Two knee surgeries in two years have not diminished Domenik Hixon's desire to play for the Giants, nor the team's eagerness to have him in uniform.
The Giants announced today they had re-signed Hixon, who could have become a free agent on March 13. Terms were not disclosed. The wide receiver and return specialist missed all but two games in 2010-11 because he twice underwent surgery to repair a torn right anterior cruciate ligament.
Despite those injuries, the Super Bowl champion Giants believe Hixon can be a productive player. And Hixon wasn't interested in shopping his services around to other franchises.
"It's one of those things, they gave me an opportunity when I got released from Denver (in 2007)," said, Hixon, who thanked the Giants and their fans today via Twitter. "And then these past two years with knee injuries they stuck with me. They could have cut me and let me be on my way and be done with me. But they didn't do that. They treated me the same and I really appreciate that. I know a lot of times in the NFL loyalty isn't that big. But in this situation I really felt like I wanted to be here. They helped me out time and time again. I wanted to stay here and repay that."
Hixon is certain he will be ready for the start of training camp in late July – and he expects to be on the field well before that.
"I was trying to get Dr. (Russell) Warren (the team physician) to cut me loose for spring ball and do OTA's and he definitely sees me doing that," Hixon said. "I'm chomping at the bit."
That's understandable. Hixon first hurt his knee in a minicamp practice in MetLife Stadium on June 15, 2010. He didn't play a down that season.
After an arduous rehab near his home in Ohio, he was back in uniform for training camp last year. In the first two regular season games, Hixon returned three punts and caught four passes, including a spectacular 22-yard touchdown reception on Sept 19 vs. St. Louis. But he landed awkwardly on the play and a subsequent MRI revealed he had torn the same ligament.
"I didn't have any idea I was hurt," Hixon said. "In the days after that, before I went into surgery, I was still walking around fine. I was just not in football condition. It almost felt like déjà vu going into surgery again."
Hixon said playing two games last year was almost harder than not suiting up at all in 2010.
"It was kind of being teased," he said. "Being here and going through training camp with the guys and preseason and playing a couple of games and then getting injured again, it was probably even more devastating, because things got started. What really helped was the guys winning and going to the Super Bowl. It was awesome to see everybody doing well. But by no means was it easier."
When healthy, Hixon is a versatile and valuable contributor. He has played in 46 regular season games with 10 starts. His career totals include 59 receptions for 788 yards and three touchdowns and three rushing attempts for 18 yards. Hixon has returned 48 punts for 530 yards (11.0-yard avg.) and a touchdown and 80 kickoffs for 1,966 yards (24.6-yard avg.) and a touchdown. He also has 25 career special teams tackles.
On Oct. 18, 2009, Hixon totaled 303 yards at New Orleans to shatter Joe Scott's 61-year-old franchise record by 24 yards. Hixon holds two of the five largest single-game yardage totals in Giants history.
Hixon's 290 kickoff return yards in four games set the Giants' career postseason record in 2007.
To post those kinds of numbers again, Hixon had to strengthen his knee. After last year's surgery, he spent two months working in the Timex Performance Center. But instead of returning to Ohio, Hixon headed to the Andrews Institute of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Gulf Breeze, Fla., where he has worked tirelessly to get in top condition for the coming season.
"I had to change it up," Hixon said. "To go home and do it again, it felt like it was going to be longer."
Almost six months after his surgery, Hixon is pleased with his progress.
"I personally feel like I'm further along (than he was at the same stage after his first surgery) with the strength and the coordination, different things like that that," he said. "Is it because I know what's coming and I'm prepared for it? But I feel real good. And that's what's kind of scary about it. It wasn't a point this time where I had a ton of pain or a ton of swelling.
"We're just fine-tuning things now. My goal when I get back is to be at full speed and show the training staff and everybody else I'm physically ready to play and ready for it for years to come.
I don't want to limit myself in what I can do, especially because of injury. It's part of the game and I'll work twice as hard not to get injured."
Although he essentially lost two seasons, Hixon believes he still has a long career ahead of him.
"I'm 27 years old," he said. "This isn't a one-and-done type deal. I plan to play four or five more years, longer than that if I'm able. This is just a little interruption."