Being in quarantine for two weeks was very boring.
"I didn’t really do much," Giants guard Will Hernandez said on Wednesday, speaking publicly for the first time since he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 29. "I don’t have any crazy stories for you. I think the craziest story I could give you is I went on a drive."
His first game back was pretty much just as uneventful. After missing two contests, Hernandez was active for last Sunday’s game against the Eagles but he spent it mostly on the sideline. Until, that is, late in the fourth quarter when starting right guard Kevin Zeitler came off the field with a concussion.
"Everybody is just hollering out ‘Hey! We need a guard! We need a guard!’ " Hernandez said. "As soon as I heard the first ‘guard,’ I knew I was going in."
He did, finishing up the game and the win with 12 snaps at left guard. It was his first time coming off the bench in his career, having played every one of the 2,523 offensive snaps the Giants had between the day he was drafted in 2018 and the diagnosis that sidelined him.
"Being reliable is one of the things I’ve always wanted to do and always wanted to excel in," he said of that now defunct streak. "But things happen. Life happens. What are we going to do at this point? Yeah, I was definitely upset. It means a lot to me. But I’m good."
He’s good physically, too. Without providing much detail, he said "went through the standard sickness" from the virus.
"It was weird," he said. "At the end of the day, I just kind of got over it and I feel good as new."
One of his biggest worries, besides his own health, was that he had infected others on the team. That was especially scary when nearly the entire offensive line had to be kept home from a practice because they had been in contact with him. They were all cleared the following day.
"Obviously, that’s one thing you don’t want," he said. "It already sucks enough that you get it as an individual. But to know that you [may have] infected other people, that’s probably the worst feeling about it. That’s something I definitely did not want to happen and I’m glad it didn’t."
Hernandez returned to the team early last week and began practicing with them last Wednesday.
"It’s good to have him back in the building," Joe Judge said. "He’s always a dude that makes everyone smile when he’s around. It’s just good to have him back with us."
It came in handy and timely on the field on Sunday, too.
"What I saw when he went in the game is a guy who was ready," Judge said. "Obviously, two weeks off from a game, it’s a lot to ask anyone to jump right back in the swing of things and go through an entire game. When we needed him, he came through. He played well, he played tough. That’s just kind of Will’s personality. He kind of goes in as the enforcer when we needed him right there."
The Giants did not plan on using Hernandez in the Eagles game, other than in an emergency like the one that occurred, since he had missed so much time. And Judge said it’s still "wait and see" whether he can carry a full playing load into the next game against the Bengals on Nov. 29.
So while he is technically back, no one can be sure how the Giants will use him going forward. Rookie Shane Lemieux has played well in his place, Zeitler may or may not be available depending on how he recovers from his concussion, and the Giants have a new offensive line coach.
Whatever happens, Hernandez said he’ll be ready. Just as he was on Sunday.
"It’s horrible seeing one of your boys come out of the game like that, but yeah, when my number was called, I was ready to go," he said. "It definitely was exciting to get back in there with the guys."
The most excitement he’d experienced in a while.