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The Early Lead
Posted at 04:42 PM ET, 09/19/2012

Hakeem Nicks ruled out vs. Panthers


Hakeem Nicks had a career day against the Bucs but will miss his return to the Tar Heel State. (Ray Stubblebiner - Reuters)
New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks has been ruled out for Thursday’s game against the Carolina Panthers and did not travel to Charlotte with the team.

Nicks underwent offseason foot surgery but started in Week 1 and through two games is tied with teammate Victor Cruz for the league lead in receiving yards with 237. The Giants announced the news on their Twitter account this afternoon. Nicks did not practice Tuesday and was considered questionable for Thursday’s game, although both Nicks and coach Tom Coughlin said Tuesday they expected him to play.

The fourth-year receiver caught 10 passes for a career-high 199 yards and one touchdown while playing through pain in New York’s come-from-behind win against Tampa Bay on Sunday to earn NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. But the pain was aggravated when Bucs safety Mark Barron accidentally stepped on his injured foot, Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

With Domenik Hixon (concussion) also ruled out, Cruz will be expected to shoulder the load with help from Ramses Barden, Jerrel Jernigan and rookie Rueben Randle. Tight end Martellus Bennett caught a touchdown pass in each of his first two games with New York and will also be a factor in the passing game. The Giants will also be without starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) and offensive tackle David Diehl (knee).

A Charlotte native, Nicks was looking forward to returning to his home town to play the team he cheered as a kid.

“It was always a dream to be able to play there,” Nicks told the Associated Press earlier in the week. “So I circled this on the calendar a long time ago.”

Nicks produced one of his greatest games at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium during the 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl when he caught eight passes for 217 yards and three long touchdowns in North Carolina’s 31-30 loss to West Virginia. That total included the behind-the-back circus catch below and significantly boosted his draft stock.

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By  |  04:42 PM ET, 09/19/2012

 
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