David Baas has missed the last three games, but the worst moment of that stretch wasn’t watching from the sideline. It was when he brushed past Eli Manning in the hallway at the Timex Performance Center and the quarterback asked him: “So, how are your headaches?”
Baas was a late scratch from the Packers game, and that was the reason given. Headaches. We’ve later learned that there was more to it than that. That he has a neck injury. That the neck injury created such pressure to cause migraines. That he might be putting his future career on the line by playing with a condition he won’t name, but one on which he has sought the counsel of Mathias Kiwanuka (who missed most of last season with a bulging disc in his neck) and noted that his condition will need to be monitored after the season. Draw your own conclusions and diagnosis from that.
But headaches? Who hasn't worked with a headache? For a guy who just signed with the Giants in late July, that's a hard first impression to overcome.
“It’s tough,” Baas said. “A lot of the guys here, they haven’t been around me a whole lot so they don’t really know what type of guy I am and that I’m not going to sit out with a headache. There’s a lot more (issues) that I’ve been pushing through all season, that are more serious. It takes a lot for me to sit out. I put my heart and soul out there for the team.
“Coming into a new place, sometimes you’re not sure what people think about you because you haven’t been around them for a long time, but I’m pretty sure that most people are getting the sense of what kind of guy I am, how hard I work, and that I do care about this team and I do want to be out there.”
It seems Baas will be back out there this Saturday. He’s expected to start at center, moving Kevin Boothe back over to left guard and bumping Mitch Petrus back to the bench. There are some who think the Giants might be better off with the alignment they had for the last three games, games in which they averaged 100 rushing yards, but the Giants are going to go back to Baas and Boothe.
Baas said it felt good to be back on the practice field this week. “I’m happy to get a sweat back going and get my brain back going again,” he said.
Still, having a neck injury is never fun. And it can be quite dangerous.
“It’s something you never want to mess with,” Baas said. “It’s something that you have to be smart about. I feel like we do a good job of that. I’m getting back to playing football and that’s where I want to be. We’ll continue to monitor it and make the best decisions and even after the season look at it and reevaluate it. But I’m not worried about anything. I’m not doing anything stupid, putting myself out there with any super percentage of risk. They wouldn’t do that.”
Baas said his fellow offensive linemen have been “harassing” him on a daily basis over his missed time. His inclusion on the offensive line was a storyline heading into the season, and in week 16 it appears that it still is.
“It’s not a year I would have expected,” he said. “This will be my 10th game. Boothe has done a good job filling in. (But) it’s not like I forgot. I’ve played a lot of football here and I plan on playing a lot of football here for a long time.”
Although Boothe spoke about the chemistry the line had when he was lined up next to Petrus, he said there is no lack of confidence in Baas.
“To his credit he’s kept himself mentally prepared and during the time that he’s been out he’s almost been another coach for us on the sideline or in the classroom,” Boothe said. “I know that he’s itching to get back out there and I know that he’ll do well … This isn’t his first or second year out there. He knows how it is. I don’t think anyone’s worried about him jumping back into it.”