It's never good when a doctor says he's never seen anything like what you have.
So when the Giants' medical staff was stumped by the pulled muscle in the foot of Owa Odighizuwa, it created a wave of concern for the player and the team.
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It wasn't a broken bone like the infamous fifth metatarsal; that can be fixed with surgery and screws. And it wasn't the dreaded plantar fasciitis; that can be devastating but also can be treated.
Instead, they just told the rookie defensive end that he had a pulled muscle -- "like a calf or a hamstring," he said -- and it would have to heal just like any other strain.
"It's kind of unusual how it happened to me, but it was just something that was really rare," Odighizuwa said this past week. "It was a muscle issue, but it was at the weird part of your muscle where you stabilize and you're moving, and you're doing everything with that. It wasn't even anything, to be honest, the doctors had seen."
So he waited. He messed with his cleats, trying to find the right combination of width, support and orthotics (Odighizuwa has what he calls "very flat feet''). He tried to practice a few times but had to stop. And he watched the first three games of the season from the sideline without a uniform.
That perspective is likely to change Sunday when he becomes the final eligible player from the 2015 Giants draft class to suit up and take the field. He is expected to be active and play defensive end, a position at which the Giants can use all the help they can get with Robert Ayers Jr. (hamstring) already ruled out.
"Those past three weeks, I knew I wasn't going to be able to play," he said. "They were trying to get me back right, get healthy and things like that. It's different this week actually practicing, finishing every rep, and everything like that pain-free. I'm very excited about how I'm progressing and where I'm going."
So are the Giants. Although Tom Coughlin was coy about Odighizuwa's status for Sunday, not committing to having him active on game day, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was less reserved.
"The first thing [he can give the Giants] is a set of fresh legs, because, really, when you watch him out at practice, there's a difference," Spagnuolo said. "He hasn't been out there, he's well-rested."
But there is a flip side to that.
"We're going to have to live with some growing pains," Spagnuolo said. "We can see that already in practice, because he's not up to speed with some of the things we've been doing since he's been out. He's got some juice, I think he's a strong edge player, I think he can play tight ends well. So I hope that helps us in the run defense and certainly when we get to a throwing down, some of those third downs, I'm hopeful, we're all hopeful, that he can bring something to the pass rush."
That's why the Giants drafted him in the third round. And with a team that has only three sacks in three games -- only one of them by a defensive end -- any help he can provide in pressuring the quarterback will be welcome.
"If the coaches put me out there to get after the quarterback, I'm confident that I can get it done," he said. "We want to get after the quarterback, we want to get sacks, we want to get pressures, hits on the quarterback, and so if I'm fortunate enough to be in those situations, then I'm going to do everything I can to make those things happen."
With a young defensive lineman, there is always a risk of his being too aggressive and abandoning responsibilities. That can be especially dangerous against a read-option quarterback such as the Bills' Tyrod Taylor. But Odighizuwa was quick to point out that he might be better suited to play that scheme than some of his veteran teammates are. He played against it on an almost weekly basis for UCLA and is extremely comfortable with the assignments and discipline needed to defend that offense.
Sounds like a great point. Now all he has to do is persuade his coaches of it and get in the game.
"I'm convinced [I'll play] and I'm prepared to be out there," he said. "I'm definitely excited."