EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Having suffered the fourth significant injury of his seven-year career, Will Beatty has learned to look past the short-term pain to focus on the long-term gain.
Beatty, the Giants' left tackle, tore his left pectoral muscle while lifting weights last month. He underwent surgery and his projected recovery time was five to six months. Beatty's streak of 46 consecutive starts, second-longest on the team behind Eli Manning's 167, will end when the Giants open their season on Sept. 13 in Dallas.
"When you see other people doing something that not only you love doing but you feel you can contribute and do it yourself, it is kind of hard," Beatty said today after watching the team's minicamp practice. "But this isn't something that took me out of the game. It momentarily sidelined me. And if I do everything I need to do, I can get back in there. I still have the faith in the team saying, 'Okay, we want you to come back and we want you around at the end of the season."
Right now that seems a long way off, because Beatty can do nothing but rehab three times a week. He must limit the use of his left arm - "I have two daughters I like picking up and holding them, but that is gone for now" – and keep it wrapped in a sling when he's on the field, lest a teammate accidentally bump into him.
And he is fine with that.
Photos of Giants left tackle Will Beatty
"You still have got to let biology take its course and have it attach properly before you start moving it," Beatty said. "The doctor said, 'You came in right after it happened, we got the surgery done quick and (there is) a 100 percent recovery if you follow the first four to six weeks and you take care of it and you do what you need to do. You can get back on the field like nothing happened.'
"Now you have a goal. Everybody else is working on their things, but I have to work on this. You are always competing against somebody, and right now it is like it's competing against myself. (I'm) trying to get healthy, trying to return, trying to beat that return date in a healthy manner without injuring myself more doing something that could harm me. It is a lot of stuff going through your head, but it is a blessing that each time I have gotten that, 'You can come back and still be 100 percent.' You hold on to the good things and you move forward with that."
Check out the best photos from Wednesday's minicamp practice
Beatty's calm in the face of an unwanted absence likely comes from painful experience. He's been down this injury road before.
In 2010, his second season, he broke his foot in the season opener and missed the next seven games. The following year, Beatty started the first 10 games before suffering a detached retina that forced him to miss the remainder of the season, including the Giants' Super Bowl XLVI victory.
Major injury No. 3 was the fractured right leg he suffered in the 2013 season finale vs. Washington. He didn't miss any regular-season games, but spent the entire offseason recuperating and rehabbing. Now Beatty is back at it with the chest injury he sustained executing a routine bench press.
"It was a freak accident," Beatty said. "I was lifting heavy, but it wasn't my max. You go through it and you have all the questions running through your mind, 'Why, what happened, could I have done anything different to prevent it?' Then it's like, 'I've got to go through this whole surgery process again.' I just don't really know what happened. I know that I have to go into the recovery looking toward the future rather than the past."
While he works to return to the field, his position has been manned by Ereck Flowers, the Giants' first-round selection in this year's NFL Draft. The Giants chose the former University of Miami standout knowing he could one day be their left tackle. But they didn't think it would be before his first full-squad minicamp.
Beatty has been gracious toward Flowers, but has no intention of relinquishing his job permanently.
"We drafted a great guy and knowing that, the best five are going to play," Beatty said. "(Seeing) what he can do in college, now I am going to see what he can do here. That aggressiveness, that streak - you don't want to get injured to see that, but you want to see him shine. My mental thing is more about me, not about anyone else, so it didn't matter if we did draft someone or not.
"My goal and my mentality is to get back out there and to still prove to myself that I can still do this. Still prove to the team and thanking them for still giving me the opportunity and expecting to be back. You never know how it is going to go. You have to be thankful for every year you get to play in this league and for this organization. That is more of my mindset (and) that is more of my goal, not losing my spot or what is going on for when I get back. Let me be able to contribute to this and let me get healthy so they can use me and I can show them I am building on last season."
Check out photos of the Giants' offensive line