The New York Giants' problems just went from bad to worse.
With the team riding a two-game losing streak that has suddenly put it out of a playoff position, the Giants (6-4) learned Monday that leading receiver Hakeem Nicks is going to be sidelined for at least three weeks after being treated for Compartment Syndrome in his lower right leg.
Nicks was hurt in Sunday's 27-17 loss in Philadelphia. He experienced swelling in the area Monday and was immediately taken to The Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan where doctors were to perform a fasciotomy.
Dr. Victor Khabie, co-chief, Orthopedics and Spine Institute at Northern Westchester Hospital, said a fasciotomy is an emergency procedure to relieve the pressure on nerves and blood vessels.
"If it is not decompresssed, there is no oxygen or blood flow getting to the muscles and the muscles die and you have permanent damage to the leg muscles, which obviously for an NFL receiver would be career ending," Khabie said.
Nicks' absence could be crushing, as he is the team leader in catches (62), receiving yards (800) and touchdowns (nine).
Injuries have decimated the Giants receiving corps in recent weeks. Steve Smith, who set a team record with 107 catches last season, suffered a partial tear in his pectoral muscle in practice on Nov. 11. Three days later, Ramses Barden broke his left ankle in a game against Dallas and was placed on injured reserve. Rookie Victor Cruz went on injured reserve earlier in the season with a hamstring injury.
With Nicks out, Mario Manningham and Derek Hagan are the only veteran receivers on the roster for Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4). Hagan was signed last week after being released in training camp. The only other wideouts on the team are rookie Duke Calhoun and Darius Reynaud, who was the returner until suffering a hamstring injury against Dallas on Oct 25.
Khabie said in fasciotomy, surgeons cut the fascia, the tight covering over muscles, to reduce the swelling.
"You know that boxing movie where Rocky's his eyes are swollen and you got to cut the eye to relieve the pressure," he asked. "It's kind of like that."
Khabie said how soon Nicks returns depends on the amount of muscle damage suffered and how many compartments had to be cut to relieve the pressure. He said surgeons might have to repeat the procedure in a couple of days to clean out any dead muscle, and that might sideline him for the season.
Nicks was the Giants' first-round selection in 2009, out of North Carolina. He had 790 yards receiving and six touchdowns as a rookie.