When the Giants signed Darius Reynaud following his release from Minnesota as the replacement for injured kick returner Domenik Hixon, they already had their sights set on former Green Bay returner Will Blackmon. But Blackmon still was recovering from left knee surgery he underwent last year, a condition that prompted the Packers to cut him after reaching an injury settlement.
"I heard they called immediately after I got released," Blackmon said of the Giants. "I wasn't ready to go yet."
It has been about a year since Blackmon underwent a reconstruction of his left ACL. During training camp with the Packers, he suffered what he described as a major setback, losing strength in his left quadriceps muscle.
"My knee was doing most of the running," Blackmon said. "I had some flareups, but ever since I started training, I haven't had any swelling, no pain, not anything. That's why I was able to come out here. If I wasn't feeling good, I wouldn't have come out here to waste anybody's time."
Blackmon credited his recovery to the help he received from trainer Gavin MacMillan at Sport Science Lab in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Steelers safety Troy Palomalu also worked with MacMillan to come back from knee surgery, so, that's where Blackmon headed when he experienced the setback that led to his release by the Packers.
"If it wasn't for him, I definitely wouldn't be here right now," Blackmon said of MacMillan. "I had a huge setback in terms of why I got released. To come back as quickly as I did, I give a lot of props to them over there."
When he was ready to come back, Blackmon had his choice of offers from six teams, but the Giants were at the top of his list because of the opportunity to re-unite with fellow Boston College player Mathias Kiwanuka. The two had dinner last week after Blackmon's workout, but while Blackmon was aware of Kiwanuka's disc problem in his neck, he had no idea the defensive lineman was about to be placed on injured reserve for the season.
"Obviously, you know the story I was excited to come here to play with him," Blackmon said. "Little did I know I was the one replacing him. I don't know if he knew, but I didn't know he and I were going to flip-flop, in a sense. But I think, at the end, he needs to be smart and protect himself. Especially when it comes to the neck and spinal stuff.
"He always praised the Giants since he's been there. We've always communicated. He and I are really close. He came to my wedding last year."
If Blackmon performs the way the Giants expect him to and Kiwanuka returns to health, maybe they'll get the opportunity to play for the same team again next season.