Welcome to "Michael Eisen's Mailbag." Every few days, Giants.com's exclusive Writer/Editor Michael Eisen will pick some of the best questions and comments we receive via email* and answer them right here! If you'd like to submit a question or comment to Michael, click here.
Michael, What, if anything, can be done in future years to move the annual Jets game out of the third week of preseason? As you know, the third preseason game is the one in which the starters play the longest, about a half or more, and therefore face greater risk of serious injury than in the other preseason games. And when the Giants play the Jets, the risk seems to be even greater than for other NFL teams because the co-tenants of Giants Stadium play with extra ferociousness as they compete for preeminence in the NY area -- the so-called "bragging rights." Consequently, it seems almost every year the Giants or Jets lose a key player for the season in what amounts to a meaningless practice contest. I'm thinking of Jason Sehorn in the past, who not only lost a year but also was never the same after being injured in that third preseason game, and Osi Umenyiora just last year. Of course, serious injury can occur in any football game, preseason or otherwise, and I understand many fans enjoy seeing the starters play each other over an extended period of time. But I don't think the heightened danger is worth the enjoyment. In my opinion there would be far less risk of injury to key players if the Giants and Jets were to schedule their annual preseason game in the first, second or fourth week, when fans would have more time to judge whether the Giants' draft choices and backups can outperform their Jets counterparts. I hate that third preseason game against the Jets and invariably find myself holding my breath while watching. Your thoughts?
Well, you can eliminate the third preseason game altogether, which is what would happen if the NFL expands the regular season to 18 games. Barring that, I frankly think the Giants-Jets game will remain on the third preseason weekend. But I don't know if you can blame the injuries on the fact that the opponents are the Jets. Sehorn was hurt returning the opening kickoff, so he likely would have been playing regardless of the opponent. And that extra ferociousness you speak of is largely between the fans. The players don't care much about bragging rights. Oh, they want to win. But no one is bragging about the result of a preseason game once it ends. Many fans who attend preseason games complain because the starters don't play enough. It's a tough call. But I believe the starters have to get some game action sometime before the regular season. Frankly, I hold my breath in every preseason game.
How serious are the injuries to Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks. Will we still get to see Hakeem debut against Carolina Monday night? What about the rest of the training camp injuries can you give us an update or is it a day to day thing.
Hakeem Nicks returned to practice, so hopefully his hamstring is fully healed. Barring a setback, he will play Monday night. Steve Smith has some swelling in his knee, but it is not considered serious but he will not play on Monday. The same can be said for all of the other injuries the Giants players have suffered in camp. I hope I'm not jinxing anyone here, but no one has a long-term injury (except for Michael Boley, who had hip surgery in June). Most of the players that have been injured missed no more than a few days, then returned to practice (O'Hara, Seubert and Nicks to name three). Hopefully, some of the others – Chris Canty, Mario Manningham and the starting cornerbacks, Corey Webster and Aaron Ross – will also be back in uniform very soon.
Is it possible Ramses Barden could outshine Nicks this season? Judging by the reports, it seems like Nicks has been solid, but not spectacular while Barden has been turning heads.
Of course it's possible. Once the players arrive at training camp, labels like "first round draft choice" don't mean as much. Now, I'm not going to suggest that a first-round choice is treated equally to a rookie free agent. But if Ramses Barden deserves to play ahead of Hakeem Nicks, he will. And thus far, Barden has had the superior camp. Nicks has been sidelined for almost a week with a hamstring injury. If he misses much more time he could fall significantly behind, as Mario Mannigham did last year. And Barden has been turning heads since practices began. He seems to catch everything thrown in his direction and has made some sensational grabs, including one this morning. But there's a long way to go, meaning a) Barden must prove he can do it over the long haul, and b) Nicks has plenty of time to catch and/or pass his fellow rookie.*
I have been a Giants fan since the Y.A. Tittle days (yikes... has it been that long?) Something the Giants have always been good at is recognizing their former players, bringing them back for various events, etc. They have also been very selective about when to retire players numbers, either following their induction to the Hall of Fame, or simply recognizing players who were critical to the team's success over their careers. I was at the stadium the night they recognized both LT and Simms and was thrilled at the way they did that. My question is this…when will they do the right thing and retire number 53? Harry Carson has always been one of my favorite Giants - I still wear his jersey to all the home games - and his long overdue induction into the HOF should have, in my opinion triggered the Giants leaders to make this happen. There is no greater ambassador of this team or this profession than Mr Carson and the fact that other players continue to wear his number is in my opinion, wrong. When will the Giants rectify this situation? It has been a couple years now since he was elected to the Hall of Fame, and like his election, this honor is long overdue. Thank you...
The Mailbag fields this question periodically. The Giants certainly recognize the contributions Harry made to the organization and the NFL. He is one of greatest players in franchise history and his Hall of Fame induction was long overdue. But as a practical matter, you can't retire the jersey number of every deserving player. The Giants have retired 11 numbers. That leaves 89 numbers for what at the start of camp is an 80-man roster. Six of those are single-digit numbers. The NFL mandates that players in specific positions wear certain numbers. Linebackers can wear numbers in the 50s and 90s. But on the Giants six of the seven jersey numbers in the 90s are used by linemen. Two jerseys in the 50s – Ken Strong's No. 50 and Lawrence Taylor's No. 56 – are retired. If you keep retiring numbers, at some point you're going to run out.