This time of year is the time that Giants fullback Henry Hynoski relishes.
The team, of course ,is in training camp, and today after three straight days of shorts and shells, they’ll be sporting “uppers” as a prelude to full pads starting on Thursday, a sign that touch football is about to end and the real stuff – the stuff that fullbacks live for, is about to begin.
But for the Giants’ bruising fullback, he unfortunately won’t be a part of the hit parade. Currently on PUP while he continues his recovery from a broken tibia and a MCL injury that these days has left him in a large bulky brace that hugs his left knee, Hynoski will be a spectator.
“Today’s going to be tough because we’re doing what I love to do, which is hit,” he told a group of reporters. “So today’s going to be the hardest day to watch. I’m sure it’s not going to get any easier as camp goes on, but I have a goal in site and when things like this happen to me, I just use it as extra motivation to come back stronger than I ever have.”
Hynoski was injured on the second play of the team’s first OTA in late May, a freak injury that occurred when he was blocking a linebacker and had his leg rolled up on and bent sideways. A day after his diagnosis was confirmed, he had immediate surgery to repair the injury, with doctors discovering that his ACL was not affected by the impact.
Within a matter of days after that, the former fullback out of Pittsburgh dove head-first into his rehab, eyeing the start of the regular season as a return date, doing everything possible to make sure he could meet that goal.
“With this rehab, it’s a step-by-step process,” he said when asked if he was given a date he’d be cleared to return to the field. “I’m going to try to get back there at the earliest possible date. We’re trying to be aggressive in my rehab and we haven’t had any steps backward. We’re just going forward, so I feel good about things.”
Hynoski said he’s been so focused on his rehab that he hasn’t really paid attention to the team’s brief flirtations with Vonta Leach, who has since re-signed with the Ravens, or the fact that the team brought in former Rutgers standout Ryan D’Imperio, who just yesterday started to split first-team snaps with tight end Bear Pascoe, who is currently the first off the bench at fullback behind Hynoski.
“When something like this happens, you know they’re going to bring in somebody,” Hynoski said. “You can’t concern yourself with worrying about that because the minute you do that, that’s the minute you’re focus goes away from rehab. I was always worried about this summer rehabbing back and doing all I could with that vision going forward to get ready for the season.”
Hynoski, who has been able to stand on the field during practice, has had no swelling or pain from the long periods of inactivity. However, he has yet to start running on solid ground – he has been working on a special machine that allows him to run with partial weight-bearing.
Despite the progress made, Hynoski knows that there is still very much a chance that the team might decide to put him on inactive PUP to start the season, a move, which if made, would mean he’d spend at least the first six weeks of the season unable to practice.
“I can’t concern myself with that right now,” he said of that possibility. “Right now I have one focus and that’s to get back as soon as possible. And that’s to rehab every day and to keep myself in condition so that when I do come back, I’m not going to waste any time to get in shape.
“I’m going to come in shape so I can hit the ground running and be ready to play at the earliest time. So my main focus is getting better and rehabbing as fast and as hard as I can.”
He’s also been busy trying to bring D’Imperio up to speed on the playbook, his instruction apparently being received well given that by his third day in on the team, D’Imperio was splitting first-team practice reps with Pascoe.
“It’s my job as a veteran player to help new guys they bring in,” Hynoski said. “It doesn’t matter what the position. I feel like I’m a leader on this team. I’ve been with these guys for a few years now so that’s what I have to do.”
When Hynoski is eventually cleared to return to the field, he is confident that it won’t be long before he’s ready to pick up where he left off at the end of last season.
“’I’ve been playing football my whole life. I know what I’m doing. I’m in the film room studying all the plays, reviewing everything and it’s something that comes naturally,” he said.
“I don’t think I’m going to have much of an adjustment period to get back out there. I just have to be ready and rehab to get the leg right, because I don’t want to have any setbacks. I want to step on that field when I’m exactly 100%.”