Keith Bulluck and Shaun O’Hara made some definite strides toward returning to action, if not this week then in the near future. But Mathias Kiwanuka remained in a holding pattern.
Bulluck, out the last two games with turf toe, participated in individual drills Wednesday and said he was hopeful about getting out there Thursday for a full practice. If the linebacker can do that with no adverse effects, he said the chances were good of him coming back in time to face the Lions, who are coached by his old Tennessee defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz.
“This being Wednesday, I still have three more days to get ready,” Bulluck said. “But if the game was today, I definitely feel I’d be able to play." It’s just a matter of where I fit into the scheme this week. When my number’s called, I’ll always be ready.”
Bulluck didn’t take team drills as the trainers took a cautious route and held him back.
“I did everything that everyone else did before the start of practice, and I hope to get out there tomorrow and actually practice,” Bulluck said. “I could have today, but tomorrow I definitely see myself out there.
“It’s a relief. Not being able to contribute, even on the ‘look’ team to give my teammates a look, be a part of what’s going on, it’s hard to do that when you’re not healthy. The best way to do that is to get healthy, and slowly but surely I’m doing that.”
O’Hara also took a step in his recovery from an Achilles/ankle double-whammy that has kept him sidelined the past three games. O’Hara did individuals, and also took “a couple” of team snaps. But his timetable for a return to gameday action remained cloudier than Bulluck’s, however.
“The object was not to do too much the first day, and then see how it progresses,” O’Hara said. “Overall, I felt better today than I did last week. Nothing I did today was too painful.”
The Giants will wait to see how O’Hara weathers the evening. He had tried to run last week, but had to be shut down, so a repeat of that would not be surprising.
However, the center did believe a cortisone shot last week helped the situation. He indicated the joint has felt better now than it has felt since the condition cropped up in the summer.
“I feel pretty comfortable that I can do everything I need to do within my offensive line box,” said O’Hara, who did not run. As for any realistic chances of playing Sunday, O’Hara said, “I hope so, otherwise what the heck am I doing out here.
“It’s taken longer than I would have liked, so I’m pushing. I feel like what we’ve done has quieted things down, so now we’re just waiting to see how it responds.”
As for Kiwanuka, the defensive end and his bulging neck disc are still waiting for things to subside. He’s had shots in the neck, and said he has undergone various other treatments. With him, though, it’s a question of whether he’ll need surgery, which could well be season-ending.
“Nothing is off the table yet,” Kiwanuka said. “I’m still keeping hope alive.”
He was actually out on the practice field Wednesday doing some agility drills in his jersey and trying to stay in shape if doctors do clear him for practice.
Until then, he’s keeping an optimistic outlook.
“It’s frustrating,” Kiwanuka said. “As an athlete, once your body feels good, you expect to go out there and play. But I’m not a physician. I didn’t go to school for years to make that decision. From a player’s standpoint, yeah, I feel I can go out and play. But I have to trust the doctors.”
At the same time, he knows his season could end with the next set of images, which he said will be taken soon.
It’s a waiting game for all three men. But it appears one of them will have to wait longer than the other two to resolve his situation. For Kiwanuka, that’s the cruelist part of all this. While he has sat, the Giants have put together a defensive resurgence.
He would have loved to be part of that. And he hopes he still can.
“From what I’m hearing, there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Kiwanuka said. “There’s a very strong possibility I’ll be back soon. I’m just hoping they can keep it going until I get back.”
As optimistic as Kiwanuka is, that surge may have to go on for a long time before a return happens.