EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — New York Giants offensive lineman Nick Gates’ fairytale return has reached its final chapter, as he was added to the team’s active roster on Wednesday.
Gates broke his left fibula and tibia in Week 2 last season, a horrific injury that saw his leg turned in the wrong direction and put his football career in jeopardy. He would need seven surgeries and suffered a setback in the spring which forced him to remove the rod from his leg. There was a time when the veteran lineman feared even losing the leg.
But Gates had vowed to return and recently told ESPN he “felt great”. The Giants opened their training window three weeks ago, giving them 21 days to activate Gates or allow him to return to the physically unable to play roster for the rest of the season.
Gates’ return comes at the right time. Right tackle Evan Neal and left guard Ben Bredeson were injured Sunday in Jacksonville and are expected to run out of time.
Gates, 26, was the Giants’ starting center for the entire 2020 season. He also played guard, including when he was injured in Washington 13 months ago. Gates took snaps with the first-team attack last week in the center when Jon Feliciano was limited by injury.
Feliciano started and played all of the offensive snaps in Sunday’s 23-17 win over the Jaguars.
The Giants (6-1) wanted to give Gates as much time as possible to regain his strength and get into shape. They haven’t had a padded workout since his window opened due to their schedule, which included a trip to London earlier this month.
Still, the giants liked what they saw.
“Nick has done a great job since he’s been here,” coach Brian Daboll said earlier this week.
Gates gives the Giants depth on the offensive line as they head into Sunday’s game in Seattle ahead of their Week 9 bye.
It’s no surprise that Gates’ story has come to this. One of the first questions he asked each doctor was whether he was going to return to an NFL field.
“And they all assured him that he would,” his mother, Sonya Gates, told ESPN this summer.
Nick Gates smiles as he is transported Sept. 16, 2021, to FedEx Field. He raised his fist, assured his brother in a phone call moments later that he would be fine, and released video of him walking around the hospital with a walker two days after breaking his arm. leg and one after the first series of operations.
Everything is normal for the course.
“The toughest guy on planet earth,” was how his agent, Jon Perzley of Sportsstars, described Gates the week after the injury.