There is a fear that Nick Gates’ left leg fracture could be a career-ending injury.
“I’d be lying from my perspective if I said no,” coach Joe Judge said Thursday afternoon before practice.
It sounds like the Giants center’s “reconstruction” surgery last Friday morning went “fine,” per Judge. But the coach said “there are some other things that go with it” that require attention.
The team’s medical staff has advised that it’s not uncommon to require multiple surgeries for this severe of an injury.
But with Gates still at Inova Fairfax Hospital (Va.), awaiting the unknown, it’s clear the Giants have a pit in their stomachs about the possible outcomes for their captain.
“I know he’s getting the best medical care possible, so we’re confident he’s gonna be able to come back,” Judge said. “However my fear for any guy who’s [had this kind of injury] is yes, they could be career ending. So from my perspective it’s [let’s] get them back healthy, keep them focused on being a player when they come back, and in the meantime, do everything you can to help them stay involved with the team and also prepare something beyond this.”
Gates, 25, has stayed positive since his gruesome injury in the first quarter of last Thursday night’s loss at Washington. On Sunday, two days after his surgery, he posted a video of himself walking slowly through the hospital hallways with the help of a walker.
“Up and walking already! One step closer to getting back on the field!” he captioned the video.
The undrafted free agent out of Nebraska has played in 34 games with 21 starts in three years with the Giants. He is under contract through the 2022 season and is clearly eyeing an attempt at a triumphant comeback.
Judge said the team has done everything it can to keep Gates’ spirits up, including bringing an XBox down to the hospital to keep Gates entertained.
“We’ve had some people from the organization go down and check with him,” Judge said. “Players and coaches have been in contact with him. We’re trying to do some things to kinda entertain him a little bit, keep his mind going down there.”
Judge also said when Gates gets back to New Jersey, “we’ll keep this guy as involved as we can with the team.”
“I’ve had guys in the past that had traumatic injuries where you can look down the road and know these guys are gonna be somewhere involved in coaching,” Judge said. “Sometimes we get them involved in the weight room, get their feet wet, get them into some projects, get them start thinking like a coach, ease that transition. Hopefully, Nick’s about a decade away from that.”
On the flip side, Judge wouldn’t rule out left guard Shane Lemieux returning this season, though that would seem to be a stretch.
Judge said Lemieux’s Wednesday surgery to repair his left patellar tendon “was a little less invasive than a complete reconstruction, so we’ll see what this turnaround looks like.”
“There’s a chance with this procedure that it may not absolutely be season-ending,” Judge said.
The coach said the Giants didn’t regret letting Lemieux try to play through the injury he had sustained on the second day of training camp.
“No,” he said. “Because everything we had information-wise would have led us to do nothing differently.”
Lemieux’s absence prompted Judge to move Gates from center to left guard in Week 2, and that’s when Gates broke his leg. He was twisted down to the ground by Washington’s Jonathan Allen, and simultaneously, Washington’s Daron Payne rolled up on Gates’ leg.
Now the Giants are crossing their fingers, fearing the worst but hoping for the best.