ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas might become a part of NFL history in a way he never sought.
Speaking to the media for the first time since “aggravating” his surgically repaired right anterior cruciate ligament, Thomas said Tuesday he might need anywhere from three to eight weeks before he is ready to get back on the field.
With the season opener against Dallas just under a month away, Thomas could be one of the first players to benefit from the NFL’s new rules on injured reserve, which will allow a team to place one player on that list after the 53-man roster is decided, then bring him back later in the season.
In the past, players put on IR were lost for the season.
General manager Jerry Reese said Thomas might be the Giants’ candidate for the new IR rule, but Thomas first needs to prove he can play again after missing last season with his ACL injury, then aggravating it after three days of training camp.
The Giants’ leading tackler in 2009 and ’10 and their projected starter this season, Thomas was confident about his chances of playing again after getting medical opinions from three orthopedic surgeons. The consensus was to rehab the knee and go from there.
“Like I said, there’s no timeline on it. It’s all based on my knee, how it feels over time,” Thomas said Wednesday after returning to the Giants’ training camp at the University at Albany. “We really haven’t set forth a plan for how we’re going to attack it. But right now, I’m just building up everything around it.”
Thomas hurt his knee when he slipped during practice on July 29 and it swelled the following day. Initially, the fear was his season and possibly his career might be over with a third ACL injury. The Giants’ medical staff initially said he injured his ACL.
However, Dr. Arthur Ting in California examined Thomas and felt the ACL was intact. Dr. James Andrews in Florida concurred.
“The MRI came out negative, but, you know, it just felt a little bit weird,” Thomas said. “We all agreed that Dr. Andrews would pretty much have the last word and I went to see him and he didn’t see a problem with it.”
His flight back to New York was one of the first times he relaxed after the injury.
“Oh, just relief,” Thomas said of his feelings. “It still hasn’t hit me yet. It’s still frustration. I prepared for this day, but God has a plan for me and it’s all about timing, and I have full belief in (trainer) Ronnie Barnes and his staff that they going to take care of me and get me ready for my return.”
Still it was a scary time for the Giants ((No. 3 in the AP Pro32) and Thomas, who first tore his ACL in college at Southern California, then did it again in a preseason game last season.
However, he insisted he remained positive and never gave up hope of playing this season. He also was encouraged when the initial swelling subsided and there wasn’t much pain or loss of strength.
“I don’t plan on having any more setbacks,’ the five-year veteran said. “I think this is just a minor scare more than anything. You just got to give it time, let it heal, just use my time to place my focus in other aspects, start preparing for my other opponents, start game-planning against the NFC East. … little stuff like that.”
For now, Thomas plans to rest his knee and wants to work on strengthening his legs, hamstring and quad. He believes he could go out and practice, but that would not be the smartest thing.
“I think the big picture is the season, finding out Week 1, or maybe Week 1,” Thomas said. “You never know how this thing’s going to heal. But as of right now, we’re just taking everything slow.”
He said this type of injury can take up to two months to heal, depending on how the rehabilitation goes
The Giants are deep at cornerback with Prince Amukamara, last year’s first-round draft pick, Michael Coe and rookie Jayron Hosley fighting for the starting spot opposite Corey Webster with Thomas sidelined.
“Aggravated is the best to put it,” said Thomas, who probably knows more about knees than he ever wanted to. “An ACL is so simple. It’s either working or it’s not. And mine is still working. Something happened which caused it to swell. They thought it might have been a bone bruise or who knows what it could have been. I guess the basic definition is that I aggravated it.”
Sure beats another tear.