Amani Toomer, the franchise's career leader in receptions and yards and the co-leader this year in catches, will miss the rest of the season because of an injury to his left knee. An MRI done last night on the knee revealed a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament. After consulting with team physician Dr. Russell Warren in a visit to the Hospital for Special Surgery this morning, Toomer has opted to have surgery on the knee, which will sideline him until 2007.
Toomer did not say exactly when he was injured. In last week's 14-10 victory over the Houston Texans, Toomer felt pain in the knee. He went to the sideline, but returned to the field and finished the game.
"I didn't think anything of it," Toomer said. "It was very disappointing when I got the MRI. This happened before (as a rookie 10 years ago, Toomer underwent surgery after tearing his right ACL). So I kind of knew what it felt like when it happened."
Toomer was given the option of trying to rehab the knee, then testing it on the field. But the risk then would have been potentially more serious injury or injuries to the knee. Although it puts him out for the season, Toomer chose surgery, largely because he wants to play next season and beyond.
"It's unstable at this point," Toomer said. "I just want to fix it. I don't want to get into the specifics of what happened, but I feel like the best thing to do is to get it fixed. Going out there and not being able to perform to the best of my ability is worse than getting it fixed now and taking the time (for it to heal). I'm disappointed I'm not going to be able to play for the Giants now."
This season, Toomer is tied with Tiki Barber for the team lead with 32 catches. He is second on the team in both receiving yards (360) and touchdowns (three). On Sept. 17 in Philadelphia, Toomer had one of the finest games of his 11-year tenure, with a career-high 12 receptions for 137 yards and two scores.
The Giants are 6-2 and have a two-game lead over Dallas and Philadelphia in the NFC East. They host 7-1 Chicago Sunday with conference supremacy on the line. Given that, it's an understatement to say this timing of this injury is very difficult for Toomer.
"It's really disappointing, because I feel I'm on one of the best teams I've been on since I've been on the Giants," Toomer said. "Eli (Manning) is doing well, Plaxico (Burress) is doing well, (Jeremy) Shockey is doing well. It seems like everybody is hitting on all cylinders. For me not to be in the mix – I'm going to see them out there and winning games, but I definitely want to be a part of it. That's the way it is sometimes."
"We all feel badly for Amani," head coach Tom Coughlin said after practice today. "Here is a young man who had dedicated himself to having a good year, and he was playing well. He has done anything we have asked of him. His numbers and big plays speak for themselves, but time and time again, he does the things that maybe people on the outside don't notice as much, but they are the kinds of things that make a difference in the ballgame. When you have somebody who is playing as well as Amani has and is as dedicated to the team as Amani is and you lose him, we are missing an important aspect of our team."
So the Giants will carry on without their most experienced receiver. Toomer joined the Giants as a second-round draft choice in 1996. Among current players, only Michael Strahan has been with the team longer. Toomer has played in 158 regular season games, tying him with Doug Van Horn for 14th on the franchise's career list.
He is first in Giants history with 561 receptions, one more than Barber, and 8,157 yards (2,723 more than runner-up Frank Gifford). Toomer's 22 100-yard games are a franchise record and his 47 touchdown catches tie him with Joe Morrison for second, one behind franchise record-holder Kyle Rote.
Those are impressive numbers. And Toomer intends to add to them in 2007 and beyond.
"I enjoy playing, I enjoy my teammates," Toomer said. "I don't see myself not doing it next year.
"Hopefully next year I'll be able to start up right where I left off. That's where my focus is – getting my knee as healthy as possible so I can keep on playing and performing to the best of my ability."
*Elsewhere on the injury front, two players who are listed as questionable for the Chicago game returned to practice today: cornerback Sam Madison, who missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury, and wide receiver Sinorice Moss, who has played only one game this season because of a quad injury.
Several other players who did not practice are also listed as questionable: wide receiver Plaxico Burress (back spasms) was expected to be on the field, but his back tightened up just prior to the start of practice and he stayed inside for treatment. The group also includes linebackers Carlos Emmons (groin) and Brandon Short (quad), defensive end Justin Tuck (foot) and wide receiver Sinorice Moss (quad).
One Pro defensive end, Michael Strahan (foot) is out, while the other, Osi Umenyiora (hip flexor) is doubtful.
Fullback Jim Finn (knee) did not practice, but is listed as probable.
*The Giants have released tight end Charles Davis from the practice squad and signed defensive end Matthew Rice to the practice squad. Rice, a product of Penn State, was originally signed by the Buffalo Bills and was in training camp with the St. Louis Rams.
Toomer to Miss Rest of Season
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