<
>

Domenik Hixon tears ACL again

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Domenik Hixon has suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee for the second straight year.

The New York Giants wide receiver and punt returner underwent an MRI Tuesday and will require surgery after tearing his ACL on his spectacular 22-yard juggling touchdown catch near the end of the second quarter of Monday night's 28-16 victory over the St. Louis Rams.

"It's devastating," he said of suffering the same injury two years in a row. "It's a long road, a tough road. It still feels like a dream."

"Came back after a year, did everything we could do to get back 100 percent," Hixon added. "Got to start over again, but I'm going to be back."

The Giants hope they will get wide receiver Mario Manningham back in time for Sunday's NFC East clash with the Philadelphia Eagles. Manningham continues to undergo further examination and testing after suffering a concussion against the Rams. He was examined by independent neurologist Dr. Teena Shetty on Tuesday and will continue to follow protocol for players who suffer head injuries before being cleared.

Manningham suffered the concussion in the first half and said his neck "stiffened" up but he was held out of the second half after taking a baseline test.

"He's going to have to have further tests, further evaluation," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He feels better even now but he has to go through a whole bunch of things and every one of them, and rightfully so, has to be signed off on. And that's not the case just yet. We will see what the next day brings. We have no update on that at this point in time."

Also, tight end Travis Beckum, who has not played this season due to hamstring injuries, hopes to practice this week. Coughlin is optimistic that defensive end Osi Umenyiora could also practice this week for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 19.

But Coughlin said that Umenyiora, who did not participate in the team's walk-through on Wednesday, is considered day to day. He did not know if Umenyiora will practice on Thursday.

"One day it looks really great and then the next day it is perhaps not as good," Coughlin said.

Hixon is the latest season-ending injury to rock the Giants. The wide receiver will be the ninth player to go on injured reserve and he's the fifth Giant to suffer a season-ending ACL/knee injury, joining cornerback Terrell Thomas, middle linebacker Jonathan Goff, outside linebacker Clint Sintim and cornerback Brian Witherspoon.

Hixon said he initially thought he injured his right calf on his circus touchdown catch. Hixon even briefly returned to play in the third quarter before sitting out the rest of the game. He said he feels no pain in his knee and even appears to walk without a limp.

"There was no pain at all in my knee, that is why I was thinking it was my calf," Hixon said. "Still now my calf is the only thing that is sore. My knee feels fine."

"It was kind of wishful thinking more than anything," Hixon added.

The wide receiver first tore his right ACL in June 2010 during the Giants' first practice at their new stadium when he made a cut and collapsed untouched on a punt return.

"Domenik worked so hard to get back," Coughlin said. "He's a great guy, a true pro. He studies, works hard, he's great to his teammates. He is very reinforcing for everyone around him, carries himself with class and distinction. For a guy like that to make a great play and then literally be gone for the season, that is a difficult blow."

Hixon is one of the most popular players in the Giants locker room. Victor Cruz and Brandon Stokley will have an opportunity to see more snaps in the slot as the Giants continue to search for a replacement there for Steve Smith, who will play against the Giants this Sunday as an Eagle.

The Giants worked out wide receivers Stokley, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and David Clowney last week before signing Stokley to help in the slot. If the Giants decide to sign another receiver, they could take a look at the wideouts they worked out last week again.

The Giants have wide receivers Devin Thomas, who returns kickoffs, and Jerrel Jernigan as well. Wide receiver Ramses Barden remains on the physically unable to perform list with an ankle injury and is not eligible to return for another four weeks.

"Unfortunate but we are going to need some guys to step up," quarterback Eli Manning said. "We still got Hakeem (Nicks) and Mario Manningham, our two core guys are right there. We still got Victor Cruz who has been here all year long and Stokley, who has been here a week and he will have to do more and learn more of the plays. We still have talented guys and there is no reason why we can't go out there and be successful throwing the ball."

The team also will have to replace Hixon on punts. After Hixon left the game, the Giants used cornerback Aaron Ross on punt returns. During the preseason, Coughlin used rookie Jernigan on punts to keep Hixon out of harm's way. Thomas could also be another potential option.

While the Giants find a way to move on after another injury, Hixon begins yet another long grueling rehab process but does so with a positive outlook.

"Obviously you feel bad for Domenik," Manning said. "He keeps a great attitude and that is what kind of keeps you going. He said this is going to be a great story when I come back from this one and I am able to help you out this year. That keeps you positive and you want to play well for him."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.