Domenik Hixon was right there. He was the one who was driving Terrell Thomas backwards with his route, the one who cut to the outside, the one who was closest when Thomas slipped during the one-on-one drill on Sunday.
“We were watching on film,” Hixon said today. “It seemed like he just kind of slipped and went to the ground.”
Hixon, too, was there last year. Where Thomas may be right now. Facing a second torn ACL and another steep climb back to the NFL.
It was last September that Hixon was emerging as an inspiring storyline for the Giants, catching a touchdown pass in Week 2 against the Rams, when he re-tore his ACL which had been replaced in the spring of 2010.
Thomas, whose diagnosis is incomplete and may require an arthroscopic procedure to determine the severity of the injury, is the latest in a string of Giants players who have re-injured their surgically-repaired knees. Besides Hixon there is Brian Witherspoon, Clint Sintim and former Giant Jonathan Goff. Given that alarming trend, Hixon admitted he’s a bit nervous about his own return this season.
“I’d lie to you if I said it didn’t (worry me),” he said. “Just because he was working hard at coming back. A lot of things he was doing I was doing, we were working out together, I saw how hard he worked so it was kind of tough seeing him go down, seeing how hard he worked.”
Hixon, though, has his own comeback to focus on. He’s fighting for the Giants’ No. 3 receiver job. He doesn’t have time to fret over what could happen to his knee, the possibility of a third and potentially career-ending tear looming.
“Me and (Amani) Toomer talked about it last year, it’s just so mentally tough, you know what I’m saying?” Hixon said. “Your teammate, your friend, I just had another friend in Jacksonville, a college teammate who just tore his ACL [Reggie Corner]. You try to put it out of your mind. You have a job to do and you’re supposed to do it at a high level so you can’t let nothing effect you.”
All of these repeat customers in the O.R. have more than a few Giants asking the big question: Why? Even Tom Coughlin blurted out that query during his press conference.
“I would like to know what the medical answer is,” Coughlin said. “Is there a story with a repeated ACL? Where the ACL, where the ligament comes from, in terms of projections going forward? We’ve had a couple of these.”
Hixon said he suspects part of the problem may be players rushing back to the field.
“What is too soon, what’s too late?” he asked. “In a perfect world you’d probably want two years recovering and be able to come back, but there’s no time for that. A lot of us, we did it at the beginning of the season or training camp, you kind of have a year and you’re expected to come back and play. It would be awesome to have a year and a half, two years to really rehab, make sure the ligament’s healed, but in our job you don’t have that luxury.”
So instead Hixon marches on. Until he can’t any longer.
“People say ‘stay healthy,’” he said. “What does that mean? You work out every day, try to do the right thing recovering. The leg workouts you do while you’re recovering are just outrageous. When me and (Thomas) were working out together, the things we were doing, you’re coming back, to me, stronger, and something like that happens, that’s tough. My heart goes out to him.”
If Thomas does need another knee reconstruction, Hixon, who had two done within 16 months of each other, said the challenge for him will be more mental than physical.
“It seemed like déjà vu,” Hixon said. “It just happens all over again. That’s why I had to change up where I went to physical therapy because I felt like the same year, the same stuff, doing it over again, the sameness. Mentally getting past it is tougher than physically, definitely.”