Knee damage leaves New York Giants rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux uncertain for NFL debut Sunday

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants top pick Kayvon Thibodeaux is unlikely to play in his first career game in the NFL on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

Thibodeaux, who has been dealing with a knee injury, is officially listed as doubtful for the season opener. He was extremely limited at practice throughout the week.

The fifth overall pick in this year’s draft sprained the MCL in his right knee in the second preseason game. He was expected to miss three to four weeks, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Sunday is exactly three weeks from when the injury occurred.

Edge rusher Azeez Ojulari (calf) is also doubtful as the Giants try to win a season opener for the first time since 2016. That also happens to be the last time they made the playoffs.

Thibodeaux and Ojulari were seen at practice for the first time since their injuries this week. They did not do any running during the periods of practice open to the media.

“I’d say whatever we’ve asked them to do in the rehab process, they’ve been doing,” coach Brian Daboll said, declining to say if they had opened up to truly test their injuries before the Friday practice. “I don’t think there’s any setbacks with that. Again, we’ll give them a couple of days here to figure that out.”

Thibodeaux said earlier this week he was feeling “better.” The Giants and Thibodeaux both said they kept considering it a day-to-day situation.

It seems highly unlikely the Giants would rush their top pick or Ojulari, a second-round selection last year, onto the field for the season opener. The team has proceeded with extreme caution on injuries this spring and summer.

New York will likely have to turn to veteran Jihad Ward and Oshane Ximines to start Sunday against running back Derrick Henry and the Titans. Edge rusher Quincy Roche is also expected to be activated from the practice squad.

Thibodeaux was hurt Aug. 21 against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second preseason game. He went down after a cut block from Bengals tight end Thaddeus Moss.

Thibodeaux, 21, was the Giants’ first of two selections in the first round of this year’s draft out of the University of Oregon. He is expected to play a significant role in coordinator Wink Martindale’s defense.

The explosive pass-rusher was working with the first-team defense as far back as the beginning of the spring.

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