When Hakeem Nicks missed last week's game with the Panthers, he said that he didn't have a serious problem with the foot he broke during the offseason.
Nicks claimed that if the game had been played on Sunday, he would have been in the lineup and we would still be referring to Ramses Barden as one of the great busts of the Jerry Reese era as general manager. Based on the news out of Giants camp on Friday, it's a good thing that Nicks decided on a career in professional football because he would not have done well in a medical field.
Nicks is listed as doubtful for Sunday night's showdown with the Eagles because of a knee, not foot, injury that he originally suffered in the victory over the Buccaneers in Week Two. It's not really clear why the Giants just decided to start referring to the problem as a knee injury on Friday, although that's of far less immediate interest than the fact that no one thinks Nicks is going to wind up on the right side of doubtful come kickoff time.
The Giant philosophy is that this isn't a major problem and Barden's play against the Panthers would seem to suggest that there isn't much to worry about. We do worry, though, and the reason why has to do with the caliber of the defense they'll be dealing with this time around.
Carolina's defense never picked up on the fact that the Giants were consistently hitting Barden on the same quick hitting pattern all night long, but you have to expect that someone with the Eagles did notice that while watching the game on tape. There's a pretty fair chance that they will actually defend that pattern instead of being smug about shutting down Victor Cruz while Barden eviscerates them.
There's also the not so insignificant matter of the Eagles pass rush. Eli Manning had eons to throw the ball against Carolina, but he's not likely to be treated with such respect by an Eagles team that's 2-1 because of their improvement on defense this season.
If the Eagles take away the quick hitters to Barden and pressure Manning, two things they should be able to do in tandem, then it's going to be up to Manning to be a little bit more creative in his approach. That can lead to disaster (first half vs. Tampa) and sublime success (second half vs. Tampa), but the latter is a far more likely outcome when you have a receiver of Nicks' ability on the outside.
Beyond this week, there's a point where you have to start wondering whether or not Nicks is going to be healthy at all this season. It's one thing to handle an absence of a week or two, but much different when you go into every week with absolutely no idea whether or not Nicks is going to be able to play.
That's no way to run an offense, although it is starting to look like the only way the Giants are going to be able to run theirs this season.