In a stroke of bad luck on Friday, the New York Giants disclosed that star tight end Darren Waller is dealing with a hamstring injury. This has put his availability for the highly-anticipated Week 1 showdown against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night into question.
Unscathed Until Now: Waller’s Injury-Free Run Ends
Remarkably, Waller had made it through both training camp and the preseason unscathed—an aspect the Giants had been meticulously monitoring. So, it’s somewhat ironic that he would encounter a health setback just two days before the inaugural game of the regular season.
A Sudden Addition to the Injury Report
Although Waller was conspicuously absent from Thursday’s injury report, signs point to him possibly sustaining the injury during the tail end of Friday’s walk-through practice. Officially, he has been tagged as a “limited” participant but carries the “questionable” designation for the opening game.
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Waller’s Impact: A High-Risk, High-Reward Scenario
Waller, who is two years removed from an impressive 1,196 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, has aggregated just over 1,000 yards with five touchdowns in the last two seasons. Last year, he managed only 28 receptions with the Las Vegas Raiders before an injury sidelined him.
Clearly, if the Giants can keep him healthy, Waller has the potential to be a game-changer on offense. However, his propensity for injury does make him a risky bet, and it’s a gamble the Giants willingly took.
Plan B: Who Steps Up if Waller Steps Down?
Should Waller be ruled out, the Giants have contingency plans in place. Second-year tight end Daniel Bellinger could fill the void, and there’s a host of slot options to absorb Waller’s target share. Veteran Sterling Shepard could also rise to the occasion, and newly signed free agent Parris Campbell would likely see an uptick in opportunities as well.
A Potential Blow to the Giants’ Offensive Strategy
The Giants’ passing game is set to heavily revolve around Waller and the defensive attention he garners. Consequently, his absence would be a significant setback, particularly against a Dallas team that has garnered much optimism following a strong off-season.