ESPN reported Wednesday that Thomas would be flying to meet with Dr. James Andrews in Florida next week for a third opinion on his knee. Source's told ESPN's Adam Schefter that the “doctors that have examined Thomas so far do not believe he has a torn ACL and are optimistic he may play again this season.”
But before we start penciling Thomas' name back in the depth chart, there are a few things to remember.
First, the Giants didn't make this announcement. Thomas went to see his own personal doctor, Arthur Ting, in California and it's likely the source wasn't including Giants vice president of medical services Dr. Ronnie Barnes' opinion that Thomas “re-injured his ACL.”
According to Dr. Stephen Hunt, an orthopedic surgeon at Atlantic Sports Health at Morristown Medical Center in N.J., any injury to the ACL involves a tear. The only question concerns the severity of the tear. If the graft from Thomas' previous ACL surgery is largely intact, he might play again this season. If the tear is more severe, Thomas would have a hard time ever playing football again (he's already torn the ACL twice).
So for one doctor to say there's an injury to the surgically repaired ACL — and by insinuation, another tear of some degree — and then for a second doctor to suggest that no such injury exists is strange, to say the least.
And then there's coach Tom Coughlin's statement on Wednesday:
“I'm always going to hope," Coughlin said. "I have enough information, though, to counter some of that hope, but I'll always hold out hope.”
ESPN's report was very optimistic, but the sources that have gone on the record haven't painted the same rosy picture.
And since Thomas signed an incentive-laden four-year deal with the Giants over the summer, he has an incentive to be healthy when the team makes its cuts later on in training camp. The longer Thomas is on the roster, the more of his contract he can retain.
Of course, even if Thomas' ACL is severely injured, the Giants might very well keep him and place him on the IR in hopes that he can return to the field some day. After all, Thomas led the team in tackles and interceptions in 2009 and 2010, so anything he could give the defense would be appreciated.