The Giants were understandably unhappy when they left the field after their 20-20 tie with the Commanders on Sunday.
One player had a slightly different perspective, though. For rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger, it was just great to have been back on the field after he suffered a scary, bloody eye injury in Week 7 in Jacksonville.
Bellinger was accidentally poked in the left eye by Jaguars defender Tre Herndon at the end of a catch and suffered a fracture of his lower eye socket and damage to his septum.
After surgery, Bellinger missed four games. He returned on Sunday and had five catches for 24 yards. Bellinger played all but two offensive snaps.
“I knew going in I was going to play a lot and I was comfortable with it,” Bellinger said. “I felt good physically. I know I did a good job with the training staff keeping in shape.”
Bellinger wore a visor to protect his eyes.
“The visor for me was kind of like wearing sunglasses,” he said. “It kind of helped block the sun a little bit, but didn't impair the vision too much, which is what I was worried about when I was told that I first had to put on the visor. Especially right after the injury, because I wore one in high school, but I couldn't remember what it was like. I knew it got foggy and I knew sweat got all over it, so definitely getting adjusted to it still with the sweat and fogginess. Really the vision side of it, I honestly feel like helped me more because it's kind of like wearing sunglasses on a sunny day.”
With the added protection, Bellinger said he didn’t think about whether he was going to get another finger in his eye.
“Originally, I thought maybe going in I might be hesitant thinking about the eye and stuff,” he said. “But it wasn't like that at all. I went in and felt confident with it. Didn't really think about it all. Took a couple big hits and didn't feel anything, which is good.”
When Bellinger was away from the team, he couldn’t do basic things for himself, so he had to rely on family members.
“I was able to bring my girlfriend in and my mom in to help me out and just make some meals for me,” he said. “I couldn't drive with one eye, so they helped drive me around and run errands for me.”
One silver lining: Bellinger was able to play so many snaps on Sunday because the injury didn’t completely keep him from working out during his convalescence, although he had to be cautious right after the surgery.
“It was difficult at first,” he said. “There was a lot of stuff that we couldn't do with my eye just because of the pressure of weightlifting, and we weren't sure about the bleeding inside the eye when I first started getting back into the conditioning. We took a slow approach at first.”
Barkley Payton nominee
Saquon Barkley was named the Giants’ nominee for the 2022 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which recognizes charitable contributions and on-field excellence.