in his left knee. His season is over.
That means six of the team’s 11 picks in the draft are now injured: Thibodeau, third-round OL Josh Ezeoudou (undisclosed), third-round corner Cor’Dale Fleet (groin), fourth-round safety Dane Belton (fractured collarbone), fifth-round tackle Marcus McKetton (torn ACL) and Beavers.
Additionally, fifth-round defensive tackle DJ Davidson also limped late in Sunday’s game, though there was no news on him Monday.
The Giants are averaging one torn ACL per MetLife Stadium turf appearance — McKetten during practice on Aug. 5 and the Beavers in Sunday’s game against Cincinnati.
“It’s tough,” Daboll said of losing young players. “McKethan had one and now Beavers has one. It’s tough for young players, especially guys who have developed and done a good job in camp with a bright future.”
Dabol was asked why he thought the Giants had so many injuries and if it was difficult to deal with.
“I think injuries are part of the game,” he said. “You never want guys to get injured, but that’s the nature of a contact, physical sport at the highest level. Some things happen that are out of your control… You try to build as deep a roster as possible to be next, but you never want guys on your team or on another team for that matter.
“You have compassion for it and you try your best to eliminate as many injuries as possible,” he continued. “But it’s a physical sport with a lot of contact and people moving at high speeds, and unfortunately you’re going to have some of those.”
However, it is much more than a contact sport. The Giants are exhausted after a light workload in the spring and early summer.
The following 27 players were inactive on Sunday due to injury or were injured in the game:
Offense (16): C John Feliciano, LG Shane Lemieux (foot), OL Ben Bredeson (right arm), OL Jameel Douglas (ankle), OL Garrett McGinn, OL Nick Gates (foot), OL Matt Peart (ACL) , Ezeudou , McKetton, WR Sterling Shepard (Achilles), WR Cadarius Toney, WR Darius Slayton, RB Matt Brady, RB Gary Brightwell, TE Ricky Sills- Jones, T. Andrew Miller (fractured right forearm)
Defense (nine): DL Leonard Williams, Edge Ellerson Smith (right boot), Edge Jihad Ward, CB Radarius Williams, Fleet, Belton, Thibodeau, Beavers, Davidson
Special teams (two): K Graham Gano (concussion), CJ Board (ribs)
Daboll acknowledged that general manager Joe Schoen could bring in a kicker for the Giants’ upcoming preseason finale against the Jets because of Gano’s injury. A source said the board is “painful,” so hopefully he’s prevented a major problem.
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As for Thibodeau’s injury, the Giants said Moss’ low block was legitimate and in the tackle box. Many asked if Thibodeau could have done anything to protect himself.
“Those are hard blocks, blocks that go across the line of scrimmage inside the tackle box,” Daboll said. “You have to see it and then you have to do a great job of trying to play with your hands. Too bad KT went downhill. But that’s part of the game.”
It’s a part of the game that has bitten the Giants all too often as they hope to field a winning product starting Sept. 11 in Nashville.
It’s already been clear that wide receivers Collin Johnson and David Sills have split themselves this training camp, but Duboll did so Monday when discussing how he’ll decide which wideouts make the final 53-man roster.
“The guys that have been there and are producing — guys like Collin Johnson and David Sills — they’ve stepped up and are fit not only to make the team, but to play,” Daboll said.
The coach interestingly said that it could be “the best five, the best six or the best seven players [at receiver]no matter how much we save.’
The Giants have until 4:00 p.m. Tuesday to cut their roster from 85 to 80. They will then cut to 53 a week later on August 30.