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Hakeem Nicks downgraded to OUT, will not play vs. hometown Panthers

Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants celebrates

Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants celebrates after making a 37-yard touchdown catch with time running out in the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers. (Jan. 15, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

The Giants figured they’d be without three key offensive contributors for the game against the Panthers. The fourth one came as a surprise.

After listing WR Hakeem Nicks as questionable early in the day on their injury report, the Giants have downgraded the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week to out. Nicks, who was looking forward to playing his first game in his hometown of Charlotte, did not even make the trip with the team.

The loss of Nicks – along with RB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), T David Diehl (knee) and WR Domenik Hixon (concussion), all of whom were also ruled out – leaves the Giants’ offense without some of its most potent weapons. It also leaves the team with only four wide receivers: Victor Cruz, Ramses Barden, Jerrel Jernigan and rookie Rueben Randle. The Giants will also look to TE Martellus Bennett to be even more of a player in the passing game.

Nicks had not practiced this week, but on Tuesday Tom Coughlin expressed optimism about his ability to play in the upcoming game. Nicks, too, sounded like he expected to go.

“It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to, but at the same time, I’ll have to be smart in this situation,” Nicks said of his homecoming on Tuesday. “It’s still early in the season, but as of right now, everything is looking good and I’m looking forward to playing.”

Nicks caught 10 passes for 199 yards against the Bucs, a gutsy performance that made him the first Giants receiver to be named NFC Offensive Player of the Week since Plaxico Burress in 2005. He limped off the field a few times during that game after having his foot stepped on. It was the same foot that required surgery to repair a fractured bone during the offseason.

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